Jenny and Shirley were both at the same circus when Jenny was a calf and Shirley was in her twenty’s. They lived one winter together then were separated twenty-two years ago. It is very rare for elephants to display this kind of emotion in captivity, and it’s probably the first time such a thing has been documented on film.
Carol Buckley, Sanctuary Director, describes their reunion.
“Jenny came into the barn for the first time since Shirley’s arrival at around 7:00 p.m. There was an immediate urgency in Jenny’s behavior. She wanted to get close to Shirley who was divided by two stalls. Once Shirley was allowed into the adjacent stall the interaction between her and Jenny became quite intense. Jenny wanted to get into the stall with Shirley desperately.She became agitated, banging on the gate and trying to climb through and over.
After several minutes of touching and exploring each other, Shirley started to ROAR and I mean ROAR—Jenny joined in immediately. The interaction was dramatic, to say the least, with both elephants trying to climb in with each other and frantically touching each other through the bars. I have never experienced anything even close to this depth of emotion“.
The story from Carol continues:
“We opened the gate and let them in together….they are as one bonded physically together. One moves, and the other shows in unison. It is a miracle and joy to behold. All day yesterday (July 7) they moved side by side and when Jenny lay down, Shirley straddled her in the most obvious protective manner and shaded her body from the sun and harm. This relationship is intense and resembles that of mother and daughter. We are so blessed.
Last night, July 7th, they stayed out together—a first for Jenny. It was beautiful. Scott and I brought out their PM and AM groceries and they are as content as two peas in a pod!!! The joy in this sacred valley is almost overwhelming.“
Shirley continues to enjoy life at the Sanctuary. She and Jenny are still inseparable and the best of buddies, whether in the field or in the pond.