Tearful reunion: Two circus elephants hug each other after 22 years apart in an emotional moment

Tearful reunion: Two circus elephants hug each other after 22 years apart in an emotional moment

This is the incredible moment two elephants were reunited – more than 20 years after they performed in a circus together.

Shirley and Jenny were filmed meeting for the first time since the late 1970s at an animal sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee.

And the results were amazing – with the pair seen locking trunks, hugging and playing with each other.

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Reunion: This is the moment elephants Shirley (left) and Jenny met for the first time in more than 20 years

Reaching out: The mammals were filmed being reunited The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee

Wiping her eyes: They were pictured locking trunks, hugging and playing with each other. They could even be seen bending the bars between them in a bid to be as close as possible. Above, Jenny extends her trunk

Comforting each other: Carol Buckley, director of The Elephant Sanctuary, described the reunion as ‘dramatic’

They even managed to bend the metal bars between them in a bid to be as close as possible.

Carol Buckley, former director of The Elephant Sanctuary, described the moment the elephants were reunited in 1999 as ‘dramatic’.

‘There was an immediate urgency in Jenny’s behaviour. She wanted to get close to Shirley who was divided by two stalls,’ she wrote on the sanctuary’s website.

‘She became agitated, banging on the gate and trying to climb through and over.

Old friends: Shirley and Jenny had performed together with Carson and Barnes Circus during the late 1980s

‘Once Shirley was allowed into the adjacent stall the interaction between her and Jenny became quite intense.’

The elephants had performed together in various locations across Texas during their time at Carson and Barnes Circus. At the time, Shirley was in her twenties and Jenny was just a calf.

DO ELEPHANTS NEVER FORGET?

The saying that ‘elephants never forget’ may be true, according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania in 2011.

Researchers found the mammals form lasting bonds with their friends – and are able to recognise them even if they have spent a lengthy time apart.

They can also track their peers over large distances by calling out and using their sense of smell.

Study author Dr Shermin de Silva said: ‘Our work shows that they are able recognize their friends and renew these bonds even after being apart for a long time.’

Following their separation, they were sent to different zoos – and did not see each other for a staggering 22 years.

During their reunion, broadcast by PBS, the elephants can be seen touching, nestling and exploring each other.

Seconds later, the pair can be heard roaring loudly – as if expressing their emotion through touch is not enough.

‘I have never experienced anything even close to this depth of emotion,’ said Ms Buckley.

‘This relationship is intense and resembles that of mother and daughter. We are so blessed.’

Following the reunion, the elephants reportedly spent the day outside together, while constantly ‘moving side by side’.

And when Jenny lay down for a nap, Shirley even used her body to shade her younger friend from the sun.

In 2011, a study revealed that elephants are able to recognise old friends – despite spending a lengthy amount of time apart.

Back together: They were then separated and sent to different zoos – and did not see each other for 22 years

Playing: During their reunion, the pair could be seen touching, nestling, exploring each other and even roaring

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that just like humans, some elephants are social butterflies while others prefer to stick to a close-knit group of friends.

They form lasting bonds with their peers, who they are able to track over large distances by calling out and using their sense of smell.

At the time, study author Dr Shermin de Silva said: ‘Our work shows that they are able recognize their friends and renew these bonds even after being apart for a long time.’

Side by side: Following the reunion, the elephants reportedly spent the day together, ‘moving side by side’

Protective: And when Jenny lay down for a nap, Shirley even used her body to shade her from the sun (pictured)

 

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