World’s loneliest elephant Kaavan has started his trip to Cambodia Sanctuary

Yvonne O'Halloran

Kaavan who was named the world’s loneliest elephant has begun his trip to a sanctuary in Cambodia after 35 years living in dire conditions in a Pakistani Zoo. The conditions were so bad at the zoo that a court ordered that the zoo be closed in August.

Well known actor Cher’s animal welfare group Free the Wild has worked with Four Paws and the American syndicated columnist and philanthropist, Eric Margolis, to relocate Kaavan which has cost about $400,000. She’s also making a documentary film about the process.

Pakistani wildlife workers and experts from the international animal welfare organization Four Paws, arrange an elephant named Kaavan into a crate before he is transported to a sanctuary in Cambodia, at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020.  (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

Kaavan was diagnosed earlier this year as being dangerously overweight, due to his unsuitable diet of around 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of sugar cane each day along with little room to move around.

According to ABC, With Khalil’s help, Kaavan lost 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms) over the past three months, and was down to a slimmer, more agile 9,000 pounds (over 4,000 kilograms) when he left the zoo Sunday. Kaavan would spend his days throwing his head from side to side which is a stereotypical sign of boredom and misery in an elephant.

Saheli developed a small infection in her foot that went unattended and became gangrenous. When she died, her lifeless body lay for several days beside a heartbroken Kaavan until zookeepers eventually removed her.

For much of his time in Pakistan, Kaavan was kept chained in a small enclosure surrounded by a moat of water. The floor irritated his feet and toenails, which were badly damaged and will require years of treatment in Cambodia, said Bauer. He arrived in Pakistan as a gift from Sri Lanka when he was only 1 year old.

In the sanctuary in Cambodia … waiting for him is three ladies, three Asian female elephants,” he said. “Now Kaavan might have a new partner, and share a new life with a partner.”

Khalil described how on Sunday he slowly and gently cajoled Kaavan to walk backwards into a steel crate, as nearly a dozen men carefully guided him inside using chains around his tree-trunk sized legs. Kaavan left aboard a Russian cargo plane for the 25,000-acre sanctuary early this morning.

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