As we all struggle to make sense of Bella’s tragic death and the trauma Tarra experienced witnessing it, peace of mind does not come easily. Losing a loved one is difficult enough without the death being violent and the witness being helpless to stop it.
Tarra has seen many dog fights. Not once did she approach the fighting; instead she rapidly recoiled, squeaking fearfully, trunk tucked under her chin, moving away from the confrontation.
It is not that Tarra would not have wanted to come to Bella’s aid, but she does not possess that intense protective nature that drives a mother to defend her young. Tarra loved Bella with every cell in her being and saw her as a playmate and friend.
We can all agree that Tarra has experienced a serious trauma. Suggesting that in three short days she has come to terms with Bella’s death is not rational. Experts the world over have documented the depth of emotional and social bonds elephants possess. They grieve their dead in ceremonial fashion for days. They return to the place of death year after year, rekindling their memories. Mothers carry their dead calf for miles, refusing to leave the body until it decays.
To recognize that elephants are sentient beings means to understand the depth of their emotions. You cannot truly know them without recognizing their highly evolved reasoning capacity. The greatest mistake that can be made is to arrogantly underestimate an elephant’s intelligence and complexity or assume that you can truly know an elephant after only a few short months. Such errors can result in mismanagement.
There was a day when the Sanctuary would rally around a traumatized individual, immediately enlisting every resource possible. In all situations, recovery support was a priority. To deny Tarra anything in her time of need is heartless.