Jenny and Shirley were circus elephants, chained up for 23 out of 24 hours, transported in tiny train cars and performing on demand for screaming masses. Shirley adopted Jenny, still a calf at the time, as her surrogate daughter and the two formed a very special, albeit brief bond. Shirley was soon moved away and Jenny remained a circus elephant.
Jenny’s life had remained one of stress, confinement and cruel discipline for the next 23 years. She was only considered to be good enough for the performances she gave in the big top and, when she experienced a serious leg injury, she no longer served an economically beneficial purpose for the circus. She was soon dumped at a shelter for cats and dogs, barely equipped to accommodate a full-sized elephant, and now forced to care for the medical needs of one. A committed animal rights activist contacted an elephant sanctuary and Jenny was soon transferred to their care.
Coincidentally, this was the same sanctuary to which Shirley had been taken years earlier. Her first day there was spent in isolation, but Jenny was miserable without the company of her peers, and it was decided that she should join the rest of the herd. On seeing one another, the two old friends recognised each other immediately. They trumpeted as they bumped their ample bodies together in a typical gesture of affectionate camaraderie. Right away, the two old pals were again inseparable, roaming the sanctuary side by side. They were joined by another duo, Bunny and Tarra.
Sadly, Jenny was only well for a few years before her previous injury (for which she had been ousted from the circus) caused her to become very ill. Eventually, she became too weak to cover the vast distances to which she and Shirley were accustomed. Shirley, the ultimate ‘mother’, led her to a shaded valley and lay her down on soft underbrush. As Jenny shifted uncomfortably, Shirley stayed with her day and night, even using her trunk to help her to change her position. Tarra and Bunny joined in this vigil and the four elephants trumpeted consolingly for 3 hours. They were celebrating Jenny’s amazing life, a rare performance. When the sun rose the following day, Shirley could no longer bear to watch her friend’s suffering. She left the scene to mourn the imminent death of Jenny. Bunny and Tarra remained with their ailing friend, stroking her with their trunks and trumpeting in response to her moans. That night, Jenny died and Bunny and Tarra remained with her body until day break.
Shirley’s mourning was real and evident by her appearance. Her trunk dragged along the ground, her shoulders slumped, and she was unable to open her eyes completely. She could not eat, and refused to trumpet. Bunny even went in search of her, staying with her in the hills for two days. Fortunately, Misty arrived at the sanctuary and proved to be a good influence on Shirley. Misty was fun-loving and cheerful, and Shirley found a new friend in her.
There is a book published at about this story - for more info - please click Click Here
Here is the story on PBS - Click Here
Here is Jenneys story at the Elephant Sanctuary - Click Here