Very sad news from The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. The little dog who became the treasured companion of the sanctuary’s first elephant, Tarra, has died.
As soon as sanctuary staff discovered that Bella was missing on Tuesday morning, they began a search. Her body was found on Wednesday.
Evidence indicates that Bella was attacked by coyotes and that Tarra found Bella during or after the attack and carried her body back to the barn she shares with Bella and five elephants.
The sanctuary expected Tarra to visit Bella, as grieving elephants pay great attention to the bodies of their dead, but to their surprise Tarra stayed away.
"I am convinced Tarra experienced the death of her friend that fateful night, brought her home and said her goodbyes,” said sanctuary CEO Rob Atkinson. “Tarra was a true friend to the end, and Tarra’s sisters and Caregivers will continue to take care of her, as she and Bella did each other.”
The story of the unlikely friendship was featured in 2009 on the CBS Evening News, bringing them worldwide recognition. Their story was later shared on numerous other media outlets, including Oprah and People Magazine.
The Sanctuary has established The Bella Fund to honor Bella’s life at The Sanctuary and her friendship with Tarra.
Donations to The Bella Fund will be used to support both the ongoing care of the elephants as well as the care of strays, like Bella, who wander into Hohenwald seeking sanctuary and friendship. A portion of the proceeds will be used to support efforts of local humane associations and their efforts to care for strays in need of a permanent home.