Finally, ‘world’s loneliest elephant’ can breathe freedom
pic: Associated Press

An elephant who has become a cause celebre for animal rights activists around the world will be allowed to leave his Pakistani zoo and transferred to better conditions, the animal welfare group helping with the case said on Saturday.

Dubbed the 'world's loneliest elephant' by his supporters, Kaavan has languished at a zoo in Islamabad for more than 35 years.

Martin Bauer, a spokesman for Four Paws, said the elephant has been finally given medical approval to travel, most likely to Cambodia, where he will find companionship and better conditions.

Rescuing Kaavan from the zoo's dire conditions attracted the attention of animal activists around the world, and celebrities including US singer Cher, who lobbied for his relocation.

Kaavan has until now been forced to live a solitary life in a small enclosure.

Friday's medical examination showed the elephant was overweight, even as he showed signs of malnutrition. His nails were cracked and overgrown apparently from years of living in an improper enclosure with flooring that damaged his feet. "Following the checks, which confirmed Kaavan is strong enough, steps will now be taken to finalize his relocation to an animal sanctuary potentially in Cambodia," Bauer said.

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