Elephant Sanctuary Honors Memory of Dog

The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn.,  is holding a ceremony to honor the memory of Bella, a stray dog who became world famous when she befriended an elephant. For eight years, Bella and Tara shared a life on the 2,700-acre sanctuary in southern Tennessee.

Bella will be memorialized today: planned are pet adoptions, a book signing and a presentation about the friendly dog and her best friend.

A remarkable odd couple that made for one of the most famous and admired animal friendships in the world, Tarra and Bella were featured in countless videos, on numerous television shows, and even appeared in a children’s book.

The dog and the 8,700 pound former performing elephant spent their days together at the 2,200-acre sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN. A co-founder of the sanctuary said that knowing Tarra and her love of Bella, it was likely the elephant would spend some time mourning the loss of her companion.

A statement released by The Elephant Sanctuary said that Bella was found earlier in October suffering from injuries that appear to have been caused by a coyote. Rob Atkinson said Bella was found near Tarra’s barn: sanctuary employees believe Bella was attacked elsewhere, and that the heartbroken elephant carried her home.

“It was only later when we had pieced together the whole picture that Tarra’s behavior at Bella’s grave made sense. Our poor, brave, loving Girl knew what had happened to her beloved Bella and, in the dark hours of the night as she carried her body home, had come to terms with her death.”

“Tarra’s sisters will help her through her sadness. Although we cannot take away Tarra’s pain immediately or the pain of all those that knew Bella, I do know Bella knew true love and true freedom. It will always be so for animals that find Sanctuary.”

Founded in 1995, The Elephant Sanctuary is the largest natural habitat for Asian and African elephants in the US.




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70 comments

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    June 2, 2012 2:08 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Susan

    great friendship story….

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    June 2, 2012 2:09 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Shawna

    Love this story!

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    June 2, 2012 2:09 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Lizbeth

    She was remarkable RIP Bella

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  • June 2, 2012 2:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Gaylene

    Rest in peace sweet Bella!! <3<3<3

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  • June 2, 2012 2:11 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Molly

    I always loved their story! May Bella RIP and heal Tara’s Heart!

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  • June 2, 2012 2:11 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Laela

    Amazing!!!!

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    June 2, 2012 2:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Lisa

    Awww rest in peace sweetest Bella.. you were a treasure… When did she pass? I have the videos of her and Tara saved..

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  • June 2, 2012 2:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Esther

    My heart goes out to Tara…I can only pray that humans could learn from this incredibly beautiful friendship of elephant and dog!!

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    June 2, 2012 2:14 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Wendy

    Do you think anyone would be smart enough to share these photos with Tara, so that she too can remember the good days? I am sure she would appreciate it x God Bless x

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    June 2, 2012 2:15 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Shirley

    So poignant!

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    June 2, 2012 2:17 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Kristine

    :: sigh :: very saddening but also sweet that they had time together. Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?

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    June 2, 2012 2:17 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Rebecca

    I cried…

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    June 2, 2012 2:18 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Renee

    So sad. Poor Tara. RIP Bella.

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    June 2, 2012 2:18 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Barbara

    Maybe a new dog will come into her life, like humans it will never fill her void but might help her grieve easier. So sad!

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  • June 2, 2012 2:20 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Owenspride

    too bad the dog was running loose and avaiable to be killed by coyotes!! Poor dog.:(

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  • June 2, 2012 2:22 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sondra

    What a great lesson to learn from them about caring

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  • June 2, 2012 2:22 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Mary Ann

    This has always been one of them stories that brought tears and it did again today as I read this. How remarkable that these two different creatures of God formed such a loving relationship. So sad, that as humans we cannot all do the same. Size, color and personality did not matter to them, but too often humans use these same reasons to push others away !!!

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  • June 2, 2012 2:22 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Karly

    Loved this story!! They were such an example of love!

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    June 2, 2012 2:23 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Shelli

    I read about their story a while back & was profoundly moved at how Bella was mourned by her friend.

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  • June 2, 2012 2:28 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Shirley

    elephants are very kind by nature..it doesn’t surprise me that she mourned her little dog friend….a very touching story

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  • June 2, 2012 2:29 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Laura

    I remember this story a while ago on CBS Sunday Morning & then the sad followup story. Love & grief affects all. Blessings.

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    June 2, 2012 2:29 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Tina

    wow…animals are so much better than humans!

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    June 2, 2012 2:30 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Allyson

    >>Mary Anne, i couldnt agree more, oh how we should learn by these amazing animals. A touching, heartfelt journey. To Tara, a gracious soul, wishing her all the best for her now. To Bella, a blessing we all were fortunate to have shared. With love and admiration. <3 X <3

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    June 2, 2012 2:30 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Hope

    Can anyone come see the Beautiful elephants? Xo

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    June 2, 2012 2:34 pmPosted 2 years ago
    April Wilson

    This is a story of ♥TRUE FRIENDSHIP♥ it makes me cry everytime I have watched them both together!

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  • June 2, 2012 2:36 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Angie

    What a heartwarming story of true friendship. Thank you for sharing it

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    June 2, 2012 2:38 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Marcia

    R.I.P. Bella. And Bless your BIG HEART Tarra. :*(

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    June 2, 2012 2:39 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Jéssica

    such a beautiful, moving story… This is true friendship indeed!!!

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    June 2, 2012 2:41 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Elke

    bella sieht aus wie meine lena :( …… hunde dürfen nicht sterben :( (

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  • June 2, 2012 2:52 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Kathy

    An awesome story! Dogs have an amazing affect on us all, human and animal. RIP Bella.

