Cher’s four-year journey to assist save an abused elephant from a Pakistani zoo is documented in “Cher & The Loneliest Elephant” now on Paramount+ and premiering May 19 on Smithsonian Channel.
The particular follows the long-lasting singer/actress’ efforts to rescue Kaavan, a 37-year-old elephant saved chained to a wall, alone, in an Islamabad zoo in squalid situations. His mate, Saheli, died in 2012 from gangrene brought on by the chains on her legs, inflicting Kaavan to rock backwards and forwards from stress and nervousness.
Kaavan’s plight was dropped at Cher’s consideration in 2016 by means of the efforts of animal rights advocate Anika Sleem, who launched a #FreeKaavan social media marketing campaign that shortly gained traction.
“I had been trying to save an elephant here I really loved with absolutely no luck,” Cher advised The Post. “Fade out, fade in, some years later…I’ve to thank the children — I’m certain not all of them are children, however I simply name them that — on my Twitter website as a result of I might by no means have finished this with out them bothering me. It was #FreeKaavan each time I used to be on [the site] and I saved considering, ‘OK, if I don’t reply them they’ll go away me alone.’
“But they didn’t, thank God,” she mentioned. “My first thought was, ‘I’m not going to have the ability to do something [to help Kaavan]; I’m simply an entertainer and he’s in Islamabad and there’s pandemic.’ I felt hopeless, however then I remembered a pal I met in Qatar, [musician/activist] Bob Geldof’s supervisor, Mark Cowne, and simply cold-called him. I mentioned one thing actually silly like, ‘You might not remember me but we rode in a car together and I know you’ve saved elephants in Africa. Can you assist me?’ I need to save an elephant in Pakistan.’
“A couple of days later he was there in Islamabad,” she mentioned. “He’s a big guy and he went up to [zoo officials] and said, ‘Take [Kaavan’s] shackles off, put some corrugated metal on top of this bulls–t thing he’s living in, it’s not big enough for him, and put some water in that little pool,’ which they did.”
Cowne contacted animal rights group Four Paws International. Led by skilled veterinarian Dr. Amir Khalil, they had been tasked with transporting Kaavan from Islamabad to a 30,000-acre animal sanctuary in Cambodia. It was dangerous, since Kaavan was in Musth, a periodic situation by which male elephants’ testosterone rises dramatically, inflicting aggressive conduct. It additionally necessitated a specifically constructed container Kaavan needed to be educated to enter so he may make the seven-hour air journey to Cambodia.
Cher, in the meantime, flew with a small safety element to satisfy Kaavan in Islamabad, then journeyed on to Cambodia to welcome him on the sanctuary.
“I had to make a decision whether I was going to go to Islamabad in a pandemic and not knowing what the people there were going to think of me, or even if they knew who I was,” Cher mentioned. “I was hoping they didn’t know, because then they would know I’m this chick from America who was naked for almost her entire life and that wouldn’t have gone down so well. But I met a lot of nice people there.”
As viewers will see, Cher and Kaavan bonded over a chunk of watermelon, with Dr. Khalil shut by. “I felt the connection,” she mentioned. “We frolicked and sang an actual unhealthy [rendition of] ‘My Way,’ which isn’t a music I feel I might ever sing in my life. Elephants adore music; I don’t assume folks have any concept how the feelings of human beings and elephants are the identical. They have compassion and anger and so they can cause — they do higher with human qualities than we do.
“When Mark first unchained Kaavan he didn’t know that he could move…they’re still getting rid of the burns on his ankles [from the shackles]…and putting all kinds of medicine on them. Can you imagine chaining your dog to something for so long and not letting him move for no apparent reason?”
Kaavan’s journey to Cambodia was uneventful, and he’ll now transition (in three levels) into residing in his pure habitat, roaming free and surrounded by different elephants.
“I watched him when we first got [to Cambodia]. It was night, but it wasn’t completely dark, and I was standing behind the crate when Kavaan had to back out of it,” Cher mentioned. “I watched him stroll across the enclosure and noticed his again — he was simply curious and was wanting round, there was not one shake of his head or his physique. He wasn’t freaking out or something.
“And there are girl [elephants] there,” she mentioned. “[Kaavan’s keeper] Derek said he was having some communication with the females and I said, ‘Oh my God — a new house and chicks at the same time!’ You saw him with one of the girls holding trunks. The tips of their trunks are much more sensitive than fingertips.”
Cher mentioned she will ultimately return to go to Kaavan. She co-founded a global charity, Free The Wild, with Cowne and his spouse, Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne, to rescue different animals in dire straits.
“I’m going to Thailand and then I’m going to stop in Cambodia to see [Kaavan], but not now because it’s too hard,” she mentioned.