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FREEDOM: ‘World’s loneliest elephant’ Kaavan given green light for new life

Kaavan has been forced to live a solitary life in a small zoo enclosure for more than 35 years. He is malnourished, has damaged feet, and developed stereotypical behavior.

KATHY GANNON: An elephant who has become a cause celebre for animal rights activists around the world will be allowed to leave his Pakistani zoo in favour of better conditions, animal welfare activists have said. Dubbed the “world’s loneliest elephant” by his supporters, Kaavan has languished at Marghazar Zoo in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad for more than 35 years. Martin Bauer, a spokesman for animal rights group Four Paws, said the elephant has been finally given medical approval to travel, most likely to Cambodia, where he will find companionship and better conditions…

Kaavan has until now been forced to live a solitary life in a small enclosure… A medical examination showed the elephant was overweight, even as he showed signs of malnutrition. His nails were cracked and overgrown apparently from years of living in an improper enclosure with flooring that damaged his feet… His recovery will be a long one, said Mr Bauer, adding that Kaavan’s wounds are more than just physical. He also suffers from behavioural issues… “He also developed stereotypical behaviour, which means he shakes his head back and forth for hours. This is mainly because he is simply bored,” said Mr Bauer…

In May, Pakistan’s High Court ordered Marghazar Zoo to be closed because of abysmal conditions, blamed on systemic negligence. Rescuing Kaavan from the zoo’s dire conditions attracted the attention of animal activists around the world – as well as celebrities including US singer Cher, who lobbied for his relocation. Mr Bauer added: “Unfortunately, the rescue comes too late for two lions that died during an attempted transfer at the end of July after local animal handlers set a fire in their enclosure to force them into their transport crates”. SOURCE…

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