These two crippled former circus elephants had not set eyes on each other in two decades, and their reunion was something very special. They say “an elephant never forgets,” and when Shirley and Jenny came face to face after all this time, it was nothing short of phenomenal.1
The reunion happened in 2000 at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, and the old buddies were so determined to embrace that they even bent the steel bars separating them.
All news reporters, cameramen, and others who were lucky enough to witness this precious moment were touched, with many reduced to tears—especially the keepers who had cared for Shirley all those years.
When these two Asian elephants first met as part of a circus act, Shirley had taken on the mother’s role for Jenny, who was quite young, before they became separated for 22 years.
With their trunks wrapped around each other, bellows of excitement could be heard. The pair spent days with their trunks often locked together, playing and no doubt reminiscing.
It is amazing how the years apart did nothing to dim their strong friendship, as can be witnessed in their reunion in the video.
The two spent almost a decade together until Jenny became ill. On Oct. 17, 2006, Jenny passed away. Carol Buckley, the executive director at the sanctuary, described how Jenny’s last moments were.
“The day before she died, Jenny had been down and she wouldn’t get up. Shirley stood by her and insisted that Jenny get up. Jenny just couldn’t get up. Then Jenny stood up but she had to lean on Shirley to keep up,” said Buckley, according to Nature.
Shirley mourned for days after Jenny’s death, refusing all food.
“It was very hard and especially hard on Shirley. Shirley’s whole life was about taking care of baby Jenny. It was like a mom losing her baby,” said Buckley.
Elephants are capable of a range of emotions just as we humans are, and all have their own individuality. The love and friendship between Jenny and Shirley is a testament to that.
This beautiful bond between these two gentle giants reminds us how precious life is, and how we must respect and care for all our fellow beings.
Watch this touching reunion video below:
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