Cher explains how she came to help save the world’s loneliest elephant: ‘I just got swept up’

Cher looking at an elephant

Cher never intended to help save the world’s loneliest elephant, until she saw “terrible” photos on social media.

Kaavan was dubbed the “world’s loneliest elephant” in 2016 when footage emerged showing him chained in his tiny enclosure in Pakistan.

Before long, Cher became involved in the campaign to save Kaavan – and in November 2020, the global hitmaker travelled to Pakistan to transport the elephant to a new animal sanctuary in Cambodia.

The incredible story is told in the new documentary Cher & The Loneliest Elephant on Paramount+, which details the abuse, neglect and trauma suffered by Kaavan.

The elephant was severely malnourished by the time he was rescued, while experts believe his unusual behaviours – such as shaking his head back and forth for hours at a time – are a sign of his poor mental health, which went on a downward spiral after his mate died in 2012.

Cher proved instrumental in making animal rights activists sit up and pay attention to Kaavan’s plight – but the “Believe” singer has revealed that she never intended to get involved in the campaign.

“I never actually intended to, I just got swept up in it because the kids on my site, on my Twitter feed, started sending me these pictures and it was all ‘free Kaavan, free Kaavan’,” she told the Press Association.

“And I looked at the pictures and they were terrible but I thought, ‘I can’t do anything’, so I didn’t answer them and thought eventually they’ll just stop. But they didn’t and so I started to get involved.”

Cher went on to found Free The Wild, an animal rights group, with Mark Cowne, Gina Nelthorpe Cowne and Jennifer Ruiz. They worked with rescue organisation Four Paws and veterinarian Amir Khalil to regime Kaavan in a wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia.

Speaking about her momentous journey to Pakistan to save Kaavan, Cher said: “It’s not the first time I’ve actually done something like this but it’s all been done with human beings.

“So it is really hard, because people now send me pictures and videos all the time, it’s really hard and Free The Wild, we’re working on a bunch of animals right now, but you don’t get to them quickly.”

The documentary premieres on streaming service Paramount+ from 22 April, while a UK air date is yet to be announced. To stream Cher & The Loneliest Elephant you can sign up to Paramount+ here.