Dig Your Own Grave

Tortoise Adopts Baby Hippo



NAIROBI (AFP) – A baby hippopotamus that survived the tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong bond with a giant male century-old tortoise, in an animal facility in the port city of Mombassa, officials said.

The hippopotamus, nicknamed “Owen”, and weighing about 300 kilograms (650 pounds), was swept down Sabaki River into the Indian Ocean then forced back to shore when tsunami waves struck the Kenyan coast on December 26, before wildlife rangers rescued him.

“It is incredible! A less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a ‘mother’,” ecologist Paula Kahumbu, who is in charge of Lafarge Park, told AFP.

“After it was swept away and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatized. It had to look for something to be a surrogate mother. Fortunately, it landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond. They swim, eat and sleep together,” the ecologist added. “The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it follows its mother. If somebody approaches the tortoise, the hippo becomes aggressive, as if protecting its biological mother,” Kahumbu added.

“The hippo is a young baby, he was left at a very tender age and by nature, hippos are social animals that like to stay with their mothers for four years,” he explained.

Scholastic Press has just announced it is releasing a book about the real life story of Owen and Mzee:

The True Story Of A Remarkable Friendship (Owen and Mzee)

If you’re interested, you can buy it here.
















UPDATE: It’s been a year since Owen and Mzee met. Check out our new article with lots more pictures!

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