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Pakistan to send lonely elephant to Cambodia

DIGEST-ENG-20-07-2020-Pak (1)

A Pakistani court approved the relocation of a lonely and mistreated elephant to Cambodia after the pachyderm became the subject of a high-profile rights campaign backed by music star Cher.

Kaavan was kept in chains at Islamabad Zoo and exhibited symptoms of mental illness, prompting outrage over his treatment and a petition demanding his release that garnered over 400,000 signatures.

The capital’s High Court ordered Kaavan’s freedom in May and instructed wildlife officials to find him a “suitable sanctuary”.

Authorities told a Saturday hearing that an expert committee had recommended he be moved to a wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia.

Zoo officials have in the past denied Kaavan was chained up, instead claiming he was pining for a new mate after his partner died in 2012.

But his behaviour – including signs of distress such as bobbing his head repeatedly – demonstrated “a kind of mental illness”, Safwan Shahab Ahmad of the Pakistan Wildlife Foundation said in 2016.