The old adage “elephants never forget…” became popular for a reason. And though the saying may sound like an exaggeration, the memory of an elephant turned out be to even better than humans. With their brain weighing an average of 5 kilograms, they have a lot of memory space for their remarkable experiences.
In the wild, an elephant’s memory is its bible – their key to better survival. Did you know that in a study conducted by the researchers of University of Saint Andrews in Scotland, female elephants displayed an impressive memory of how each member of their herd smells like?
In the study, the female elephants quickly huddled themselves in the ‘defense’ position upon smelling a urine sample from an elephant that did not belong to their herd. This impressive memory of the elephants help them recognize the members of their herd especially when they are traveling in groups.
“Imagine taking your family to a crowded department store and the Christmas sales are on,” Richard Byrne, a researcher and psychologist, explained. “What a job to keep track of where four or five family members are. These elephants are doing it with 30 traveling-mates… [they] almost certainly know every [member] in their group!”
Aside from their superior memory, elephants also display their capability to feel a wide-array of emotion. Elephants feel joy when they play games with their friends and family. They also show strong affection to one another and express their love by rushing to one another’s side in time of distress. Incidents in which elephants display signs of grief have been recorded numerous times as well.
A video of a touching reunion between two elephants who did not see each other for 22 years was aired on PBS last 2000. Yet, the heartwarming video has resurfaced once again and has become viral. The remarkable incident between the two elephants has shown the world that just like humans, they are, indeed, capable of remembering and feeling.
In the documentary, after hours of traveling, Shirley was brought to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Unbeknownst to Shirley, waiting at the sanctuary is an old friend of hers whom she did not see for more than 2 decades. When nightfall came, her old pal, Jenny, arrived at their spacious resting place and the rest was history.
The sound of trumpets and rumbling echoed in the morning and the caretakers of the sanctuary, Carol and Scott, were surprised to see the touching and eye-opening reunion between Shirley and Jenny.
The two are snuggling close to each other. And apparently, in their desperate attempt to be closer to each other through the night, they have bent and deformed the steel bars that separated them. Feeling for the two elephants, Scott pried the gate between them open so that Shirley could finally join Jenny.
As it turned out, Jenny and Shirley are two elephants who were forced and abused to perform in a circus. Jenny was brought from Asia as an infant elephant, and so Shirley became her maternal figure in the foreign place she was forced in. Seeing how the two were almost inseparable in their tearful reunion, it is safe to say that they treat each other as a family.
The heartwarming and tear-jerking video which has over 23 million of views, does not only serve as a proof that animals have an incredible ability to remember and understand feelings. It also serves as a testament of how we are very much alike with one another. Perhaps, if we will be able to identify ourselves in their situation, there will be fewer to zero incidents of animal abuse.
Watch the tearful and heartwarming reunion between Jenny and Shirley below. May their story help us realize that just like us, animals have a big heart that can be hurt, that can feel joy, that can long for, and that can feel and give love!