In recent years, thanks to research, we have learned more about elephants. We have learned that they are gentle and kind animals with real emotions. They have the ability to form strong bonds and can remember other elephants and even people they haven’t seen for years.
As we learn more about these gentle giants and their social habits, we discover that the way we have kept elephants over the years can be considered very cruel. Even elephants in well-cared-for zoos cannot live a life similar to the one they live in the wild. In zoos they have no room to move and, above all, they are usually not accompanied by other elephants. They are highly social animals and having friends is important for their emotional health.
When an elephant named Shirley was injured in a circus, the Louisiana Purchase Zoo took her in. They treated her as well as they could, but she was the only elephant in the zoo. For 22 years, her best friend was her human guardian, a man named Solomon James. He spent as much time as possible with the elephant and made her feel loved.
In 2003, the zoo transferred Shirley to the Tennessee Elephant Sanctuary. For Solomon, this meant saying goodbye to his friend: ,,I’m going to miss her.” he said tearfully. ,,But when I saw this place, I told her there would be no more chains. I don’t know who put the chain on her first, but I’m glad I was the last one to take it off. She’s finally free.”
When Shirley arrives at the sanctuary, she finds Jenny, an elephant she met years ago in a circus. The two are now inseparable.