Cher traveled all the way to Pakistan to make sure that one lonely elephant made it to his new home with better living conditions. After a years-long battle waged by animal rights groups and activists, Kaavan, dubbed the "world's loneliest elephant," will depart a Pakistani zoo for a better life in a sanctuary in Cambodia.
The 74-year-old singer met with Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday and was expected to see Kaavan later in her trip. Khan's office released a video which shows Cher sitting outside with the prime minister and shots of the elephant who sadly lost his long-term partner, a female elephant who died in 2012.
Kaavan has lived at the zoo for 35 years and reportedly suffered physical and emotional turmoil since the loss of his partner. Vets diagnosed him as being both overweight and malnourished. Behavioral problems included shaking his head from side to side for hours on end, which experts attributed to boredom.
Cher lent her star power to the cause of relocating the elephant to a better home while the organization Four Paws led the charge to carry out the animal rescue mission.
"Just Came From Meeting To Thank Prime Minister Imran Kahn For Making It Possible For Me To Take Kaavan To Cambodia," Cher tweeted on Friday. "Kaavan Will Be Able To Leave For Cambodia On The 29. Think Documentary Will Be Heartwarming," she said, referencing a new project she has in the works.
Four Paws has been updating its followers on Kaavan's journey to a new home as well.
"Good news for Kaavan!" the organization posted on Instagram back in October. "Together, with U.S. superstar @Cher, we are planning to relocate elephant Kaavan in the coming weeks! The Islamabad High Court has assigned our vet, Dr Amir Khalil, with the logistical organization and carrying out of Kaavan’s relocation from Pakistan to a sanctuary in Cambodia."
"In early September, FOUR PAWS gave the green light for the elephant’s transfer after medically examining him," the statement continued. "The transfer is supported by the Free The Wild—and it's co-founder, Cher, has been fighting for the elephant’s rescue since 2016. Kaavan will be Pakistan's last Asian elephant to leave the country and will mark to closure of this infamous zoo in Islamabad! Kaavan's rescue will be one of the most difficult missions FOUR PAWS has ever done—but we are optimistic and ready for this challenge."
According to Four Paws' website, the zoo was shut down and they will be involved in relocating 30 other animals to safer conditions.
Martin Bauer, spokesman for Four Paws International said that Cher's involvement was instrumental in rescuing Kaavan. "Celebrities lending their voices to good causes are always welcomed, as they help starting public discourse and raising pressure on responsible authorities,” he said.
In November, Four Paws posted a picture of Kaavan checking out his new training crate, which would bring him to his new home.
"Kaavan was curious and inquisitive seeing his new training crate for the first time," Four Paws posted along with pics of the beautiful animal next to his colorful crate. "He must know that it means a new life of peace and companionship is on the horizon! Over the next couple of weeks, Kaavan will be trained with the crate to prepare for the flight to his new and forever home – a sanctuary in Cambodia."
On Thursday, the organization gave followers of Kaavan an update, showing new pics of him working with vetenarian Dr. Amir Khalil.
"With his team, Dr. Amir Khalil is spending several hours per day to work with the elephant and making sure he feels comfortable and safe in the crate," they shared. "In the past weeks, Kaavan has made good progress. We are all very proud of him!"
Dr. Khalil said that Kaavan had been eating mostly sugar cane -- he helped the animal lose weight by giving him a diet of mostly fruits and vegetables. He also noted Kaavan suffered from overgrown, cracked nails after being inside an improper enclosure for so long. Dr. Khalil is hopeful that Kaavan will thrive in his new home and even said there are three female elephants waiting for him, joking that he might find a new girlfriend.
The "world's loneliest elephant" no more!