‘World’s Loneliest Elephant’ Leaving Zoo In Pakistan For New Life

by : Cameron Frew on : 05 Sep 2020 17:13
'World's Loneliest Elephant' Leaving Zoo In Pakistan For New LifePA Images

After 35 years, the ‘world’s loneliest elephant’ will finally leave his Pakistan zoo for a better life. 

Kaavan has been stuck in Marghazar Zoo in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad since 1985. In the decades since, he lost his partner in 2012 and has been continually battling loneliness, which has taken a huge mental and physical toll on the creature.


His plight became a major cause for animal rights activists around the world, who lobbied for his release. Now, after a long, unhappy imprisonment, he’s set to be transferred to a better place.

Kaavan Elephant PA Images

Martin Bauer, a spokesman for international animal welfare organisation Four Paws, explained to AP that the elephant had been finally given medical approval to travel, following a full medical examination at the zoo on Friday, September 4.

While his exact destination isn’t currently known, Kaavan will probably head to Cambodia, where he’ll have more suitable conditions and a chance at companionship.

Elephant Kaavan in PakistanPA Images

Bauer said in a statement:

Following the checks, which confirmed Kaavan is strong enough, steps will now be taken to finalise his relocation to an animal sanctuary potentially in Cambodia.

Kaavan had an extremely unpleasant life in the zoo, living in a small enclosure mostly on his own. His medical examination revealed him to be overweight, despite showing signs of malnutrition. His nails were also cracked and overgrown after years of walking on flooring that continually damaged his feet.


In addition to his physical issues, Bauer explained, ‘He also developed stereotypical behavior, which means he shakes his head back and forth for hours. This is mainly because he is simply bored.’

Elephant Kaavan in PakistanPA Images

Back in May, the country’s High Court ordered that Marghazar Zoo be closed due to its awful conditions, which were attributed to systemic negligence.

Four Paws’ team, which included wildlife veterinarians and experts, had been invited by the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board to carry out Kaavan’s examination, as well as assisting with the safe transfer of other animals in the zoo.


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🇵🇰🔸#FOURPAWSinPakistan🔸🇵🇰 : Kaavan, the loneliest elephant in the world 🐘 After the Islamabad High Court made the decision to close down Marghazar zoo and to move the remaining animals to appropriate sanctuaries, we were invited to support the local authorities to help these animals. One of them is elephant Kavaan. We were asked to perform a medical examination to see whether he is fit enough for transport. Under the strictest safety precautions, our team led by Dr. Khalil and Dr. Goeritz from IZW performed Kaavan's examination. After the elephant was sedated, they took blood samples, measured him, and inserted a microchip in his left shoulder. Our team discovered that due to malnutrition and lack of physical exercise, Kaavan shows visible signs of obesity. Also, his nails are cracked and malformed which can be attributed to the inappropriate flooring and structure of his enclosure. A lack of enrichments as well as the absence of a partner, have resulted in some stereotypical behaviour – he is extremely bored and lonely. Overall, his general health condition allows him to be relocated. Following our examination and the official report, which will be submitted on Monday, the authorities will decide on the next steps for his relocation. Stay tuned for more updates about Kaavan! #Save🐘Kaavan Please support our mission in Pakistan and donate for the animals: http://bit.ly/pakistan-zoo [LINK IN PROFILE] 📸 : FOUR PAWS Xdynamix . . . #FOURPAWS #VIERPFOTEN #Pakistan #zoo #animalrescue #urgent #SOS #bear #wolves #monkey #help #animals

A post shared by FOUR PAWS | VIER PFOTEN (@four_paws_international) on

Bauer added, ‘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.’

In addition to attracting the ire of animal rights campaigners, other celebrities, such as Cher, have been very vocal about securing Kaavan’s freedom.

People have been fighting for the elephant since 2016; however, while Kaavan has been approved for travel, there isn’t an official date for his transfer to Cambodia.


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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Animals, Animal Rescue, Animal Rights, elephants, Now, Pakistan


Associated Press and 1 other
  1. Associated Press

    ‘World’s loneliest elephant’ okayed to quit zoo for new life

  2. Four Paws