Iconic singer and actress Cher is in Pakistan to celebrate the departure of Kaavan, dubbed the "world's loneliest elephant," who will soon leave a Pakistani zoo for better conditions after years of lobbying by animal rights groups and activists. Because of security concerns, Cher's schedule was not made public, per the AP. However, she met Friday with Prime Minister Imran Khan and was expected to visit Kaavan the elephant later in the trip, per the prime minister's office. Kaavan is set to leave for a sanctuary in Cambodia on Sunday, says Martin Bauer of Four Paws International, a global animal welfare group that's led the charge to save him since 2016. Kaavan, who lost his partner in 2012, has languished in the zoo for 35 years. He was diagnosed by veterinarians as both overweight and malnourished, and he also suffers behavioral issues due to his isolation.
Because of the abysmal living conditions blamed on systemic negligence, Pakistan's high court in May ordered the closure of Marghazar Zoo in the capital of Islamabad, where Kaavan has lived for much of his life. A medical examination in September showed Kaavan's nails were cracked and overgrown, the result of years of living in an improper enclosure with flooring that damaged his feet. The elephant has also taken to shaking his head back and forth for hours, which a medical team blames on his utter boredom. Cher took up Kaavan's cause and has been a loud voice advocating for his resettlement. Even after he's in Cambodia, he'll require years of physical and even psychological assistance, Bauer says. Bauer also lauds the powerful impact celebrity voices can have for animal rights, noting that "lending their voices to good causes are always welcomed, as they help [in] starting public discourse and raising pressure on responsible authorities."
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