Kaavan, the 'world's loneliest elephant' packs his trunk as he leaves Pakistan horror zoo for a new life at Cambodian sanctuary
The world's loneliest elephant kept in a tiny enclosure in a Pakistan horror zoo is finally leaving for a new life at a Cambodian sanctuary.
With music, treats and balloons, friends of Pakistan's only Asian elephant threw a farewell party for the creature ahead of his relocation from Islamabad after years of campaigning by animal rights activists.
The plight of Kaavan, an overweight, 35-year-old bull elephant, has drawn international condemnation and highlighted the woeful state of Marghazar Zoo,
Conditions are so bad at the zoo that a judge in May ordered all the animals to be moved.
Kaavan is set to be flown to a wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia on Sunday, said Saleem Shaikh, a spokesman for Pakistan's ministry of climate change.
It follows months of veterinary care and a special training regime to habituate the elephant to a huge metal crate he will travel in.
Medical exams in September showed his nails were cracked and overgrown apparently from years of living in an improper enclosure with flooring that damaged his feet.
But before flying out, the Islamabad's animal lovers said goodbye, with performances from local bands who serenaded Kaavan ahead of the move.
'We want to wish him a happy retirement,' said Marion Lombard, the deputy mission leader for Four Paws International, an animal welfare group that has spearheaded the relocation effort.
动物福利组织四爪国际(Four Paws International)的副团长隆巴德(Marion Lombard)说，我们希望他退休后生活愉快。该组织是动物福利组织，是搬迁工作的带头人。
The Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad, where Kaavan has lived for decades since arriving from Sri Lanka, was decorated with balloons for the occasion and banners wishing the animal well.
'We will miss you Kaavan,' read one of the signs.
Kaavan's plight was given a boost over the years by American pop icon Cher, who publicly campaigned for the elephant's relocation and called the decision to move him one of the 'greatest moments' of her life.
In May, Pakistan's High Court ordered the Marghazar Zoo closed because of its abysmal conditions blamed on systemic negligence.
Zoo officials have in the past denied Kaavan was kept in substandard conditions or chained, claiming instead the creature was pining for a new mate after his partner died in 2012.
But Kaavan's behaviour, including signs of distress such as continual head-bobbing, raised concerns of mental illness.
Activists also said Kaavan was not properly sheltered from Islamabad's searing summer temperatures, which can rise above 40 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit).
Kaavan's mate Saheli, who also arrived from Sri Lanka, died in 2012.