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  • June 2, 2012 2:52 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Tiffany

    now if people could view friendships in the same way…so beautiful and touching

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    June 2, 2012 2:53 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Laurie

    This was a wonderful friendship. I’m just so sorry that Bella’s life ended as it did.

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    June 2, 2012 2:53 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Jeri

    RIP Bella! Tara will miss you dearly.

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    June 2, 2012 2:57 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Suzi

    <3

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  • June 2, 2012 3:04 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Tammy

    At least they had eight free wonderful years together. Such beautiful animals. I hope to try to visit that place sometime.

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  • June 2, 2012 3:13 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Debbie

    What a sweet story!!! I’m so sorry to hear of Bella’s passing. Godspeed, Sweet Bella, and many blessings to her faithful friend, Tarra.

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  • June 2, 2012 3:14 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Tiina-Maija

    Heartbraking<3

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    June 2, 2012 3:17 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Lorraine

    dear Bella and Tara.

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  • June 2, 2012 3:31 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Rockie

    ;’( so sad to lose one of our most majestic animals. R.I.P. Bella. You never have to perform or do any thing else but rest. GBY!

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  • June 2, 2012 3:37 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Julie

    this upset me im such a cry baby how sad

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    June 2, 2012 3:43 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Karen

    <3 Bella

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    June 2, 2012 3:48 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Caroline

    Schnöff.

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  • June 2, 2012 3:52 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Guinness

    RIP Bella Blessings to Tara, hope she once again gets a friend

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  • June 2, 2012 4:02 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Ellen

    Saw their video and brought me to tears. Sorry for your loss. Her story is a great reminder of how anyone can be friends. Truly saddened by this loss.

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  • June 2, 2012 4:19 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Maryann

    Wonderful love story. Made me cry. If only humans could learn from animals. RIP sweet Bella. I feel so sorry for Tara. Hope she gets over her loss of Bella soon. <3 Animals … such amazing, loving creatures.

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    June 2, 2012 4:48 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Lisa

    I can’t stop crying because I can’t imagine how Tara is feeling.. she loved Bella so… to think of her carrying Bella home after being attacked by Coyotes is just tearing at my heart strings..

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  • June 2, 2012 4:59 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Laura

    Love Bella and Tara .. so sad when this happened, but they we’re really cool together

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    June 2, 2012 5:01 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Jo-Ann

    PLEASE read this story.

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  • June 2, 2012 5:11 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Patti

    This should have a warning label…Watch with lots of tissue handy.

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  • June 2, 2012 5:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Linda

    This was such a sweet story. I hope that they would get Tara another puppy, maybe from the shelter.

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    June 2, 2012 5:15 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Judy

    What a beautiful,compassionate story. My heart goes out to Bella in her grief. Thankyou for taking care of these beautiful animals.

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  • June 2, 2012 5:17 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Megan

    Oh my gosh…tears in my eyes :’-( lovely story, but so sad xxx

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  • June 2, 2012 5:22 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Candace

    So sad Bella had to die that way. !!!!

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  • June 2, 2012 5:33 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Rondi

    My heart goes out to Tara. Bella was her BFF and that will never change.

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  • June 2, 2012 5:36 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Darcy

    Poor Bella, what a shame she lost her life the way she did. And Tara what a dear and loving companion she was to Bella. Such a sad story.

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  • June 2, 2012 6:03 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Marsha

    what a heartwarming story of a beautiful friendship,so sad to hear about beautiful angel bella..R.I.P. SWEET BELLA,YOU WERE SO LOVED AND YOU WILL BE GREATLY MISSED

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  • June 2, 2012 6:13 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Marsha

    tara our thoughts are with sweet angel,bella will be watching over you.please keep us posted on how poor tara is doing in this time of sorrow,,we all love sweet bella and tara…please keep us updated on sweet tara…

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  • June 2, 2012 6:37 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Anonymous

    How very sad….rest in peace Bella. Someday you and Tara will be re-united at the Rainbow Bridge.

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    June 2, 2012 6:49 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Erica

    tears

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    June 2, 2012 6:59 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Pedro

    The elephant killed the dog. The dog’s injuries were a broken back. Coyotes dont cause broken backs. These owners are negligent.

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    June 2, 2012 7:01 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Kat

    We could really learn a lot from all animals, if we paid more attention!

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  • June 2, 2012 7:12 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Brenda

    I have followed this story for years, when Bella was killed it literally hurt me to my soul to hear that Tara was taking it so hard. We could learn so much from this sweet soul, if we would only open our eyes.

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  • June 2, 2012 7:15 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Doris

    Para el imbècil de Juan Carlitos, que de rey no tiene nada… h de p…

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    June 2, 2012 7:29 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sandy

    ♥♥ ♥♥ This story!

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  • June 2, 2012 7:48 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Ashlee

    RIP sweet girl

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  • June 2, 2012 7:57 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Laura

    Awww poor babies

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  • June 2, 2012 8:03 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sandra

    This is such an incredible and a sad story. This sanctuary is not far from where I live and it is a wonderful place where elephants live in peace and happiness.

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  • June 2, 2012 9:21 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Joyce

    This is so sad. I cried the whole way though the video. I feel so sorry for both of them.

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  • June 2, 2012 10:55 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Zivi

    Tears.

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    June 2, 2012 11:42 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sheryl

    This story crushed me. Cried through the whole thing. Sweet Bella and Tarra. Her true friend carried her home. We could all learn from God’s creatures. They know unconditional love at its best.

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