Monday, May 30, 2005

Elephant Reunion

I am a sucker for a good animal story. This one brought tears to my eyes at work. What a wimp!

Particularly this part:

National Geographic was at the sanctuary to film the arrival of Shirley, a 52-year-old Asian elephant that had been living alone in a Monroe, La., zoo for 22 years.

The TV crew had left for the day when Jenny, a 30-year-old gimpy with arthritis, wandered into the barn from a day outdoors. Seeing Shirley in a barn stall, Jenny began wailing with such passion that Blais grabbed his own video recorder.

"Jenny knew right away who Shirley was and was wailing and screaming," Buckley said. "Shirley wasn't quite sure how to take the attention; then all of a sudden we saw her eyes got big, like there was a jolt of recognition as she remembered who Jenny was."

Buckley knew that in 1976, the two elephants had briefly been owned by the same circus. It turned out Shirley, an adult, had been housed with younger elephants while recovering from a broken leg. Jenny, then 7, was in that group and immediately solicited mothering from Shirley. They were together only a few weeks before each was leased to a different circus.

As the reunited elephants bellowed 23 years later, keepers put them in adjoining stalls. They tenderly entwined their trunks between the bars. The next day, released into the outdoors, they were inseparable. When they weren't using their trunks to caress each other, they were raising them to trumpet their joy.

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