Kaavan, known as the "world’s loneliest elephant," was recently transported from Islamabad, Pakistan to his new home in Cambodia

By Eric Todisco
November 30, 2020 02:16 PM
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Credit: FOUR PAWS/Hristo Vladev; Inset: Mike Marsland/WireImage

Cher helped the "world's loneliest elephant" find his forever home.

The singer, 74, greeted 36-year-old Kaavan, known as the "world’s loneliest elephant," at a sanctuary in Cambodia after fighting to have the animal transferred there from a Pakistani zoo, where the elephant had spent years languishing alone after the death of his partner in 2012.

The rescue of Kaavan was led by FOUR PAWS, a global animal welfare organization for animals under direct human influence, in cooperation with the Pakistani authorities, American businessman Eric S. Margolis and the nonprofit Free The Wild, co-funded by Cher.

To prepare Kaavan for his departure, the FOUR PAWS team, consisting of veterinarians and elephant experts, spent about three months in Pakistan's capital Islamabad, where Kaavan had been living at the Marghazar Zoo. Three times a day, the team practiced with Kaavan the safe and stress-free entry and exit into and from the transport crate that he would be air-shipped to Cambodia in.

"Kaavan quickly gained confidence in us and made great progress in a short time. In his case it not only took a village but a whole country to transfer Kaavan to Cambodia. Without the support of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board, the Pakistani authorities and the local community, American businessman Eric S. Margolis as well as our partners from Free The Wild, this relocation would have not been possible," said Dr Amir Khalil, FOUR PAWS veterinarian and head of the complex rescue mission.

Credit: FOUR PAWS/Hristo Vladev
Credit: FOUR PAWS/Hristo Vladev

FOUR PAWS, accompanied by a military escort, took Kaavan to the Islamabad International Airport, where an Ilyushin Il-76, a Russian aircraft, transported the elephant and the rescue team on a 10-hour journey to Cambodia. The flight from Pakistan was funded in-part by Margolis.

Kaavan arrived at the Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary in Siem Reap on Monday, where Cher was there to greet him.

Credit: FOUR PAWS

Cher said on Twitter that Kaavan’s "journey to freedom from captivity" will be featured in a documentary on the Smithsonian Channel, set to premiere in 2021.

Credit: FOUR PAWS

The "Believe" singer also defended herself against Twitter users who criticized her for traveling amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I thought long & Hard about going out into Covid, But Kaavan’s Freedom was a Promise I Made On My Site I Say 'Stand & Be Counted, Or Sit & Be Nothing' WE ALL STOOD & WE WERE COUNTED & KAAVAN WILL BE FREE," she wrote.

FOUR PAWS, together with the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board, has already safely relocated three wolves, some monkeys, and all the rabbits that had lived at the Marghazar Zoo, which is about to close its gates for good. Only two Himalayan brown bears, one deer, and one monkey remain in the zoo.