Watch Elephants Reunite After 20 Years: “She’s Free Now”

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Shirley and Jenny are two former circus elephants who “worked together” over 20 years ago (here’s an in-depth report on why circuses are rotten places for animals—please attend only those circuses that have all-people performers!). They were reunited at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, and PBS was there to film it. The man you see talking about Shirley was her caretaker at the Louisiana Purchase Zoo, where she had been living up after her circus time and up until she was sent to the Sanctuary.

“When I saw this place, I told her….there’ll be no more chains; she’s free now.”

If you can watch this without crying, you’ll do better than me; I started about halfway in and didn’t stop until the end! So incredibly beautiful. Elephants reunite too.

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Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.