PHNOM PENH — Pakistan’s lonely elephant Kaavan arrived in Cambodia by cargo plane on Monday to start a new life with 600 fellow pachyderms at a local sanctuary, the result of years of campaigning for his relocation by American singer Cher.
Cher was on the tarmac at the airport of Cambodia’s second-biggest city Siem Reap to greet the elephant and met the vets who accompanied Kaavan on his long journey in a custom-made crate, with more than 200 kg (441 lbs) of food to keep him busy.
Animal rescue organization Four Paws said 36-year-old Kaavan, who had spent most of his life at Islamabad Zoo without a companion, would be released from his crate in daylight on Tuesday at a sanctuary.
“Kaavan was eating, was not stressed, he was even a little bit sleeping, standing leaning at the crate wall. He behaves like a Frequent Flyer,” said Amir Khalil, a Four Paws vet.
“The flight was uneventful, which is all you can ask for when you transfer an elephant.”
The multi award-winning singer posed for pictures at the airport in sunglasses and a black facemask holding up a Pakistan vehicle license plate bearing her name and that of the elephant.
Cher had written songs pressing for Kaavan’s release from grim, isolated conditions at Islamabad Zoo and she had spent the last few days with him in Pakistan.