The 'World's Loneliest Elephant' To Be Freed After 35 Years Of Captivity In A Pakistan Zoo

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The 'World's Loneliest Elephant' To Be Freed After 35 Years Of Captivity In A Pakistan Zoo

Photo: Amir Khalil, head of project development at FOUR PAWS International, (right) and Frank Goeritz, head of the veterinary service at Leibniz Institute for zoo and wildlife research in Berlin, take measurements of Kaavan, an elephant at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan yesterday. ©Reuters


An Asian elephant tragically kept in a tiny enclosure in a Pakistani zoo is to be freed after 35 years. The release comes after a long campaign by animal rights activists and after Pakistan's high court ordered the zoo to be shut down due to the abysmal conditions in which animals were kept in. The situation has seen the poor creature named in media reports as 'the world's loneliest elephant'.


The Marghazar zoo has been the focus of campaigning over the years due to the tiny cages, poor medical assistance and nutritional care given to the animals. It has been reported that many animals have indeed died in the zoo including two lions who were accidently burned to death.


The elephant, called Kaavan, lived at the zoo for 35 years and is said to have emotional problems due to being kept apart from other elephants in such cramped conditions. He is also said to be both overweight and undernourished, which indicates that he was fed large amounts of poor quality or inappropriate food. His nails were also overgrown, leading to painful feet.


It is believed that he will now, after a period of recuperation, be sent to a sanctuary in Cambodia where he can be around other elephants in more hospitable conditions.



Among those who have long campaigned against the zoo include mega-star Cher and the Four Paws organisation which campaigns for animal rights across the world.


Martin Bauer, a spokesman for the Four Paws organisation, said in a statement:


"Following the checks, which confirmed Kaavan is strong enough, steps will now be taken to finalize his relocation to an animal sanctuary potentially in Cambodia. He also developed stereotypical behaviour, which means he shakes his head back and forth for hours. This is mainly because he is simply bored. 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."


Rocking back and forth and pacing is a common occurrence in intelligent animals who are trapped in small cages for a long-period of time. Known as zoochosis, it is commonly seen in elephants, tigers and bears.



While it is thought that it will take Kaavan a long time to recover, it is hoped that given the right circumstances, he will be able to live the rest of his life in a way that is enjoyable and comfortable.

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Thinking Humanity: The 'World's Loneliest Elephant' To Be Freed After 35 Years Of Captivity In A Pakistan Zoo
The 'World's Loneliest Elephant' To Be Freed After 35 Years Of Captivity In A Pakistan Zoo
An Asian elephant tragically kept in a tiny enclosure in a Pakistani zoo is to be freed after 35 years. The release comes after a long campaign by animal rights activists and after Pakistan's high court ordered the zoo to be shut down due to the abysmal conditions in which animals were kept in. The situation has seen the poor creature named in media reports as 'the world's loneliest elephant'. The Marghazar zoo has been the focus of campaigning over the years due to the tiny cages, poor medical assistance and nutritional care given to the animals.
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