Cher visits Pakistan to help free ‘world’s loneliest elephant’

Cher has campaigned for Kaavan’s release for years

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Cher is visiting Pakistan to help move the “world’s loneliest elephant” to a new sanctuary after years of neglect.

On Friday (27 November), the “Believe” singer will celebrate the departure of Kaavan the elephant from the Pakistani zoo he has lived in for 35 years.

For years, animal rights activists have lobbied for Kaavan to be released, with the elephant having been diagnosed as both overweight and malnourished earlier this year. His partner died in 2012, leading campaigners to dub him the “world’s loneliest elephant”.

Cher, who is the co-founder of organisation Free the Wild, has been a vocal advocate for his resettlement and this week secretly travelled to Pakistan to wave Kaavan off as he is moved to a sanctuary in Cambodia.

“Thanks to Cher, but also local Pakistani activists, Kaavan's fate made headlines around the world, and this contributed to the facilitation of his transfer,” Four Paws International activist Martin Bauer told the Associated Press.

Kaavan, Pakistan’s only Asian elephant, attends his farewell ceremony last week

A documentary about the 74-year-old singer’s trip to Pakistan is in the works, with Cher saying that she was “so proud” to be involved in his release.

In September, a medical examination found that living in an improper enclosure had led Kaavan's nails to be cracked and overgrown. He also developed behavioural issues such as shaking his head back and forth for hours, believed to be a symptom of boredom.

In May, officials ordered the closure of Marghazar Zoo where Kaavan lived for much of his life, on grounds of systematic negligence.

Additional reporting by Associated Press.

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