After Shirley was relieved of her nightmarish life in the circus, she spent the next 20 years inside a Louisiana zoo, longing for the companionship of other elephants. But something amazing happened between the elephant and Solomon, her keeper, that conceived the award-winning documentary entitled The Urban Elephant.
For over two decades, Solomon was Shirley’s keeper and the elephant was trapped in a man-made world, but the two shared an incredible bond. Her daily baths became their favorite past time together.
Over time, Solomon grew to recognize and understand Shirley’s sense of loneliness. Deep down, Solomon knew that Shirley needed freedom and fellow elephant friends, despite all of the time he spent in an effort to shower her with human affection. He knew too well that the elephant was far from happy. She longed for the companionship of other elephants because all she knew was life in captivity, be it a circus or zoo.
In 2003, the zoo finally agreed to send Shirley to The Elephant Sanctuary, which provides hundreds of acres where elephants wander free or relax. Solomon traveled with Shirley to help her settle into her new home. As Solomon bathed Shirley for the last time, he broke down in tears. Despite knowing that she’d finally be happy, it was still a bittersweet good-bye.
Later on, another elephant, “Jenny”, arrived at the sanctuary and the staff was stunned by the overjoyed sound of elephants trumpeting. They later learned out that Shirley and Jenny worked together in the same circus 30 years earlier! It’s definitely a small world with Elephants!
Shirley was a like a surrogate mother to Jenny, who was just a baby at that time. Both of them celebrated their freedom as well as their reunion.
Setting a living soul free is fulfilling. The moment can be painful and heartbreaking, but it’s a sacrifice one has to make to let their animal friend be happy. We wish the best for Shirley and her newfound freedom along with Jenny.