American singer, Cher, who actively campaigned for the elephant Kaavan, is expected to arrive in Pakistan on November 27th, to see him off.
In a statement on Twitter, she confirmed she would be present in Pakistan to ensure the elephant is safely transported to Cambodia from Pakistan.
Cher to arrive Pakistan
According to Gulf News, the singer will arrive in Islamabad, as she says it will be a life-time experience to see Kaavan flying to Cambodia.
“Can’t wait to sing to him on way to Cambodia,” said Cher in a Twitter statement.
“AHHH KAAVAN’S TRAVELING CRATE & HOME WHEN HE GETS TO CAMBODIA. ITS LIKE A DOG CRATE. A VERY HUGE DOG CRATE. IN BEGINNING IT WILL MAKE HIM FEEL-SAFE & COMFORTABLE,” said Cher in a tweet.
“Just saw Kaavan made a little Video. He’s SO PRECIOUS. I Will SOB WHEN I SEE HIM 4 THE FIRST TIME Maybe I’ll need a Take 2. IM STARTING TO GET SO EXCITED,” she said in a tweet on November 15th.
Meanwhile, Director of the Four Paws Project Dr Amir Khalil informed Gulf News that all the arrangements have been made, a Russian airplane has been chartered that will land at Rawalpindi’s Chaklala Air Base, on the morning of November 29th, the same evening the Kaavan will be departed from Marghazar Zoo at 3PM in VIP protocol.
Farewell to elephant Kaavan at Islamabad Zoo
Meanwhile, on Monday Islamabad Zoo gave a farewell party to Kaavan which was attended by the public and government officials. With music, treats and balloons, friends of Pakistan’s only Asian elephant threw a farewell party for the creature ahead of its relocation to Cambodia following years of campaigning by animal rights activists.
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 that a judge in May ordered all the animals to be moved.
Kaavan is set to be flown to a wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia on Sunday, said Saleem Shaikh, a spokesman for Pakistan’s ministry of climate change, following months of veterinary care and a special training regime to habituate the elephant to a huge metal crate he will travel in.
But before flying out, the capital’s animal lovers said goodbye, with performances from local bands who serenaded Kaavan ahead of the mammoth move.
“We want to wish him a happy retirement,” said Marion Lombard, the deputy mission leader for Four Paws International — an animal welfare group that has spearheaded the relocation effort.
The Islamabad Zoo, where Kaavan has lived for decades since arriving from Sria Lanka, was decorated with balloons for the occasion and banners wishing the animal well. “We will miss you Kaavan,” read one of the signs.
Farewell and good luck. A sad but correct decision to let #Kaavan – the elephant #Islamabad has loved for over 35 years – retire to a world class elephant sanctuary in #Cambodia pic.twitter.com/Dl8NPjRQVF
— Malik Amin Aslam (@aminattock) November 23, 2020
Kaavan’s plight was given a boost over the years by American pop icon Cher, who publicly campaigned for the elephant’s relocation and called the decision to move him one of the “greatest moments” of her life.
Zoo officials have in the past denied Kaavan was kept in substandard conditions or chained, claiming instead the creature was pining for a new mate after his partner died in 2012.
But Kaavan’s behaviour — including signs of distress such as continual head-bobbing — raised concerns of mental illness.
Activists also said Kaavan was not properly sheltered from Islamabad’s searing summer temperatures, which can rise above 40 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit).
Kaavan’s mate Saheli, who also arrived from Sri Lanka, died in 2012.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk