February 14, 2013

Happy Birthday, Tarra!

Every Valentine’s Day, we celebrate the birthday of Tarra – our founding elephant. We observe the arrival anniversaries of all of the Girls, but rarely the birthdays. All of the Girls were wild caught, so we are fortunate to even know the years they were born. Tarra, as the Sanctuary’s first elephant and its inspiration, gets special birthday recognition every year. Tarra is 39 today, and we look forward to sharing many more wonderful birthdays with her.

It has been well over a year since Tarra lost her friend – the little white stray dog named Bella. Bella’s loss was mourned by the global Sanctuary community, and Tarra received the well-wishes and messages of sympathy from all around the globe. In this tragedy, Tarra has taught us all an important lesson: life goes on. In the days and months after Bella’s death, Tarra sought solace in her sisters. Shirley, especially, seemed to really reach out to Tarra to offer her friendship, and Tarra and Shirley are now quite close.

 Tarra and Shirley
Tarra and Shirley

Tarra is a friend to all, freely giving her love and affection to reassure and comfort her Sisters.

This from Caregiver Laurie: "Tarra came over to visit Misty and Dulary the other day. After Sissy and Winkie had wandered off for their afternoon nap, I saw Tarra standing behind the barn looking into South Yard. We had just finished training and treatments with Misty and Dulary and so they were about to come out of the barn. We opened the back gate for Tarra before Misty and Dulary came out and Tarra scooted over, excited to greet her friends. Misty and Dulary came out of the barn at a normal pace until Misty saw who was waiting to see her. BIG eyes, BIG smile, tail curved out to the side and with a trumpet, she RAN to see Tarra!  This alerted Dulary to something exciting, and they all had a happy reunion. All three made their way out to Delhi's yard to enjoy hay and sunshine. Tarra led the way, picking up as many flakes of hay as possible, a whole one in her mouth and carrying another two in her trunk as she made her way over to another pile where they all settled in and grazed in the sun. Another great day in Sanctuary :)"

Of course, you can never replace a lost loved one. Tarra knows this, too, but she also seems to realize that the world is full of potential new friends, and you never know when you might make a connection. The following scene, recounted by Caregiver Kayleigh, took place during a recent night feeding: "Virgil (one of our sanctuary dogs) was assisting me and [Caregiver] Cody with giving Tarra some hay and treats. Tarra started making her dog bark vocalization and kept reaching her trunk out at Virgil with her ears happily flapping. Virgil was busy picking up the scraps of apple on the ground when Tarra started stroking Virgil’s tail with her trunk. Virgil didn’t seem to mind at all. He just kept eating the apple scraps. She was so excited with big wide eyes and flapping ears while she was petting his tail. Sissy was in the stall next to her and must have fed off Tarra’s energy because she started flapping her ears and making her happy “pop-pop-pop” noise with her trunk. That was definitely a night I will never forget."

Tarra received a special Valentine themed birthday present from her caregivers – a bucket full of apples, strawberries, and watermelons. Watch Tarra bobbing for her presents here.

We have some very special birthdays to add to the calendar this year. We will be celebrating the milestone birthdays for Tange (40 in March), Dulary (50 in May), Shirley (65 in July), and Billie (60 in October) with birthday parties at the Elephant Sanctuary Welcome Center in Hohenwald, TN.

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