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This 32-Year-Old Elephant Spent His Life In Chains. But They Finally Won The Fight To Set Him Free!

Kaavan, a 32-year-old Asian elephant has spent almost his entire life in a ramshackle enclosure at the Murghazar Zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan. He had nowhere to hide from the scorching sun, and was unable to move more than a couple steps. But after all this time, his dreadful life is about to change for the better.

A woman named Samar Khan was visiting her family in Pakistan from the United States in the summer of 2015 when she heard about Kaavan and how he’d been chained up for 28 years. She knew she had to do something to change this, so she started a petition to free Kaavan that wound up causing an outrage and being signed from people all over the world.

“I was astonished and sad to see the elephant was standing at one place throughout the time (I spent almost 45 minutes in the zoo) and his legs were all chained up,” Khan wrote. “He was moving his head from left to right continuously and not once I saw that he stopped … the first thought that came to my mind was that he was drugged. He kept standing at the same place without moving a leg. The only thing that was moving in his body was his head, from left to right … it was a pitiful sight.”

Ever since Kaavan was a calf, he was forced to serve the zoo instead of freely wandering the jungle with his mother. He spent his childhood carrying kids around in a circle in his enclosure all day, even though his spine was still developing. Every day, elephants all over the world face this suffering from tourists. They are told that riding an elephant is just as natural as riding a horse, but this is incorrect. “In order to be broken to ride, baby elephants are taken from their mother at just a few months of age, they then are physically and mentally abused to have their spirit broken so that they can be submissive enough to ride,” the Free Kaavan Team said. This is sadly what Kaavan and tons of other elephants around the world have endured just for human entertainment.

Kaman when he was a calf.

Kaman when he was a calf.

In September 2015, animal activists won their fight to unchain Kaavan and allow him to walk around in the enclosure. But they wanted more freedom for Kaavan than that, and they didn’t give up until they got what they wanted.


Recently, the Free Kaavan team and people from Help Welfare Organization — which keeps a close eye on the zoo to make sure they haven’t chained Kaavan up again — presented Kaavan’s case before the Pakistan senate, arguing that he needed to move to a sanctuary, where he can be around other elephants in a more natural setting with no abuse and less stress.

Faryal Gauhar, head of communications for the Free Kaavan team, addressed the senate a record three times, arguing Kaavan’s case through research and recommendations from leading experts. Thankfully, the senate agreed that Kaavan belongs in a sanctuary!

Kaavan has spent his whole life in chains and has never been able to walk more than a few steps in his enclosure. Now, he will finally feel what it’s like to be FREE!

Once they get final approval from Pakistan’s National Assembly, Kaavan will be transported to a sanctuary in Myanmar. Not only is this a huge step forward for Kaavan, but it is the new beginning of welfare of animals in Pakistan.

Criteo FAP
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