Cher has said she “never actually intended” to save the elephant that features in the star’s new documentary.
Cher & The Loneliest Elephant follows the singer’s campaign to rescue Kaavan, the “world’s loneliest” elephant, who had spent almost 20 years chained up and in poor living conditions in Islamabad.
The animal’s plight inspired Cher to set up the charity Free The Wild, but the endeavour would never have happened without her Twitter followers. “I never actually intended to [save Kaavan], 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’,” Cher told PA.
“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.”
After nearly four years of campaigning – including releasing a song called ‘Walls’ to raise awareness for the issue – a Pakistan court ordered that Kaavan be freed in 2020. Cher’s Free The Wild group worked with the international rescue organisation Four Paws and vet Dr. Amir Khalil to find the elephant a new home, eventually sending him to Cambodia.
The documentary, which will air in the UK on the Smithsonian Channel on an as-yet-unconfirmed date, follows Cher’s journey to score Kaavan’s freedom. She plans to use Free The Wild to help save more animals, with the website listing ongoing projects to rescue elephants in Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Canada and the US, as well as a gorilla in Thailand.
“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 them quickly,” Cher said.
“So you have to start on all of them at one time and hope that you’ll be able to talk people into letting them go to a sanctuary.”