Cher helps rescue ‘world’s loneliest elephant’ from captivity in Pakistan

Nation/world
Kavaan, Pakistan's only Asian elephant, enters to feed inside a transport crate to make him habituated before traveling to a sanctuary in Cambodia later this month, at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad on November 11, 2020. - The plight of Kaavan, an overweight, 35-year-old bull elephant has drawn international condemnation and highlighted the woeful state of Islamabad's zoo, where conditions are so bad a judge in May ordered all the animals to be moved. (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

Kavaan, Pakistan’s only Asian elephant, enters to feed inside a transport crate to make him habituated before traveling to a sanctuary in Cambodia later this month, at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad on November 11, 2020. – The plight of Kaavan, an overweight, 35-year-old bull elephant has drawn international condemnation and highlighted the woeful state of Islamabad’s zoo, where conditions are so bad a judge in May ordered all the animals to be moved. (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

She is the 74-year-old, ever-glamorous “Goddess of Pop.” He spent 27 years in chains, once killed a zookeeper and has been called the loneliest elephant in the world.

The unlikely pair are due to meet next week in Cambodia, where they will plunge into a jungle once controlled by the Khmer Rouge as the 35-year-old bull elephant named Kaavan is transferred to a sanctuary after years in abusive captivity in Pakistan.

The move will cap a years-long effort to rescue Kaavan, who as a baby was given as a gift from the government of Sri Lanka to the head of the Pakistani army. He ended up in the Islamabad Zoo where he lost his mate, Saheli, in 2012, reportedly was beaten and chained after he trampled one of his keepers to death, had his food stolen by handlers and eventually broke down in self-harm and mental illness.

Kaavan became a cause célèbre among animal rights activists — none more famous than Cher, the Oscar-winning actress and singer who cofounded Free the Wild, a wildlife protection charity.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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