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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From Animals In Print 11 December 2000 Issue:

Kevin's Corner


I have always wondered what happens to elephants after they get too old to work in the circuses?


Hi Sidney,

Well some of the elephants are shipped off to zoos. Others are quietly deceased and some of the lucky ones get rescued. I have one such happy ending that might interest you.

Shirley, spent most of her 52 years performing before audiences. First she worked in the circus for 25 years. After an attack by another elephant she became disabled. With one leg now shorter than the other she was no longer able to perform the difficult and unnatural circus routines. She was then purchased by a zoo for another 22 years. She was treated kindly at this zoo ( if a zoo can be considered a kind environment) and was lucky they took her as her injury could have suggested to their patrons that the zoo was negligent. The zoo I am referring to is the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo. When Shirley was 52 she was retired from public life. The zoo, having heard about the Elephant Sanctuary, contacted them and were assured that Shirley would be treated well and live out her life without risk and among her peers. After Shirley arrived at the sanctuary she was introduced to the first resident elephant, Tarra. They like each other from the start. Quote "Shirley very deliberately showed Tara the injuries she had sustained at the circus and Tarra sympathetically inspected each one. "The Animals Agenda Sept/Oct 1999

Later another elephant Jenny was allowed to enter the barn. Jenny had spent time with Shirley some 22 years previous while in the same circus. At the time Jenny was a calf. The two recognized each other immediately began desperate attempts between their two stalls to reach each other. They were both trying to climb into the others stalls and touch each other. There wasn't a dry eye among the crowd of onlookers as the gates were opened and they were reunited. From that time until present they have been together, acting as Mother and daughter. The fourth Elephant at the sanctuary, Barbara, was also receptive to Shirley and they all live their lives together, unshackled and free at Elephant Sanctuary.

I hope this was informative,


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