The category of emotions humans are capable of feeling are seemingly endless. From moments of happiness to nervous excitement, your capacity for complex emotions is hard to describe in words. Animals have been caught on video displaying their emotions too. There are endless clips online of wild and domestic creatures proving their ability to display different emotions. Think of the many videos you may have seen featuring a smiling dog or a playful zoo animal interacting with patrons. In 2000, PBS aired this heartfelt clip taken at a Tennessee sanctuary. The video shows two circus elephants that were reunited after being apart for two full decades. The clip has now gone viral. Viewers across the world adore the story of these two elephants, watching the cute video brings tears to the eyes.

The remarkable story of the reunion of Shirley, Tara, and Jenny is nothing short of amazing. Shirley was relocated to a Tennessee sanctuary after a long career. The rescue animal was brought in after being retrieved from a circus. Shirley was mostly kept in isolation during her circus career. She had not been in contact with any other elephants during her time there. Shirley’s journey was a long one. The trip to Tennessee took fourteen hours and went across two states. Tara was already at the barn upon Shirley’s arrival. Shirley had not seen another elephant in twenty-two years. Patrons and the press eagerly awaited the meaningful interaction. Upon meeting, the two elephants became friends right away. As Tara inched closer, Shirley embraced her with her trunk, both elephants became friends immediately. Shirley’s former caretaker Solomon was interviewed during the ordeal, and he gave his meaningful insight as to the different experiences Shirley has had. “I think she’s gonna love it, I really do,” Solomon says as he bathes his longtime friend during their last interaction. Goodbyes are always hard, especially when the bond between Shirley and Solomon was so strong.

Jenny was the very last to be brought to the barn. The keepers Carol and Scott recall loud trumpets and rumbles that were heard throughout the night and into the morning. Shirley and Jenny were so eager to meet each other, they couldn’t wait. Through shear willpower and strength, the two elephants were able to pry open the bars that separated them. The reunion between these longtime friends was even caught on video. About a quarter century ago Shirley and Jenny were part of the same circus. As Shirley is the older elephant, she became a sort of mother figure for Jenny, who arrived as an infant. The two grew close due to their bond in a captive setting. It is said that an elephant’s memory lasts a lifetime. The interactions between Shirley and the others at the sanctuary prove this to be evermore true. Beyond captivity with companions by her side, Shirley is on track to life a bountiful life free of restriction. The elephants at the sanctuary are allowed to live the life they were meant to experience, free from chains and abuse.