Elephants are one of the most social animal species on the planet. They form incredible bonds with one another, and as the following story shows, they also form amazing friendships with other species.
Tarra the elephant became best friends with Bella the dog at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee over 10 years ago. Bella wandered onto the 2700-acre sanctuary as a stray and ended up calling it home.
“Bella lived on her own as a stray in the Sanctuary area for who knows how long before she and Tarra found one another,” wrote the Elephant Sanctuary on their YouTube channel.
One day Bella met Tarra and the rest was history. The pair became inseparable. They played together, ate together and often slept in the same barn. According to the Sanctuary, Bella trusted the 8,700 pound Asian elephant so completely she let Tarra stroke her stomach with her foot and caress her with her trunk.
In 2010, Bella suffered a severe spinal chord injury, most likely from an awkward twist while running or jumping. Bella couldn’t walk or even wag her tail. The elephant was so concerned for her friend that she stood right outside the sanctuary office where Bella was recovering and waited there for three weeks!
One day, while Bella was recovering, sanctuary co-founder Scott Blais carried Bella onto the balcony so she and Tarra could see each other. Their touching reunion can be seen in the video below.
Sadly, Bella passed away in 2011. Tarra found Bella’s body and carried her to the barn where they often spent time together.
Tarra mourned Bella’s loss much like a human would and was comforted in her grief by the other elephants. Robert Atikinson, the CEO of the sanctuary, said the elephants spent more time with Tarra and were extra nice and made gestures like giving her a portion of their food.
Tarra now spends her time with her elephant friends, especially with one named Shirley, who has her own amazing story. The elephants are all retirees and rescues from circuses and zoos. The sanctuary shared on their YouTube Channel that “Tarra is doing well, she and Shirley have become much closer over the past couple of years. We often see them together on our elecams.”
Reflecting back on Tarra and Bella’s friendship they said, “A friendship between a little stray dog and an Asian elephant is certainly unusual, and we can’t say why they seemed to relate so well to one another…but they did, and their story of friendship is awe-inspiring.”
Watch their beautiful friendship in the video below and share it with your friends!