Farewell party for Pakistan’s lonely elephant Kaavan

Elephant Kaavan during a farewell ceremony at Islamabad Zoo, Pakistan, photo: Reuters/Saiyna Bashir
Elephant Kaavan during a farewell ceremony at Islamabad Zoo, Pakistan, photo: Reuters/Saiyna Bashir

The lonely elephant Kaavan will leave Islamabad Zoo in Pakistan soon. He’ll go to a sanctuary in Cambodia. On Monday, the people who made it possible got together at the zoo for a farewell party.

After years of campaigning by animal rights advocates and pop star Cher to rescue him from bad conditions with no companion, Kaavan is finally ready for a better life with other elephants and more space.

Veterinarian Amir Khalil and his team from the animal welfare organization Four Paws have been working the past weeks to get Kaavan ready for his flight to Cambodia.

Moving an animal that weighs 4.8 tonnes is not an easy task. A transport crate had to be built for Kaavan. And he had to get used to it before flying.

“We decided to organize an event to give the opportunity to the people of Pakistan and the government to say goodbye to Kaavan, before his new life in Cambodia. So we want to wish him a happy retirement,” Four Paws spokeswoman Marion Lombard said.

Children posed for photos, and musicians performed in front of the enclosure, with Kaavan at one point serenaded while he snacked on some grass.

Kaavan will be airlifted to Cambodia with international specialists armed with treats such as bananas to get him used to the small enclosure and loud noises of the 10-hour flight.

Cher was due to arrive in Islamabad later in the week to finally meet the elephant she had worked for years to rescue and see him off.

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