Cher, the singer, actress, and early Joe Biden supporter met with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday. She was not there to discuss foreign policy or an international cultural exchange, but the well-being of Kavaan, a 35-year-old elephant who has lived most of his life at the Islamabad Zoo.
The not-so-hot conditions there inspired a campaign to have the pachyderm released, a cause Cher has been involved with since 2016. She has sent representatives to the zoo in the past to check up on the animal, tweeting updates to her 3.8 million followers.
When the high court announced in May that Kavaan would be freed, she called it “one of the greatest moments of my life.”
Kavaan’s “loneliest elephant” moniker stems from his solitude following the death of his mate, Saheli, in 2012. She died after an infection turned gangrenous, and her corpse laid in captivity next to Kavaan for days before being removed. Dr. Amir Khalil, a veterinarian with the group Four Paws, says the event has left Kavaan heartbroken. Both elephants were gifted to Pakistan from Bangladesh in 1985.
Cher’s visit wasn’t publicized in advance, but PM Khan released a silent video of an outdoor meeting between himself, the popstar/advocate, and others, including men in military uniforms.
The next stop for Kavaan is an elephant sanctuary in Cambodia, where he will find better treatment than in the notorious Islamabad Zoo (previously known as Marghazar Zoo). He has a long road to recovery ahead; Four Paws reported in September that he had damaged feet and nails from the bad living conditions, a weight problem from an improper diet, and nervous tics likely stemming from years of boredom.
Cher thanked PM Khan in a tweet, and added that a documentary will come from all this that will be “heartwarming.” She is expected to visit with Kavaan later in her trip.
Martin Bauer, spokesperson for Four Paws, said that “celebrities lending their voices to good causes are always welcomed, as they help starting public discourse and raising pressure on responsible authorities.”
Cher, you did good.
Let’s celebrate Kavaan’s freedom with by listening to Cher.
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