ISLAMABAD: A Senate committee on Monday recommended moving Kaavan, a 31-year-old male Asian elephant in Islamabad Zoo, to Sri Lanka or any other suitable sanctuary abroad.

The Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat discussed the issue of Kaavan on the directions of Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani.

Rabbani had taken notice of the issue after media reported “terrible conditions” under which Kaavan was kept in the zoo.

Committee Chairman Senator Talha Mehmood along with members of the committee Senator Kulsoom Perveen and Senator Samina Abid recommended to send Kaavan abroad in natural atmosphere so that its condition is improved.

Federal Minister for Capital Administration and Development Division (CAD) Tariq Fazl Chaudhry opposed the suggestion and said the government was working on plans to privatise the Islamabad Zoo in an effort to improve Kaavan's condition.

“A female companion will be brought for Kavaan from Sri Lanka,” Chaudhry said.

Senator Samina Abid, however, contradicted to Chaudhry’s suggestion, saying “a female elephant of Kaavan’s age cannot be transported from abroad”.

“According to animal experts only baby elephant can be transported,” she added.

Kaavan has been kept in chains since the death of its female companion, Saheli, back in 2012. Kaavan was brought to the zoo in 1985 — as a gift by Sri Lanka.

It was unchained in September last year, after Prime Minister Nawaz Shairf intervened following criticism from international animal rights activists which had advocated that the elephant be sent to an international sanctuary.

After being kept in chains for such a long time, Kaavan has become aggressive. Senator Nuzhat Sadiq, accompanied by other colleagues, visited the zoo and submitted their observations in a report with the Senate.

Committee members suggested Kaavan to be shifted back to Sri Lanka or to any other suitable sanctuary abroad, as “it would be the best solution for improvement of its health and mental condition”.