A 35-year-old male elephant, fondly known as Kaavan, who has been living in captivity in a zoo in Pakistan, is finally going to be set free. 

According to reports, the decision to release the elephant from captivity was taken by the Islamabad High Court on 22nd May. The court released a statement saying that the elephant must be relocated from Islamabad Zoo to a sanctuary where he can enjoy his freedom. 

However, since Pakistan doesn’t have a suitable sanctuary for the elephant to be released, the zoo authorities have chosen an elephant sanctuary in Cambodia to be his new home. 


Kaavan was born in 1985. He was offered by Sri Lanka to Pakistan as a gift to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries. In 1990, Kaavan did get a companion named Saheli but, she passed away in 2012. 

Over the years, Kaavan grew lonely and soon he became to be known as “Pakistan’s loneliest elephant.” He showed no signs of improvement. He started experiencing bouts of boredom, lethargy, stress and aggression. The situation became so bad that one day his keepers had to finally chain him up.

Since then, he’s been chained for many years. 


His mental and physical condition kept deteriorating significantly and activists around the world took notice. In 2016, a campaign was started by animal activists for the release of Kaavan. 

A petition demanding the release of the elephant was also being circulated and more than 400,000 people, from around the world signed it. And, that’s how Kaavan finally got his freedom. 

After the court ruling, animal activists were quite relieved. Chris Draper, head of animal welfare and captivity at the Born Free Foundation, said:

Any sanctuary must be a genuine sanctuary, where he will enjoy space, appropriate care, the company of elephants as appropriate and a life free from chaining. 

Now, moving Kaavan from Pakistan to Cambodia is going to be another challenging task that authorities need to look into. 

Experts say his living conditions at the Islamabad zoo were inadequate but, they are hopeful that Kaavan’s health (physical and mental) will improve once he starts living in his natural habitat. 

This is great news!