Shirley and Jenny: An elephant never forgets

The work week is nearly over here, though not in the States. And, as usual, I like to end with something to palliate the stress and distress of the week. (I hope you didn’t have much.)

I don’t know anything about this video (from 2011) except that it’s gotten over 6 million hits and it’s deeply moving, showing the bond not only between these wonderful animals, but between Shirley the elephant and her former keeper, who removes her chains and tells her she’s “free at last.”

Shirley and Jenny were together for 3 years in a circus, and then were separated for 22 years, with Shirley becoming the sole elephant in another circus. After not seeing another elephant the whole time, Shirley was brought to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennesee, a refuge for old, sick ,and injured pachyderms, where she once again met her old friend. I’ll let you watch what happens next, but it’ll bring you to tears.

Trunk in trunk, they’re together for good.


  1. Grania Spingies
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Makes me weep to see such obvious affection and bonding in two animals that have been traumatized in their pasts.

    Wild animals do not belong in cages and circuses, humanity should be long past the point of seeing that it is cruel and wrong.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 25, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      It’s so awful that these elephants were isolated from other elephants. It would be like us never seeing another human (and I’m kind of a misanthrope!).

  2. c*s
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    That was beautiful. Really beautiful.

  3. Posted July 25, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Tears, but tears of happiness: like Grania stated, wild animals do not belong in cages and circuses. At least some get to live their final years in freedom.

    For me, it also debunks the curious belief humanity holds that we are the only species capable of love. Shirley and Jenny prove otherwise. Anthropomorphizing or not, that’s just how I feel.

    • Posted July 25, 2014 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think you’re anthropomorphizing at all.

    • Scientifik
      Posted July 26, 2014 at 1:57 am | Permalink

      >For me, it also debunks the curious belief humanity holds that we are the only species capable of love.

      Oh, definitely. As this article makes abundantly clear, “elephants are capable of complex thought and deep feeling. In fact, the emotional attachment elephants form toward family members may rival our own.”

      Full article:

      • Posted July 28, 2014 at 9:40 am | Permalink

        Funny how that works – social animals which feel love too. Maybe there’s a connection.

  4. Heather Hastie
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    It’s not the end of the week here, it’s Saturday morning. I cried throughout this video and I haven’t stopped yet. I’m so happy they’re happy. I’ll never forget this.

  5. NewEnglandBob
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    No words are sufficient, just emotions.

  6. Vaal
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Permalink


  7. Posted July 25, 2014 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Elephants are wonderful and extraordinary highly intelligent animals, among my favourite since childhood. Wonderful video, I saw it some time ago but it was good to see it again.

  8. Keith
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Very happy for Shirley and Jenny.

  9. Hempenstein
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Shed plenty of tears the first time I saw it some yrs back, & again now.

  10. Posted July 25, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    How horrible to take such creatures into slavery.

  11. Brendan Eales
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I followed the link to the Sanctuary. The reunion took place in 1999. Unfortunately Jenny died in 2006 but Shirley is still there. Jenny died young [under 40 yo] after a fairly awful life but at least her last 10 years were spent with friends in safety.

  12. Another Tom
    Posted July 25, 2014 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    Holy shit those elephants have scars! I remember riding an elephant at a local zoo as a child and the elephant was wonderful. So gentle with a human child that wants to pet it. That doesn’t justify locking them up for human amusement but seriously how can anyone justify such scarring of such a wonderful animal?

  13. Adam M.
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    It always makes me angry that poachers are killing them all. And the tigers and rhinos and… and for what?

  14. Ironclad
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 4:11 am | Permalink

    Timely video. I am reading the non-fiction work Elephant Company by V. Croke, chronicling the history of the use of elephants for the British teak trade in Burma and the use of elephants in WW II. The bonding of non-related females in captivity is described in the book.

    Thank you for posting the video.

  15. Diane G.
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    Profoundly moving story. What amazing creatures!

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