The “world’s loneliest elephant,” Kaavan, started his new life at a sanctuary in northern Cambodia’s Oddar Meanchey province after languishing in captivity for over 35 years. He joins around 600 other elephants, who “live in peace and tranquility,” according to a statement from Neth Pheatktra, a spokesperson for the country’s Environmental Ministry.
Kaavan arrived at his new home this week after a seven-hour flight from Pakistan, where he spent nearly his entire life in a small, barren enclosure at Marghazar Zoo. Worse yet, Kaavan was isolated for eight years after his partner, Saheli, passed away in 2012.
In addition to being overweight, malnourished, and having cracked feet from his substandard living conditions, solitary confinement caused the elephant to develop a condition called “zoochosis,” or frequent and repetitive behavior for no apparent reason like swaying, rocking, or pacing back and forth. This is a telltale display of extreme boredom and loneliness.
In a landmark victory for animal rights, the Islamabad High Court ruled in July that animals have basic rights, including living in an environment conducive to their social and physiological needs. The move came amid a lengthy and hard-fought battle for Kaavan’s freedom, and as a result, he and numerous other animals were rescued from Marghazar Zoo, which the court ruled caused unnecessary pain and suffering to its inhabitants.
Kaavan received medical clearance to travel in September and is one of very few rescued elephants to fly to their new destination. A Four Paws veterinarian accompanied him in his journey to ensure that he remained safe and well-nourished along the way.
Lady Freethinker applauds the dedicated activists and lawmakers who fought for Kaavan’s freedom. He can now finally start healing from a lifetime of trauma among new friends in a safe and stimulating environment.