The animal welfare group Four Paws announced Saturday that a world-famous elephant will be moved out of the Pakistan zoo where he had been held and relocated to better conditions. Kaavan, the elephant, had been kept at Islamabad’s Marghazar Zoo for the past 35 years in what has been described by the animal rights group as dismal conditions. His deteriorating health and detrimental solitude led Haavan to become known globally as the “world’s loneliest elephant.”
“A lack of physical and behavioural enrichments as well as the absence of a partner, have resulted in Kaavan becoming incredibly bored,” said Dr Frank Göritz, head veterinarian at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin in a press release announcing the transfer. “He has already developed stereotypical behaviour where he swooshes his head and trunk from side to side for hours.”
After performing a medical exam on Kaavan, veterinarians with Four Paws determined the elephant, though obese and in dire need of foot treatment, was capable of relocation, potentially to a sanctuary in Cambodia. Kaavan had been the subject of an international welfare campaign launched in 2016. The elephant’s partner died in 2012, and Kaavan had been kept in a solitary pen ever since, during which time his health has greatly deteriorated. Veterinarians determined he needs extensive foot rehabilitation and increased physical movement.
In May of this year, Pakistan’s high court ordered the Marghazar Zoo closed due to its dismal conditions resulting from systemic negligence. The decision was made to move the lonely elephant to a sanctuary. Four Paws and other organizations are working to find a home for other animals at the shuttered Marghazar Zoo, including two dancing bears.