Elephant arrives safe in Cambodia

“The world’s loneliest elephant, named Kaavan” after languishing alone for years in a Pakistani zoo, was greeted on his arrival in Cambodia on Nov 30, 2020 by chanting Buddhist monks and was then sent on his way to a wildlife sanctuary. Like other travelers, Kaavan needed to be tested for COVID-19 before his flight. Once his large metal crate was safely on board, Kaavan was provided in-flight snacks – 440 pounds of them – for the seven-hour journey. Kaavan was not stressed during the flight, eating his food and even getting a little bit of sleep standing in his crate. The 36-year-old, 9,000 pounds elephant received a warm welcome on arrival in Cambodia. Kaavan, a 1985 gift from Sri Lanka to Pakistan, had been living in the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad with his partner Saheli, who died in 2012. The zoo fell on hard times and conditions got so bad that a court in the Pakistan capital ordered the zoo closed in August. The plight of the male Asian elephant has captured worldwide attention. Veterinarians and elephant experts spent three months in Islamabad, coaching Kaavan three times a day on how to enter and exit safely and without stress his 4-ton travel crate. He was also dangerously overweight due to his unsuitable diet of around 550 pounds of sugar cane each day. However Kaavan lost 1000 pounds over the past three months. Kaavan would spend his days throwing his head side to side, a stereotypical sign of boredom and misery in an elephant. The loss of mate Saheli took toll on Kaavan’s mental health. Elephants are social animals that thrive on the company of other elephants. Kaavan was driven by a truck to a camp in northern Cambodia where he should be able to leave his crate.