Monday, November 30th, 2020
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Published Monday, November 30, 2020 8:14AM EST Last Updated Monday, November 30, 2020 8:35AM EST
Cher was at Siem Reap airport and waved excitedly at the plane after it landed. (AFP)
SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA — An elephant dubbed the “world’s loneliest” landed in Cambodia Monday from Pakistan, receiving a warm welcome from American superstar Cher who will accompany him to a sanctuary housing potential mates.
The case of Kaavan — an overweight, 36-year-old bull elephant — sparked global uproar from animal rights groups, who petitioned for his move from an Islamabad zoo accused of substandard care and conditions.
His cause was boosted by a spirited social media campaign by Cher, who travelled to Pakistan to see him off.
Wearing a black face mask, the singer was on hand at Siem Reap airport and waved excitedly at the plane after it landed around 2:30 pm (0730 GMT).
“I am so proud he is here,” she told AFP, after greeting Kaavan through an opening at the base of the crate.
“He’s going to be really happy here,” said Cher, adding that she is hopeful his ordeal is now over.
Kaavan’s much-anticipated journey was “uneventful”, said Amir Khalil, a veterinarian from animal welfare group Four Paws, adding he behaved “like a frequent flyer”.
“Kaavan was eating, was not stressed — he was even a little bit sleeping, standing, leaning at the crate wall,” he said.
Once the sole Asian elephant in Pakistan, Kaavan will be transported from Siem Reap to neighbouring province Oddar Meanchey where a wildlife sanctuary with about 600 other elephants will be his new home.
“Cambodia is pleased to welcome Kaavan. No longer will he be ‘the world’s loneliest elephant,'” deputy environment minister Neth Pheaktra said.
“We expect to breed Kaavan with local elephants — this is an effort to conserve the genetic fold,” the minister told AFP.
Before he was transported to the sanctuary, monks offered him bananas and watermelon, chanting prayers and sprinkling holy water on his crate to bless him.
YEARS OF CAMPAIGNING
Kaavan’s journey is the culmination of years of campaigning from animal rights groups, who say the animal’s behaviour in captivity demonstrated “a kind of mental illness” likely due to the zoo’s woeful conditions.Read More …
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