Embarking on the adventure of a lifetime, cameras follow the one and only Cher as she races to save the ‘world’s loneliest elephant’. Cher and The Loneliest Elephant (Smithsonian 22 April 8pm) is a remarkable documentary film follwoing an urgent, captivating journey to save Kaavan, a male Asian elephant who has spent nearly a decade alone in captivity in Pakistan. A co-founder of Free the Wild, Cher is working alongside an extended team of expert wildlife veterinarians from animal aid group Four Paws International, government officials and sanctuary owners to safely transport Kaavan to his new home, an elephant refuge in Cambodia. Kaavan’s flight to freedom is an emotional journey of high stakes and resilience as the team overcome many hurdles, all during a global pandemic.
For years the plight of Kaavan has been a flashpoint in the discussion of substandard conditions in zoos around the world. He spent nearly two decades in chains and was the poster elephant for the plight of captive Asian elephants, so much so that Cher recorded a song agitating for his release. Kept in a tiny dilapidated shed under the scorching sun, Kaavan’s condition grew worse in 2012 when his mate died of neglect. But now after years of campaigning, the Pakistani High Court finally ordered freedom for him and nearly a thousand animals suffering in cruel conditions at an Islamabad Zoo. Cher announced the success of her campaign to her 3.7 million followers on Twitter.
Together with her agent and charity cofounder Mark Cowne, Cher travelled to Islamabad to witness Kaavan’s escape. But time was running out as the Pakistani court ordered that the animals must be relocated within 60 days. Cameras follow the tale of Cher and her modern-day Ark as Kaavan is transported to freedom.