Elephant Undergoes Music Therapy

KAAVAN, an elephant that spent 35 years locked up alone in a zoo, is reportedly responding well to music therapy and favours Frank Sinatra.

Back in September, the world heard the good news that Kaavan was to be released after 35 years alone in captivity in a zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan. He had been gifted to the country by Sri Lanka in 1985. His partner, Saheli, lived with him at the zoo from 1990 until her death in 2012.

Kaavan became overweight and also has other physical and psychological ailments. His nails are cracked and feet damaged from years walking on unsuitable flooring, and he has behavioural issues, the vets from animal aid group Four Paws International reported. These are a result of boredom from being alone and with no interaction. Frank Göritz, head veterinarian at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, explained that Kaavan had developed “stereotypical behaviour where he swooshes his head and trunk from side to side for hours.”

Kaavan gained fame as “the world’s loneliest elephant,” a sad title given to him by animal rights groups and celebrities, including Cher, who campaigned against his unsuitable captivity.

Vets examined him and confirmed in September that he is strong enough to travel to an elephant sanctuary in Cambodia. He is expected to travel at the end of November, but in the meantime, to prepare him for the 4,000 km journey in a steel cage, he has been undergoing music therapy in an attempt to calm him and cheer him up. This, together with other calming methods, is reportedly working. Several songs, genres and artists have been played to Kaavan, and his favourite is said to be Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’, which reduces his anxiety and damaging behaviour. This could be one of the tunes which is played on the trip to keep the elephant calm.

In May, Pakistan’s High Court ruled that Marghazar Zoo, where the elephant was kept, had to close because of its systematic neglect and unsafe conditions for animals. Since then, two lions died during an attempted transfer, when animal handlers lit a fire in their enclosure to force them into crates.

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Written by

Jennifer Leighfield

Jennifer Leighfield, born in Salisbury, UK; resident in Malaga, Spain since 1989. Degree in Translation and Interpreting in Spanish, French and English from Malaga University (2005), specialising in Crime, Forensic Medicine and Genetics. Published translations include three books by Richard Handscombe. Worked with Euro Weekly News since November 2006. Well-travelled throughout Spain and the rest of the world, fan of Harry Potter and most things ‘geek’.