Tarra & Bella-An Unlikely Friendship

I love a good animal story and this one has to be one of the most touching animal friendship stories I’ve read. It’s a story about an elephant named Tarra, and a dog named Bella.


Tarra in her earlier life used to be a circus performer and believe it or not, was the only roller-skating elephant in the entire world. Because of her talent, she made multiple appearances in movies like Annie and even popular TV shows.

In 1995, Tarra was moved to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. It’s a place that simulates the wild, where elephants can retire. The sanctuary that started on roughly 200 acres of land has now grown to over 2,700 acres for elephants to enjoy and live in peace. You can learn more about the Elephant Sanctuary by clicking this link:


Not long after Tarra’s arrival, it was time to pair up and find a friend. Well, this is what most elephants do, but Tarra didn’t discover a buddy like the other elephants. She was the only elephant out of the group to remain solitary, until something unusual happened.

One morning, when Tarra woke up, she saw something strange. It was a dog named Bella sleeping along her side. But, when Tarra got up, so did Bella! When Tarra started walking, Bella walked right along with her. Soon, they became inseparable.

Terra and Bella’s story begins…


Terra and Bella pretty much started doing everything together. Swimming, eating, running, sleeping and playing. They even talked back and forth to each other and could understand each others language.

When it was time for Tarra to eat, Bella would bark to let the caregivers know she needed her bowl filled.

Tarra would even pet Bella with her trunk. It was such an unlikely and amazing relationship.



At one point in time, Bella had run off and injured herself. She had suffered a spinal chord injury and it was possible that she wouldn’t be able to walk again. Bella had to be taken up to the office above the elephant barn where she would remain so she could heal and be monitored.

Tarra was lost. She didn’t understand why Bella was gone and she stood there in the exact spot for days waiting for Bella’s arrival.

Tarra began to search for her and somehow knew that she was located up in the elephant barn. She came to the barn and miraculously they were both aware of each others presence and starting chatting back and forth.

Everyone knew that they needed each other. Sanctuary co-founder, Scott Blais, carried Bella down to see Tarra. They were both so excited to see each other. From that point on, during Bella’s recovery, Tarra would continuously visit on a daily basis.

As Bella healed, they began spending more and more time together. Bella didn’t make a 100% full recovery, but was able to be with Tarra and spend the rest of her life with her.

Here’s a video from CBS News with Steve Hartman:

maxresdefault (2).jpgAfter reading a book called Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends, we started doing more research.

The first thing we did was visit http://www.elephants.com, because it was mentioned in the book that there’s live video available of the Elephant Sanctuary at all times. We couldn’t wait to see the elephants.

It wasn’t long before my students were asking, “Where’s Bella?” The book was written in 2009 and being that it’s now 2017, I figured I better do some research.

After searching for Bella I found another video that explains the remaining story:

My review of Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends

maxresdefault (2).jpgTarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends by Carol Buckley is the touching story about an unlikely animal friendship between Tarra the elephant, and Bella the dog at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

The story itself is so heartwarming, but the added photographs of Tarra & Bella make it one of the best animal friendship books we’ve read.

After reading about Tarra & Bella, we headed over to www.elephants.com to take a look at the live Elecam video feed. Children can view the elephants at the Elephant Sanctuary in real time.

Even though this book came out in 2009, it’s one of our favorite children’s books in 2017.


Carol Buckley also founded a whole new organization in 2010 called Elephant Aid International (EAI). She took her work to Asia and has been freeing elephants from chains and teaching mahouts (trainer) a gentler, more respectful way of managing elephants. Then, she aquired 850 acres of land to create Elephant Refuge North America. You can read more about it by clicking the link below…


4 thoughts on “Tarra & Bella-An Unlikely Friendship

  1. Pingback: Carol Buckley’s Elephant Stories – ReadRantRock&Roll

  2. Pingback: A Q&A with author Carol Buckley – Founder of The Elephant Sanctuary & Elephant Aid International – ReadRantRock&Roll

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