I received this news in my mail today from the Tennessee Elephant Sanctuary. It's a very sad day for all of us....
We Say Goodbye to Bella, Tarra's Little Dog
My dear friends,
I write to you with very sad news. Tarra's little dog Bella has died. We found her body on Wednesday and have been dealing with the aftermath ever since, trying to work out what happened while we look after Tarra and each other.
We noticed Bella was not with Tarra at breakfast on Tuesday and later that morning she still had not appeared. Tarra and Bella have always spent short periods apart as one goes off exploring briefly on their own, but this longer absence worried us deeply and a search of the property was started which continued into the next day. The search ended tragically when Bella's body was found close to the Asia barn that had long been home to Tarra, her five sisters and Bella. During the time of the search our usually social Tarra chose to remain alone, watched over by concerned Caregivers.
Dr. Scott, our vet of sixteen years, examined Bella for the last time and, with advice from the experts from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, determined the probable cause of death was an attack by animals, most likely coyotes. We have sent off samples to see whether there were any other contributory causes.
Having carefully examined Bella's wounds and the place where she was found, we concluded that Bella had not been attacked near where she was found and neither could she have walked there.
As these investigations were taking place observant Caregivers, even more watchful of Tarra than usual, noticed blood on the underside of her trunk, evidence that pointed us in the direction of what likely happened that fateful night.
The most probable scenario is that during the night Bella strayed from Tarra briefly and was set upon. Tarra arrived too late to save her but was able to stop further damage being done to Bella's body. With deep sadness and deeper wonder we come to comprehend what likely happened next—that Tarra picked Bella up and carried her home.
Further evidence in support of our belief for what happened comes from Tarra herself. After Bella had been found, Caregivers ensured Tarra had every chance to inspect Bella's body before it was buried and to come to terms with her death, as this is an important part of the grieving process for elephants. But Tarra was not interested in either Bella or the group of Caregivers who would normally have drawn our inquisitive Girl to see what was happening.
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.
We are very concerned for Tarra and the grief she must feel at the loss of Bella. Caregivers are carefully monitoring her during her time of mourning. She still has a healthy appetite, and we are sure she will lean on the support of her elephant sisters, especially Shirley, during this difficult time.
She appears to be doing remarkably well under the circumstances, and we will, of course, keep you informed through updates in the Asian Ele-Diary and in Ele-Notes.
We invite you to visit Bella’s Tribute page, where we’ve shared some memories of the time she spent with us at The Sanctuary, and also read the press release that was just issued.
“Bella, you will live on forever in our hearts. Don't worry, we will continue to look after Tarra, just as you looked after each other.” The Elephant Sanctuary Staff
Memories like these make us smile through our sadness….
Tarra and Bella in the Snow
Tarra and Bella Summertime