ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani court on Saturday approved the relocation of an elephant to a sprawling animal sanctuary in Cambodia after animal rights activists launched a campaign saying the pachyderm that spent three decades in the Islamic nation was being mistreated at the capital's small zoo, officials said.

The decision was hailed by the World Wide Fund for Nature, which said its representative in Pakistan "has been part of the continuous efforts to address welfare issues regarding Kaavan," the 33-year-old elephant that was given to Pakistan in 1985 by Sri Lanka.

The group had proposed that the animal be moved a 25,000-acre sanctuary in Cambodia, which already houses elephants and has rehabilitated over 80 elephants so far.

Mian Aslam Amin, Pakistan's federal minister for climate change, called the ruling by the Islamabad High Court a "sad but correct decision," which he said was made for the benefit Kavan, the lone elephant at Islamabad's zoo.

He said Kaavan would be relocated, but gave no dates for it.

The elephant was well-loved by children and was treated well until recent years when it was chained. Authorities had said that was done for the safety of visitors after observing occasional aggression in the animal's mood.