What happens when you fall in love with a three-foot-tall, 700-pound infant covered with thick black hair?
Carol Buckley was a college student, studying exotic animal care, when she looked up from her homework one day to see a baby elephant walking past her house. The local tire dealer had bought the tiny elephant as a promotion gimmick for his store and was taking her for a stroll. Carol quickly volunteered to help care for and train Tarra, tried to meet the baby elephant’s emotional and social needs, and ended up buying her.
Tarra was bright, playful, and loved attention, so Carol taught her to do lots of tricks (including rollerskating and the hula), and for about twenty years they appeared at circuses, theme parks, and zoos, changing their lifestyle as Tarra’s needs changed and balancing the performing life with time at their farm.
But Carol began to dream of a place where elephants could just be elephants, where abused elephants could find a haven, and where old elephants could live out their days peacefully. She established The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, an 800-acre refuge now home to Tarra and five other elephants, with room for many more. A place just for elephants—no visitors—The Elephant Sanctuary has been featured on the award-winning PBS Nature documentary "Urban Elephants." Carol Buckley and Scott Blais were named "Heroes of the Planet" by Time Magazine for their work at The Sanctuary.