Apparently, the old adage that an elephant never forgets is a well-earned anecdote. The mammals are known to be very affectionate and social creatures. In fact, they are among the most advanced mammals in existence. This allows them to form bonds with humans as well. In this particular case, the elephants Jenny and Shirley spent the best years of their lives in the circus.
Sadly, circus life for elephants involves repetitive motions. This occurs during grueling training and lengthy performances. Like anyone doing a job that involves repetitive motions, the results can be debilitating if not properly managed. In the case of Shirley, the results were literally crippling. Being unable to perform any further, she was finally retired to spend the remainder of her life at a refuge in relative ease.
It just so happens that Jenny had already been retired at the same facility. As Shirley was escorted to her cage, she approached Jenny who was in the adjacent cage. Both elephants reached out with their trunks and locked them in an affectionate embrace. While it isn’t possible to know exactly what was going on in their minds, they did react in a way that suggested they recognized one another.
Later that night, the two elephants spent time with rubbing their heads together tenderly. Jenny even gently stroked Shirley’s head with her trunk. In fact, the two elephants spent so much time in close proximity that they bent the steel bars separating them. One of the caregivers for Shirley was so moved by her reaction to Jenny that he openly wept for joy over her new found freedom.