Elephant Kaavan is living his best life in Cambodia

Elephant walks towards camera with green around him
Elephant Kaavan in his enclosure at Wildlife Sanctuary Cambodia, photo: Four Paws

The lonely elephant Kaavan is not so lonely anymore. The 37-year-old male Asian elephant is now living an elephant-worthy life at Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS), animal welfare organization Four Paws said in a statement.

A year ago, Kaavan was rescued from a sad and lonely life at Islamabad zoo in Pakistan. Then 36-year-old Kaavan was the only Asian elephant in Pakistan. Islamabad zoo had been his home for 35 years, the last eight years completely alone.

His rescue made international headlines as Four Paws, with help from authorities, pop icon Cher and businessman Eric Margolis, transported the elephant by plane from Pakistan to Cambodia.

“35 years in captivity causes a lot of trauma, but Kaavan is making great progress, roaming around his spacious jungle enclosure and enjoying baths in his pond,” veterinarian Amir Khalil, who led Kaavan’s rescue mission, said.

Khalil added that Kaavan was showing severe behavioural problems at the zoo in Pakistan. The elephant was shaking his head and pacing back and forth in his depressing enclosure.

In Cambodia, Kaavan has “rediscovered his natural instincts and can enjoy having other elephants around. Kaavan is living the life he deserves.”

Kaavan isn’t living with other elephants yet, but neighbouring enclosures allow the elephants to get used to each other’s smell and touch each other’s trunks.

Elephant Kaavan and another elephant touch with their trunks, Cambodia, photo: Four Paws

In September 2021, the Islamabad High Court announced a ban on importing new elephants since the country does not have places with appropriate living conditions for elephants.

Kaavan, as a gift from Sri Lanka, was forced to live in captivity in Pakistan when he was one year old. Five years later, he was joined by the female elephant Saheli, but after she died in 2012, Kaavan lived alone at the zoo in Pakistan.

“Kaavan’s rescue was an extraordinary experience. We transferred an elephant from Pakistan to Cambodia during a global pandemic, together with Cher. I’m proud we are part of this truly unique story,” Khalil said about the extraordinary rescue.

The Animal Reader is a small, independent news platform with daily posts about issues affecting animals.

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