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For nearly a decade, Tarra had been best friends with a dog named Bella, a mutt who wandered onto the sanctuary grounds and into the heart of the gentle giant. Tarra clearly loved her little dog and Bella obviously bonded right back.
Last week, sanctuary workers found Bella's body. By all indications she'd been attacked by coyotes. Whether Tarra witnessed it, tried to intervene or was too late - no one knows. All they do know is that where they found Bella is not where she was attacked.
"When I looked around and saw there was no signs of an attack here. No blood, no tuffs of hair, nothing," said director of elephant husbandry, Steve Smith. "And Tarra, on the underside of her trunk, had blood - as if she picked up the body.
Tarra moved her?
"Tarra moved her," Smith said.
Steve's theory is Tarra carried Bella possibly a mile or more to bring her home.
Whether it really happened that way or not, no one doubts Tarra was that devoted.
"There's nothing we can do to take away her pain," said Atkinson. "The only ones who can help now are the elephants. And that is already happening."
Atkinson said the elephants are "stepping in and stepping up." He said they're spending more time with Tarra and being extra nice - making gestures like giving her a portion of their food.
Of course, anyone who's lost a dog knows you can't eat your way out of the grief - as much we might try -- but still nice to know at least Tarra's not alone in this.
It's also nice to see that compassion is much more than just human.