Elephant's plight sparks uproar in Pakistan

2016-07-04 22:37
The elephant called 'Kaavan' takes a bath at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan. (Anjum Naveed, AP)

The elephant called 'Kaavan' takes a bath at the Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan. (Anjum Naveed, AP)

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Islamabad - The plight of Kaavan, a mentally tormented bull elephant confined to a small pen in the Islamabad Zoo for nearly three decades has galvanised a rare animal rights campaign in Pakistan.

Local and international animal rights organisations launched the campaign a year ago after reports that zookeepers were beating the elephant and denying it food. An online petition has gained over 280 000 signatures and small protests have been held outside the zoo. Raza Rabbani, the chairperson of Pakistan's senate, has called on authorities to transfer Kaavan to a sanctuary.

The campaign has also attracted international attention, with rights groups and celebrities, including the singer Cher, calling for the elephant to be moved to a more humane facility.

Elephants are gregarious by nature and males can become aggressive when they are separated from the herd. Kaavan, who was brought to the zoo from Sri Lanka in the mid-1980s, grew even more unruly when the female elephant he was being kept with died in 2012.

Activists say caretakers have responded to his aggression by chaining his legs, beating him and confining him to an enclosure that is far too small.

Animal rights groups have called on Pakistan to relocate Kaavan to an animal sanctuary in Myanmar and have launched petitions to cover the costs.

Read more on:    pakistan  |  animals

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