There is something about an elephant that is so human to me. Maybe it’s the eyes. They seem to hold so much pain. I’ve only seen them at a circus or zoo and their slow, deliberate movements just seems so forced and exhausted. There’s a lot to dislike about circuses. Recently, a friend of mine posted the story of Shirley and Jenny on her Facebook page. The story was filmed back in 1999 as a former circus performer, Shirley, a 52 year-old Asian elephant was offered to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Shirley’s life had been horrific. According to the sanctuary’s website, “Her back right leg was broken thirty years ago when she was attacked by a fellow circus elephant. She is missing a large section of her right ear as result of a fire which not only injured her ear but also left several scars on her back, side and feet.”
Even more heartbreaking, poor medical care affected her right hind leg and, yet she was still expected to perform. When the injury became so serious, she was eventually sent to live at a small zoo, with room for only one elephant. It must have been an excruciating existence. since female elephants live in a tight-knit group of about a dozen. They take care of one another. The zoo finally decided to move Shirley to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, a place that also houses a fellow circus performer – Jenny. Jenny was only 27 in 1999. She was an infant when Shirley first met cared for her at the circus. Would Shirley and Jenny remember one another?