US pop star Cher arrives to see off Kaavan

Published November 28, 2020
An IWMB official paints an image of Kavaan on the crate in which the elephant will be shifted to Cambodia. — White Star
An IWMB official paints an image of Kavaan on the crate in which the elephant will be shifted to Cambodia. — White Star

ISLAMABAD: US iconic pop star Cher arrived in the capital on Friday to see off Kaavan, the lonely elephant at Marghazar Zoo, being relocated to a sanctuary in Cambodia on Sunday.

Cher, 74, will remain in Pakistan for three days and on the first day of her visit she called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and offered her support for furthering the green initiatives of the PTI government through her organisation - Free the Wild.

Cher’s host in Pakistan told Dawn that the US singer also spent some time with Kaavan in the zoo.

The zoo was virtually sealed by the Islamabad police and the US security personnel.

The host said Cher will spend time in the zoo where she would film a song with Kaavan as a farewell gesture. She will return to the US on Sunday. Cher has been the leading global voice for Kaavan’s relocation.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Climate Change issued an invitation to the media to cover a joint press conference of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul Wazir along with the US pop star to bid farewell to Kaavan on Saturday.

However, Ministry of Climate Change spokesman Mohammad Saleem told Dawn on Friday night that the press conference scheduled for Saturday has been cancelled and now it would be held on Sunday.

He, however, said Cher will not take part in the press conference on Sunday.

On the same day, Kaavan will be placed in a container and sent to the airport for shifting to its new home in Cambodia.

Talking to Dawn, Malik Aslam said Kaavan was a gift by Sri Lanka to Zain Zia, the daughter of former military dictator Ziaul Haq, in 1980s.

The giant elephant began to show signs of distress after its mate Saheli died in 2013.

Vets from Four Paws, a Vienna-based organisation, had evaluated Kaavan’s physical and emotional health in September and declared it fit for relocation.

Mr Aslam said Kaavan was being sent to Cambodia because it was on its retiring age of 37.

“In Cambodian sanctuary, Kaavan will live in a herd of elephants and thus its loneliness will be addressed. Normal age of an elephant is 45 or 46 years and Kaavan has already completed 37,” he said.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2020

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