Moving Photo: 2 circus elephants immediately bond after being separated for 22 years.

Via elephant journal
on Sep 13, 2011
get elephant's newsletter

2 circus elephants immediately bond after being separated for 22 years:

Shirley & Solomon James, & Jenny.

“There’ll be no more chains.”

She’s free at last:

Get ready to cry (in a happy way):

In 2000, “The Urban Elephant” brought viewers the touching story of Shirley and Jenny, two crippled elephants reunited at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee after a 22-year separation. The bonding was immediate, intense and unforgettable between the two former circus elephants. But long after the cameras were turned off, the wondrous moments would continue.



More about Jenny and Shirley from the Elephant Sanctuary’s website.

Shirley stayed in the woods until Jenny passed. She didn’t eat for two days. “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.”


Us humans really underestimate the intelligence of animals. They think, they feel, they remember, they can get bored, can have fun, can solve problems, can be sad, can be jealous, can sometimes even display aesthetic appreciation. We should really not treat them like creatures that just follow instincts blindly, it is insulting to them…

I never understood why, in the scientific world, even suggesting that other creatures have feelings and desires is “anthropomorphism”, and a big no-no. And why, whenever such a report is finally accepted into the mainstream, people treat it like some big revelation, or assume that the particular individual amimal being studied must just be “exceptional”. Alex the parrot and Koko the gorilla come to mind here.” A truly remarkable place for these wonderful creatures.

No tourists/visitors means the elephants can live their lives as elephants. They’re provided with heated barns, but many elephants choose to sleep/live outside and wander the acreage. The staff have ATVs and seek out each elephant with meals every single day.

No tourists/visitors mean they rely solely on donations (no government funding either). They send you some great stuff like t-shirts and calendars with a small-ish donation… consider it!

If you shop at, you can choose it as your charity and they will give .5% of your purchase.



Please don’t pay for experiences where you ride the elephants. The goal is to let them be as wild as possible. The only reason for anyone to ride an elephant is if (s)he has been raised to have mahouts (handlers) riding them around and directing them. Releasing these individuals would be a bad a idea.

If you want to experience and help these creatures, try Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. No, I do not work for them, I have just spent time in Thailand (my mother’s birthplace) and done enough research to conclude that they are the best organization. It’s hard work but an unforgettable experience.

Elephants do not want to be ridden or do work for humans. Here is a video displaying what is really the only way to get an elephant to submit to humans like that.


About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive.


6 Responses to “Moving Photo: 2 circus elephants immediately bond after being separated for 22 years.”

  1. elephantjournal says:

    And their good friend Bunny:

  2. Linda V. Lewis says:

    Wow! Wonderful! So moving–all the emotions from the genuine heart of sadness, tears, compassion, and joy for elephant companionship and relative freedom at last! Thank you!

  3. drlaurel says:

    I just donated. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Linda V. Lewis says:

    Gets me every time I watch. So much compassion–never too late. VCTR said, "Never Give Up, Always Let Go"–in this case the letting go is so the embrace again!

  5. Kathleen says:

    Is it ethical to view elephants at nature reserves in Africa?