Shirley the elephant hasn't had an easy life, but finally, things are starting to look up.
Shirley was brought over to America in the 1960s after being captured in Asia, performing in the circus, and surviving a boat fire. She continued her circus career until another elephant attacked her and broke her leg, which healed poorly. Her handlers soon realized she couldn't perform in the circus anymore, and the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo agreed to take her in.
Elephants need other elephants around them to be happy. According to Elephants in Canada, a proper social environment is critical to elephants. In fact, the organization recommends no fewer than three elephants living together. Shirley had no one except Solomon James, her primary caretaker.
Though Solomon doted on her the entire length of her stay at the zoo, he knew she needed a better life with other elephants for company.
Solomon accompanied her on a 14-hour trip to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, where she immediately (and loudly) connected with fellow elephant resident Jenny. The two pachyderms bent the bars holding them apart, trying to get to each other. Finally, the keepers removed the barrier between them. But why were these elephants so eager to get close to one another?
As it turns out, all those years ago (25 at that point), they had been in the circus together. The Elephant Sanctuary says that Jenny was brought to the circus as an infant, and Shirley likely looked after her as her surrogate mother.
Finally, 25 years later, the two were reunited.
Even more touching than Soloman's dedication to Shirley's happiness is the elephants' connection and obvious, ongoing bond. Watch the video to see both, and share it with family and friends who would appreciate this amazing story (and don't mind shedding a tear or two).