Cher in Pakistan for resettlement of ‘loneliest elephant’

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An elephant named "Kaavan," who waiting to be transported to a sanctuary in Cambodia, walks at the Maragzar Zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. Iconic singer and actress Cher was set to visit Pakistan on Friday to celebrate the departure of Kaavan, dubbed the worlds loneliest elephant, who will soon leave a Pakistani zoo for better conditions after years of lobbying by animal rights groups and activists. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

(AP) – Iconic singer and actress Cher is in Pakistan to celebrate the departure of Kaavan, dubbed the “world’s loneliest elephant,” who will soon leave a Pakistani zoo for better conditions after years of lobbying by animal rights groups and activists.

Because of security concerns, Cher's schedule was not made public. However, she met Friday with Prime Minister Imran Khan and was expected to visit Kaavan later in the trip, according to the prime minister's office. Khan's office released a video of the singer sitting with the prime minister outside on the expansive grounds of Khan's residence.

Kaavan is set to leave for a sanctuary in Cambodia on Sunday, said Martin Bauer, spokesman for Four Paws International, a global animal welfare group that's led the charge to save Kaavan since 2016..

The animal has languished in the zoo for 35 years, most of those years in chains, and lost his partner in 2012. She died after an infection turned gangrenous and her body lay beside Kaavan for several days before being removed, said Dr. Amir Khalil, veterinarian with Four Paws. Khalil said Kaavan was heartbroken after his partner died.

Activists dubbed Kaavan the “world’s loneliest elephant" after his plight gained international attention and the unhappy elephant was diagnosed as emotionally as well as physically damaged.

Khalil has treated the elephant's many wounds and ailments over the past three months. Kaavan has been diagnosed by veterinarians as both overweight and malnourished, and also suffers behavioral issues due to his isolation.

Cher took up Kaavan’s cause and has been a loud voice advocating for his resettlement. Four Paws, which often carries out animal rescue missions, will accompany Kaavan to the sanctuary.

In a tweet following her meeting with Pakistan's prime minister, Cher said she thanked Khan “for making it possible for me to take Kaavan to Cambodia.” She tweeted she was making a documentary on Kaavan and said, “think documentary will be heartwarming.”