Jenny and Shirley used to work for Carson and Barnes Circus before going to separate zoos. They met again two decades later, and everyone who witnessed their reunion was left teary-eyed.
Whether we are humans or animals, friendship is cherished by all. Everyone hopes that we keep our best pals close to our hearts. With some friends, no matter how much time has been spent apart everything goes back to the perfect state it was in when we left each other. There is no greater joy in meeting a friend decades later and finding that nothing has really changed. For humans, it is easier to traverse the distance thanks to technology, but what can animals who long for former friends really do but wait for human intervention?
One such beautiful and heartwarming moment of friendship was captured at the turn of the century. Two former circus elephants, Shirley and Jenny, who had been separated, finally met 22 years later, according to Inspirestory, and the joy on their faces was palpable. They were reunited in their forever home at an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee. Their trainers had imagined they would be very happy to see each other and boy, were they right!
In that emotional moment, the elephants not only recognize each other but wrap their trunks around each other's and give their version of a hug. The trainers were brought to tears when they saw how happy the two elephants were.
Jenny was a youngster and Shirley was much older when they performed together at the Carson and Barnes Circus, according to Onegreenplanet. They were taken to two separate zoos after they were rescued from the circus. In 1999, Shirley was taken to The Elephant Sanctuary by her handler since she had become crippled. When she entered the barn, she recognized another elephant, Tara - a friend from long ago - and caressed her in greeting. Later Jenny was also brought there after being attacked by a bull elephant but hadn't been to the barn where Shirley was. When they finally met, both of them roared and greeted with a great deal of emotion.
“This relationship is intense and resembles that of mother and daughter. We are so blessed,” executive director of the Sanctuary Carol Buckley told Daily Mail.
They would often be found together walking about and the older elephant would shelter the younger one from the sun. But their sweet time came to an end in 2006.
“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… Then Jenny stood up but she had to lean on Shirley to keep up. If you looked at Shirley’s face, you could see she knew that Jenny was dying. Jenny dropped to the ground and Shirley walked into the woods," Buckley told PBS.
“After Shirley left, Jenny started to make this rumbling noise. With each exhalation, she would rumble. It was almost like singing. As Jenny did this, Bunny and Tara (two sanctuary elephants) came running over. We thought that was it and she was going to die. And then Bunny and Tara started trumpeting and rumbling. At a certain point, I turned to Scott (Director of the Elephant Sanctuary) and I asked him how long this was going on. He said 58 minutes! Well, she continued for another two hours. Jenny lived through the night and was even perky and silly. She passed in the morning. And when she died, she did a vocalization that I had never heard. It was like a trumpet. It was very low and got quieter and quieter. She passed very peacefully without straining or exerting herself. To experience this ritual was amazing. I had never seen anything like it," she said.
Their bond was so strong that Shirley did not eat for two days. She took Jenny's passing really hard since she was like a mother for her. But recovered eventually and celebrated her 70th birthday in July 2018, which makes her the third oldest elephant in North America.
You can watch the moment they were reunited here: