You may have heard about the odd couple in Tennessee. Yes, the YouTube sensation from a few years ago that seemed to keep re-entering your inbox from everyone who knows your email address.
Bella, a stray dog and Tarra, a retired Asian elephant who live at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee became best buds. They were considered inseparable. They played together, ate together and slept together. Their level of love and trust was something to behold.
That special bond was tested when Bella suffered a spinal cord injury a couple years ago. Not able to walk, Bella was living inside the sanctuary office. Tarra stood vigil outside for three weeks. Staff finally carried Bella outside for Tarra to see. It seems the unconditional love and dedicated caring helped Bella get better.
Watch Tarra lovingly rub Bella’s belly in a CBS follow-up video. Trust like that is a rare sight to behold. Eventually Bella improved and returned to her residence with Tarra and continued to frolic among the 2,700 acres of wooded land with her BFF.
Sad news was reported on Friday by The Elephant Sanctuary. Bella is dead; the presumed victim of a coyote attack. “As soon as we realized Bella was missing on Tuesday morning, the staff launched a Sanctuary-wide search, which continued into the next day. Late Wednesday morning, Bella’s body was discovered close to the barn Tarra shares with Bella and five other elephants,” states Steve Smith, Director of Elephant Husbandry.
Robert Atkinson, CEO of The Elephant Sanctuary, wrote a heartfelt Goodbye to Bella. In it, he explains where Bella was finally found and why they believe Tarra was the one to initially find Bella and carry her back.
The extent of Bella’s wounds and the relative order at the site where she was found has the sanctuary personnel concluding Bella was moved there. This assumption was further confirmed when blood was spotted on Tarra’s trunk and her seemingly disinterested behavior. It is thought Tarra may have come across the animal attack on Bella and saved her from being completely devoured.
Staff are giving extra attention to Tarra in her time of grieving. Elephants are similar to humans in how they develop bonds with family and friends. Because of this, they mourn in much the same way, as well. A sister elephant, Shirley, seems to be especially compassionate toward Tarra.
To honor Bella, you can participate in her tribute page. Rest in Peace, little Bella. You lived your life as an example to all.
Watch a loving video of Bella and Tarra: