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VIDEO: Elephant Tarra celebrates 50th birthday in Attapulgus, Georgia

Posted at 5:55 PM, Feb 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-14 17:55:31-05
  • Three elephants call South Georgia home, and one of them is celebrating a 50th birthday.
  • Elephant Aid International is a nonprofit that helps care for elephants around the world.
  • Watch the video to see how Tarra, the elephant, is celebrated in Attapulgus, Ga.


Elephant Aid International is thrilled to announce Tarra’s 50th Birthday on February 14th. As a child star, Tarra shared the stage with famous celebrities like Bob Hope and Carol Burnett. But her most profound accomplishment was her inspiration for the nation’s first natural habitat refuge for captive-held elephants.

At the young age of 21, Tarra was the catalyst for a long overdue shift in public opinion, becoming the first captive-held elephant to retire to a life free from exhibition. In the natural landscape of her refuge created by lifelong guardian Carol Buckley, Tarra found autonomy and the friendship of dozens of other elephants from zoos and circuses who soon joined her. Tarra’s refuge was a real success story—an example of how elephants in captivity could be valued for more than the revenue they generated performing tricks and standing on exhibit in zoo yards.

And then two decades later Tarra did it again. She influenced the creation of Elephant Refuge North America (ERNA), the second generation of elephant refuges designed to better meet the needs of aging elephants. Arthritis affects elephants. Soft sand stalls, year-round temperate weather, natural ponds, and lots of land to roam are some of the amenities ERNA utilizes to address the needs of older elephants.

The stage is a distant memory for Tarra as she roams the diverse 850 acres of elephant paradise in southernmost Georgia. There the 8-foot tall, 9,700-pound Asian elephant grazes among lush pastures and explores bamboo rich forests, stopping only long enough to dust herself with the rich Georgia soil. Hers is a life every elephant deserves.

Tarra shares her life with Bo, a calm and gentle natured 36-year-old castrated male, a celebrity in his own right, and Mundi, a feisty 41-year-old female who arrived from a dilapidated zoo last May. They both are cherished members of Tarra’s family.

The warm weather in South Georgia means Tarra and her elephant family can enjoy and explore their vast habitat year-round—a must for Tarra, who prefers to be immersed in the big outdoors. The Refuge is also canine-friendly, so once again, Tarra has the company of her favorite species—dogs!

Located in Attapulgus, Georgia, Elephant Refuge North America spans 850 acres of gently rolling hills, lush pastures, dense forests, spring-fed lakes, creeks, and streams, with a climate that allows the elephants to remain outdoors 24/7 almost all the year. It is the perfect place for elephants to regain their “elephantness” and develop loving bonds with other elephants and caregivers. To learn more about Tarra, visit this link.