After a life of captivity, the 36-year old elephant Kaavan will finally be free. A Pakistani court ordered freedom for the extremely lonely and neglected elephant. He has been living under horrible conditions and in isolation at the Islamabad Zoo.
American music icon Cher, co-founder of the animal welfare organization Free the Wild, was overcome with joy when she heard the news. “We have just heard from Pakistan High Court Kaavan is free,” the singer and animal rights campaigner tweeted Thursday in capital letters. “This is one of the greatest moments of my life,” she said.
The Islamabad High Court ordered wildlife officials to consult with Sri Lanka, where the Asian elephant came from, to find him a suitable sanctuary within 30 days. Kaavan will probably go to the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary.
“The pain and suffering of Kaavan must come to an end by relocating him to an appropriate elephant sanctuary, in or outside the country,” the court ordered, criticizing the zoo for failing to meet the animal’s needs for the past three decades.
The court has also ordered dozens of other animals, including brown bears, lions and birds, to be relocated temporarily while the zoo improves its standards.
WE HAVE JUST HEARD FROM— Cher (@cher) May 21, 2020
PAKISTAN HIGH COURT
KAAVAN IS FREE😭😭😭😭
Outrage over the treatment of Kaavan at the capital’s Islamabad Zoo went global several years ago with a petition gaining over 200,000 signatures after news came he was being chained up.
Kaavan had been bobbing his head repeatedly for the past years, which is a sign of extreme stress. Activists said he had insufficient shelter from Islamabad’s searing summer temperatures, which can rise to above 40 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit).
Asian elephants can roam thousands of kilometers, according to the World Wildlife Fund. In contrast, Kaavan’s 90 by 140 meter (100 by 150 yard) space had almost no plants, and only limited shade was provided.
In 1985, Kaavan was brought from Sri Lanka to the zoo in Pakistan. He was only one year old and forced to live in a small place. Five years later, another elephant arrived, Saheli. She died in need of medical care in 2012.