As India mourns the tragic killing of a pregnant elephant in Kerala after she ate pineapple filled with crackers, there is a piece of good news from neighboring country Pakistan where an elephant, living in sorry existence for years, has been granted freedom. Islamabad High Court ruled that the 33-year-old Asian jumbo named Kaavan should be released from Murghazar Zoo in Pakistan's capital and ordered officials to find a suitable sanctuary for him within a month.
This couldn't be possible without of his longtime champion Cher, an American pop singer, actress, and television personality. Cher has been advocating for Kaavan's release ever since she saw the pictures of him living alone and chained in a small enclosure some four years ago.
After the Islamabad High Court's order, the pop icon thanked the Government of Pakistan and said that this was one of the greatest moments of her life and that tears were rolling down her face. "THIS IS ONE OF THE GREATEST MOMENTS OF MY LIFE. CANT STOP (crying emoji)," Cher tweeted.
The singer also thanked Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan for helping her secure Kaavan's freedom. "I was a big fan of you when you played cricket @ImranKhanPTI. I always thought you seemed so kind. Thank you so much for your help. This is a dream come true!! @ftwglobal #kaavan," she wrote.
A gift to former dictator General Zia-ul-Haq from Sri Lanka
A gift to former Pakistani dictator General Zia-ul-Haq from Sri Lanka, Kaavan was only one-year-old when he first arrived in Pakistan. He was kept as normal animals for the first few years but his life turned into a tragedy in 2002 when the zoo started to hold him in chains. The zoo was concerned about the safety of people as the elephant began to develop violent tendencies.
Although he was in chains, Kaavan was not the loneliest till 2012 and had a mate named Saheli, who arrived in the zoo from Bangladesh in 1990. However, after the death of Saheli in 2012, the zoo didn't bring any other companion for him and he began to show further distress. Soon, people in Pakistan started calling him the loneliest elephant.
His life became a sorry existence and his keepers started stealing his food and fruits. Last year, the zoo suspended his keepers when it found out about them stealing his food. Kaavan would often be severely dehydrated and if not his keepers, wild boars would break into his enclosure and eat his bread and fruits.
In 2016, Cher came across his story and started an online campaign for the elephant's release. A petition for Kaavan's release on change.org reportedly received more than two lakh signatures. Cher also sent a representative to the zoo to secure his freedom.