A Smithsonian documentary will feature Kaavan, dubbed the “world’s loneliest elephant,” who Cher greeted Monday in Cambodia after her charity’s rescue flight.
Kaavan was sent to Pakistan more than three decades ago as a gift from former Sri Lanka dictator Gen. Zia-ul-Haq. In 2012, his mate for 22 years, Saheli, died, leaving him alone for eight years and leading to him becoming known as “world’s loneliest elephant.”
Grammy-winning singer Cher, 74, had campaigned for Kaavan’s freedom from a zoo in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, where he was on occasion restrained in chains, and suffered malnourishment and negligence leading to cracked nails and behavioral issues.
In May, the Islamabad Hight Court ruled the elephant could be released from the zoo.
Cher greeted the 36-year-old elephant on the tarmac at an airport in Cambodia Monday after his flight from Pakistan in a custom-made crate with more than 440 pounds of food after her charity, Free the Wild, assisted the move. Animal rescue organization Four Paws said Kaavan would be released from the crate in daylight Tuesday to a sanctuary in Cambodia with space to roam and 600 fellow pachyderms.
The documentary to air on the Smithsonian Channel in 2021 is tentatively titled “Cher’s Elephant Airlift.”
The rescue was a first for the charity Free the Wild, which Cher co-founded to help stop captive animals suffering.
“This is Free the Wild’s first big rescue and I am so proud,” Cher said. “We are thrilled to partner with the Smithsonian Channel who will be helping to bring our story to the world.”
Last week Cher arrived in Pakistan to thank the government for Kaavan’s release and join him for his flight.
“I found out about Kaavan from the people on my Twitter,” Cher said in a statement regarding the upcoming documentary. “They would not stop saying, ‘Cher, you have to do something, you have to fix this, you have to save him.’ I thought, how can I fix this?