Islamabad: Cher music icon marked “ONE OF THE HIGHEST TIMES OF MY LIFE” Thursday after a Pakistani court ordered freedom for a lonely elephant named Kaavan, who has been the subject of a high-rights campaign supported by US singers.
“WE HAVE HEARED FROM PAKISTAN HIGH KAAVAN FREE,” Cher tweeted, adding a series of emojis and saying he felt “SICK”.
“THIS IS ONE OF THE HIGHEST TIMES OF MY LIFE,” the effusive singer continued.
The Islamabad High Court has ordered wildlife officials to consult with Sri Lanka to find Kaavan as a “suitable sanctuary” within 30 days, tweeted the Islamabad Zoo, which describes itself as a group of citizens who care about animal welfare in the zoo.
Anger over the care of Kaavan, an Asian elephant from Sri Lanka, went global a few years ago with a petition that collected more than 200,000 signatures after it was discovered that he was being chained at the Islamabad Zoo in the leafy capital of Pakistan.
Zoo officials later said this was no longer the case, and that he only needed a new partner after his colleague who had previously died in 2012.
But experts have said before that without a better habitat the future is bleak, even if the promised new partner finally arrives.
His behavior – including signs of distress such as shaking his head repeatedly – shows “a kind of mental illness”, Safwan Shahab Ahmad of the Pakistan Wildlife Foundation said in 2016.
Activists say he has inadequate shelter from the burning summer temperatures in Islamabad, which can rise to above 40 degrees Celsius.
Asian elephants can roam thousands of kilometers through deep tropical and subtropical forests, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
In contrast, the Kaavan pen, which is 90 by 140 meters, has almost no leaves, and there is little shade available.
Arriving as a one-year-old child in 1985 from Sri Lanka, Kaavan was temporarily imprisoned in 2002 because zoo keepers were concerned about an increasing tendency to violence, but he was released later that year after protests.
His colleague, Saheli, who arrived also from Sri Lanka in 1990, died in 2012, and in 2015 it was discovered that Kaavan was regularly chained once more – for several hours a day.
Many people signed the petition sent to zoo authorities and then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in protest.
The second petition circulated in 2016 and was supported by more than 200,000 animal lovers from all over the world demanding the release of Kaavan to a sanctuary.
Cher, who for years has been talking about Kaavan’s sadness, tweeted thanks to the Pakistani government, adding “it was very emotional for us that I had to sit down”.
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