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.


  1. Susan says on  06/02/2012 at 2:08 pm

    great friendship story….

  2. Shawna says on  06/02/2012 at 2:09 pm

    Love this story!

  3. Lizbeth says on  06/02/2012 at 2:09 pm

    She was remarkable RIP Bella

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

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

  6. Amazing!!!!

  7. Lisa says on  06/02/2012 at 2:12 pm

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

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

  9. Wendy says on  06/02/2012 at 2:14 pm

    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

  10. Shirley says on  06/02/2012 at 2:15 pm

    So poignant!

  11. Kristine says on  06/02/2012 at 2:17 pm

    :: 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?

  12. Rebecca says on  06/02/2012 at 2:17 pm

    I cried…

  13. Renee says on  06/02/2012 at 2:18 pm

    So sad. Poor Tara. RIP Bella.

  14. Barbara says on  06/02/2012 at 2:18 pm

    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!

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

  16. What a great lesson to learn from them about caring

  17. 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 !!!

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

  19. Shelli says on  06/02/2012 at 2:23 pm

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

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

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

  22. Tina says on  06/02/2012 at 2:29 pm

    wow…animals are so much better than humans!

  23. Allyson says on  06/02/2012 at 2:30 pm

    >>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

  24. Hope says on  06/02/2012 at 2:30 pm

    Can anyone come see the Beautiful elephants? Xo

  25. April Wilson says on  06/02/2012 at 2:34 pm

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

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

  27. Marcia says on  06/02/2012 at 2:38 pm

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

  28. Jéssica says on  06/02/2012 at 2:39 pm

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

  29. Elke says on  06/02/2012 at 2:41 pm

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

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

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

  32. Laurie says on  06/02/2012 at 2:53 pm

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

  33. Jeri says on  06/02/2012 at 2:53 pm

    RIP Bella! Tara will miss you dearly.

  34. Suzi says on  06/02/2012 at 2:57 pm


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

  36. 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.

  37. Heartbraking<3

  38. Lorraine says on  06/02/2012 at 3:17 pm

    dear Bella and Tara.

  39. ;'( 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!

  40. this upset me im such a cry baby how sad

  41. Karen says on  06/02/2012 at 3:43 pm

    <3 Bella

  42. Caroline says on  06/02/2012 at 3:48 pm


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

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. Lisa says on  06/02/2012 at 4:48 pm

    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..

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

  48. Jo-Ann says on  06/02/2012 at 5:01 pm

    PLEASE read this story.

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

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

  51. Judy says on  06/02/2012 at 5:15 pm

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

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

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

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

  55. 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.

  56. 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

  57. 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…

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

  59. Erica says on  06/02/2012 at 6:49 pm


  60. Pedro says on  06/02/2012 at 6:59 pm

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

  61. Kat says on  06/02/2012 at 7:01 pm

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

  62. 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.

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

  64. Sandy says on  06/02/2012 at 7:29 pm

    ♥♥ ♥♥ This story!

  65. RIP sweet girl

  66. Awww poor babies

  67. 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.

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

  69. Tears.

  70. Sheryl says on  06/02/2012 at 11:42 pm

    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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