Animal Friendship

Two weeks ago I went to Austin, Texas, for my high school reunion, and the blessing of friendship has been on my mind.  My new friends often marvel at the number of my old ones, three of whom I’ve known since nursery school.  Then there’s Tina from kindergarten, Leila from first grade, Bunny from third, Julie and Louisa from fifth – and the list grows through junior high and high school.  After so many years, I’m grateful and amazed that we’re like siblings and we all love each other.

When we get together, so much doesn’t have to be said because we know each other well.  We remember cooking together for Girl Scout badges, playing duets at piano lessons, guarding each other in basketball games.  I can’t hide much from friends who were there when my parents fought or who visited me when I languished in bed with mono.  Our connections run deep and strengthen me more and more as I grow older.

You may not know that animals can have deep ties to each other, too.  You’ll see them in this video of Shirley and Jenny, two former circus elephants, who were once captive together in a terrible life, then separated for 25 years.  At their reunion in a barn at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, they were so excited to see each other that they trumpeted all night and bent the steel bars between them to move closer together.  Set free, they strolled side-by-side in a meadow, and sloshed in a stream, and interlocked their trunks.  Anyone can see their beautiful bond.  It would be hard to deny the love between them.

As you watch them, you’ll know how I feel around my old friends – and how I hope you feel around yours.  I like thinking of special connections, no matter our species.  (You’ll see Shirley’s closeness to her human keeper, too.)  I also like remembering that all of us in the universe are made of the same stardust.  So even on an atomic level we are joined.  We’re more alike than different, and what glues us together is love.

14 Responses to “Animal Friendship”


  1. 1 Nancy Furstinger (@AnimalAuthor) May 24, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    I don’t think you’ll be surprised to learn that I wrote about these dear friends in a passage for 3rd-5th graders called “Jenny and Shirley: Pachyderm Pals.” Like my fellow animal author, I’m in my glory combining my two loves: animals and writing!

  2. 3 Suzanne H. Kerr May 23, 2012 at 6:22 AM

    Kristin, The video was truly moving. To see two such huge animals caress each others faces, lock trunks, play, and walk happily in lock-step with their bodies rubbing was breathtaking. Love wins out–always!

    A member of your herd, Suzy

  3. 5 Lisa Di Nicola and Admiral May 16, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Crying tears of joy and sadness at the same time! “I don’t know who was the first to put the chain on, but I’m glad I was the last to take it off.” Gulp. Watching them caress each other with their trunks is pure heaven. Bless these gentle beasts; these two dear friends.

  4. 7 Louisa Donoghue May 14, 2012 at 3:45 AM

    Kristin, This video is truly inspiring. Shirley and Jenny’s loving reunion after twenty-five years profoundly touched me. Thank you for sharing this and being an amazing friend. Seeing you at the reunion was truly manna. Your stardust continues to shine and I am grateful!
    Wesa

  5. 9 Gisele May 11, 2012 at 8:32 PM

    I’m still so deeply moved, dazzled and awed by the elephant video that it’s hard to respond past a huge Thank You, Kristin!!! What you say about friendship is inspiritng.

  6. 11 Linda Brandenburg May 11, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    Kristin, I’d heard of this reunion between the elephants but I’d never seen it before. It’s as moving as the reunions between people who have been apart and have longed to be together again. Of course I cried and it never helps when there is that background music to tug at my heart strings. Thanks for sharing the film and the written words of wisdom in your blog. And Happy Mother’s Day to you. We both share the bond of having our pet childrens’ love and our love for them.

    • 12 Kristin von Kreisler May 11, 2012 at 10:56 PM

      Thanks for writing, Linda. It’s hard NOT to cry when you see those wonderful elephants.

      • 13 Linda Brandenburg May 23, 2012 at 10:05 AM

        Okay, last night I finished reading Modoc and cried and cried. There are so many terribly difficult parts to read in this book and it’s based on a true story of a man and an elephant who have life long journeys and adventures together. It’s the most amazing love story. I’m not sure if you ever read this book but my most compassionate animal loving friends would love this book but must be warned of extremely harsh and upsetting events that happen in Bram and Modoc’s lives. The story is amazing though and worth the crying parts! Bram would be the world’s BEST elephant whisperer.


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