“This is one of the greatest moments of my life,” read the first line of a tweet by a joyful Cher. This was shortly after she heard that Islamabad High Court ordered the release of Kaavan. “I wish to thank the Pakistani Government,” read another tweet from the celebrated singer.
According to many animal rights campaigners, Cher included, Kaavan was a really lonely elephant. His story is one of many emerging from the country’s zoos.
Islamabad Zoo has been in the headlines from as early as 2002 over the treatment of the elephant. Reports that the elephant had been living in poor conditions and was chained up caused a huge global uproar. The outrage led to the collection of more than 200,000 signatures on a petition against the zoo.
The now 33-year-old Kaavan is originally from Sri Lanka. He had spent more than 26 years chained up in a Pakistani zoo. Since Sahelo, his mate, died in 2012, his behaviors drastically changed. He could be seen doing weird things like banging his head against the wall. Animal activists informed the public that the behavior was akin to clinical depression.
Over the years, countless advocates have come up to lobby for his release. In 2016, the celebrated pop star Cher joined the fight for Kaavan’s freedom. She and her partner, Mark Cowne, worked tirelessly for this gentle giant.
Cowne is reported to have gone to Pakistan and even met Islamabad zoo administration in a bid to find an amicable solution. Cher amplified Kaavan’s plight, and the battle ended up in court.
The big win
On 21st May 2020, Islamabad High court directed that Kaavan be released to a sanctuary within 30 days, and all other animals in the ill-equipped Murghazar zoo be moved to sanctuaries in 60 days.
THIS IS ONE OF THE GREATEST MOMENTS OF MY LIFE.
CANT STOP😭,🥰,BEING SICK 2 MY STOMACH.(Ate🎂in The night & Was SOOOO Sick,Still am.Can you O.D from too much🎂)⁉️
BUT🐘KAAVAN IS FREE🙏🏻
😭DOWN MY CHEEKS,BUT HES FREE,& @markcowne 🕊DID IT🙌🏻.GINA,👑JEN👑👏🏻
— Cher (@cher) May 21, 2020
It has been a sweet victory long sought for Kaavan. We congratulate everyone who tirelessly worked to make sure that all the animals in the zoo, and not just Kaavan, had better-living conditions.
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