Transporting a five-ton elephant across the entire continent of Asia is no easy feat. And yet that’s exactly what Cher endeavored to do last year. Though, this wasn’t just any elephant. The bull elephant Kaavan’s had endured a nearly three-decade miserable stint at a zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan. Things had grown particularly brutal over there past eight years; his enclosure mate, Saheli, died in 2012. Shackled, completely isolated, and forced to entertain visitors who occasionally forced him to drink whiskey, Kaavan grew erratic, obese, and depressed.
Luckily, as you’ll see in the new trailer for Cher and the Loneliest Elephant, the singer joined animal activists in campaigning for Pakistan to shutter the zoo and set the animals free. In May, they found success, prompting Cher to launch an animal rescue profit, Free the Wild. “I was frightened, but then I thought, what do you want to do more?,” she said in a statement. “You made a promise, and you have to go. I didn’t see any other way to do it. I have a saying on my Twitter, ’Stand and be counted or sit and be nothing.’ And I wasn’t going to sit and be nothing.”
These days, Kaavan enjoys the company of 600 other elephants at a wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia; Cher was right by his side in November to help him move in. (After he lost enough weight to fit on the transport crate.) You can join them on their voyage when the doc premieres on Paramount+ on April 22, and airs on the Smithsonian Channel on May 19.