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Tarra the elephant leaves Hohenwald sanctuary following lengthy legal battle

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Posted at 6:17 PM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 19:31:03-05

HOHENWALD, Tenn. (WTVF) — The legal battle over custody of Tennessee's most famous elephant is over and Tarra is leaving the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald.

She'll be moved to Georgia

It was a long, sometimes messy legal battle over Tarra — a beloved Asian elephant.

Now after living nearly half her life in Tennessee, she is reunited with the woman who raised her for years.

The elephant was to be loaded onto a truck for transport from the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald to southern Georgia.

Tarra is the most well-known elephant at the sanctuary and not just because she's lived there for the past quarter-century.

You may remember the story from a decade ago of Tarra and her loyal K-9 companion — the late Bella.

Tarra was the first elephant at the sanctuary, brought there by founder Carol Buckley.

After several years, Buckley was ousted. She claims she never surrendered Tarra and sued the Sanctuary for custody.

Buckley won in court.

"It was somewhat of a relief because it was such a long time for justice to be served," Buckley said.

The Sanctuary did appeal. But the legal challenges ended when the Tennessee Supreme Court this month declined to hear the case.

Buckley has not seen Tarra for more than five years, wanting out the appeals.

Now the two are back together.

Buckley considers Tarra family, having bought her back in 1974 as a baby from a business using the elephant as a promotion to sell tires.

Now the two are headed for Buckley's Elephant Refuge North America in southern Georgia, just a few miles north of Tallahassee Florida.

There are critics who say Buckley should not be moving Tarra from her home of nearly three decades.

Buckley says they belong together and Tarra will be well-cared for at the new 850 acre home in Georgia.

Tarra is 47 years old now.

Buckley says Asian elephants can live more than 70 years.