Tarra was born in Burma (now Myanmar) in 1974. At six months old, she was captured from the wild and brought to the United States in a wooden crate via cargo plane. Tarra was sold to a tire salesman, who put her on exhibition at his store in southern California. Soon after, Carol Buckley gained possession of Tarra and she spent the next two decades traveling, performing, and on exhibition in circuses, amusement parks, zoos, on TV, and in movies before retiring to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, founded for her in 1995.
In 2014, Buckley filed a motion seeking to remove Tarra from The Elephant Sanctuary. The Sanctuary filed a counter suit petitioning the court to recognize Tarra as a member of The Sanctuary’s family of elephants and entrust The Sanctuary with her permanent care. The motion and counter-motion were heard and a jury trial took place in August 2018, ending in a hung jury and declared a mistrial. A second jury trial took place in April 2019, ending in Buckley’s favor. The Sanctuary filed a motion for a new trial, which was granted by the trial court. On June 16, 2021, the Tennessee Court of Appeals reversed the decision to grant The Sanctuary a new trial.
“We were hopeful this trial and decision from the court of appeals would have resolved any risk of removing Tarra from her Sanctuary home and long-time companion, Sissy. We are deeply disappointed in the decision and remain fully committed to our mission of providing lifetime care to elephants retired from performance and exhibition and hope that Tarra is able to remain a member of the Sanctuary herd, as she has been for 26 years,” said Janice Zeitlin, CEO of The Elephant Sanctuary.
Now 47 years old, Tarra has lived at The Elephant Sanctuary for more than half of her life.
Located on 2,700 acres in Hohenwald, TN, The Sanctuary is the nation’s largest natural habitat refuge developed specifically for elephants retired from performance and exhibition. Founded in 1995, The Sanctuary is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and is the only elephant facility that has been dually recognized through accreditation by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and certification by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.