1042 GMT April 16, 2021
Bull elephant Kaavan has spent his 35 years of life in ‘mental torment’ at Maraghzar Zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan, and has been completely alone for the last eight years since his companion Saheli died, according to mirror.co.uk.
They had shared an enclosure since 1990 and Kaavan was even made to stay with Saheli’s corpse in his pen before keepers took her body away.
After a lengthy court battle Kaavan is now set to be moved to Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary next month where he will be cared for and placed among other elephants to socialize with, the Mirror reported.
It emerged that Kaavan was reportedly tied up at all times and 401,965 people, including superstar Cher, signed a petition for him to be taken somewhere else where he would be better cared for.
At the zoo, he lived in a 90m by 140m pen with little shelter from the sun that gets to 40°C in Islamabad. Four years ago the zoo insisted the elephant was only chained when he had violent outbursts.
Kaavan’s promised mate never arrived and the bull was left lonely with disturbing reports that the zoo beat him when he got aggressive.
Vice chairman of Pakistan Wildlife Foundation Safwan Shahab Ahmad said Kaavan’s behavior of swaying and bobbing his head showed that he was suffering from ‘a kind of mental illness’.
Even the elephant’s keeper Mohammad Jalal said he had ‘hardly seen’ Kaavan happy.
Last month Dr. Amir Khalil, from the charity Four Paws, reported that Kaavan’s toenails were ‘in very bad condition’ because of no exercise, an inappropriate diet, no ‘proper foot care or appropriate flooring’.
The doctor also mentioned Kaavan’s ‘poor’ mental state including his aggressive behavior towards humans because of the ‘lack of any mental enrichment and contact with other elephants as well as humans’.
Khalil stressed the ‘very negative effects’ on elephants’ mental health when they are separated from their friends and families because they usually live in groups in the wild and are one of the ‘the most intelligent species on earth’.
Khalil has been working with Kaavan with the last month and already reports an improvement. He hopes the elephant will ‘form a group with other elephants’ and live in ‘his natural habitat’.