8:00am PT by Rick Porter
Cher-Led Elephant Rescue Doc Set at Smithsonian Channel (Exclusive)
Cher is teaming with the Smithsonian Channel for a documentary about relocating the "world's loneliest elephant" to a new home.
The ViacomCBS cable network has begun production on the project, currently titled Cher's Elephant Airlift. The documentary will chronicle Cher's efforts, alongside wildlife veterinarians, government officials, sanctuary owners and animal aid group Four Paws International, to save an elephant named Kaavan that has spent some eight years alone in captivity. Cher's charity Free the Wild is also involved in the rescue effort.
The documentary is slated to air in 2021 on Smithsonian Channel.
"I found out about Kaavan from the people on my Twitter," said Cher. "They would not stop saying 'Cher, you have to do something, you have to fix this, you have to save him.' I thought how can I fix this? How can I save an elephant who's been shackled to a shed for 17 years and who is a thousand miles away? This is Free the Wild’s first big rescue and I am so proud. We are thrilled to partner with the Smithsonian Channel who will be helping to bring our story to the world."
Kaavan was originally sent to Pakistan in 1985, shortly after his birth, as a goodwill gift from the country of Sri Lanka. In 1990, Islamabad's Marghazar Zoo brought a female elephant named Saheli from Bangladesh to be his partner. She died in 2012, and Kaavan has lived alone ever since — an unusual and extremely difficult circumstance for an elephant, which is a social animal.
Cher launched a social media campaign in 2016 to find Kaavan a better home. The four-year campaign culminated in a May decision by Pakistan's High Court to relocate him to a sanctuary in Cambodia. The documentary will feature Cher meeting Kaavan as the team prepares the elephant for his trip to his new home more than 2,000 miles away.
Cher's Elephant Airlift comes from Nutshell TV Ltd. and Two Wise Monkeys Entertainment for Smithsonian Channel and Terra Mater Factual Studios. Mike Kemp serves as executive producer for Nutshell TV Ltd., and Phil Fairclough executive produces for Two Wise Monkeys. Sabine Holzer is executive producer for Terra Mater Factual Studios, with Tria Thalman, Charles Poe and David Royle exec producing for Smithsonian Channel.
Watch a teaser for the documentary below.