There seems to be no end to the suffering of Kavaan – the lone elephant at the Islamabad Zoo – as the animal spent an entire chilly and rainy night in the moat in March 2020. Officials in the zoo said Kavaan fell into the moat one evening and was pulled out after breaking the front wall of the moat the next morning.
However, there were conflicting reports about how the elephant ended up in the moat. Some officials claimed that the elephant was deliberately brought down to the moat by a zoo official to make it an issue. They said there was no sign to indicate that the animal slipped into the moat. They also said Kavaan remained in the ditch standing. None of the zoo officials deputed with Kavaan were present on duty. However, a number of zoo officials confirmed that the elephant remained in the moat the whole night in the rain.
“We are going to hold an inquiry into the incident. If it is established that the animal was brought down into the ditch deliberately, strict disciplinary action will be taken against the guilty official,” said Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz. He said after hectic efforts, the animal was brought back to its enclosure. “During inquiry everything will become clear,” Mr Aziz said, adding that CCTV cameras would be installed in the elephant enclosure.
In 2019, seven nilgais died in the zoo after consuming poisonous food as determined in the autopsy reports. Some say that a few Zoo officials carry out such incidents to safeguard their interests.
A zoo official said the animal was a source of income for some staff members who take money from the visitors to arrange sugarcane for the animal when sugarcanes are purchased from official funds. However, another official of the zoo claimed that this practice had stopped now and an inquiry was underway in a previous case. In the past, the zoo staff used to collect money from visitors.
Kavaan gained international fame after its case was taken up by animal rights activists, including American singer Cher.
The animal does not have an enclosure large enough so that it can move freely and the three-walled structure made for it does not provide adequate shade in summer.
The animal has been living alone ever since its partner Saheli died in 2012 reportedly due to negligence of the zoo staff.