why, hello there...
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Have you all heard this story? It's been reported on NPR and international news agencies, but today is the first I've ever heard of it-- It's the story of a baby hippo named Owen that was rescued from the Indian Ocean in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, and bonded with Mzee, a 130 year old huge tortoise at a sanctuary in Africa! It is wonderful. You'll love it! Here is link to the story, which is a little document from NPR that was made for the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival. Here is the intro and a few photos from that story:
December 26th, 2004 started off as a normal, quiet day. My son Joshua and I were out for a morning walk along the beach in front of my home when suddenly the sea began to race in. Within minutes the ocean became threatening. The tide had risen well beyond the high water mark. At that instant it became apparent the Tsunami that had started nearly 4,000 miles away far across the Indian Ocean would impact us as well. In less than 12 hours the Tsunami had ﬁnally reached the coast of Africa from its point of origin in Banda Aceh.
We ran from the beach back to my house where my sister and her children were waiting for us. They were all crying having just seen on television the haunting images of the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami. Although we escaped the waves, a one year old hippopotamus 80 kilometers away was not as lucky.
Just before Christmas the unseasonably heavy rains near Malindi town washed a family of hippopotamuses down the Sabaki River and out to sea. The residents of the town tried in vain to urge the family back up the estuary. When the Tsunami hit Malindi, the sea turned angry, the sky clouded over and for a moment the hippos disappeared and were forgotten as all efforts went to rescuing the stranded ﬁshermen. The next day only one hippo could be seen. It was the baby and he was stranded on the reef. Hundreds of people came to watch the efforts to rescue the hippo. It took ropes, boats, nets and cars – though the hippo was tired he was still fast and slippery. It took a brave rugby tackle to ﬁnally
capture him, and the cheering of the crowd could be heard over a kilometer away.
Lafarge Eco Systems agreed to provide a home for the baby hippo and I rushed to Malindi to collect him. Tangled in ﬁshing ropes, angry and tired, the hippo did not seem to appreciate our rescue at all. As we left for Mombasa, the crowd unanimously agreed to name him ‘Owen’ in honor of the volunteer who tackled him to the ground. Exhausted, confused and extremely frightened, Owen immediately ran to the safety of a giant tortoise when we released him in Haller Park. Mzee, our 130 year old tortoise, just happened to be nearby and he was very surprised by Owen’s odd behavior cowering behind him as a baby hippo does to its mother.
Mzee quickly came to terms with his new friend and even returned signs of affection. The unusual relationship between this baby hippo and the ancient tortoise amazed people the
world over and has featured in most countries on television and in news papers.
Owen and Mzee continue to spend their days together in the pond, feeding and patrolling. Owen nudges Mzee to come for walks, and Mzee sometimes even follows Owen. Hundreds of people have witnessed this incredible spectacle ﬁrst hand at Haller Park which is open every day to the public. Owen will eventually be moved to a bigger pond in Haller Park were he can socialize with other hippos.
Dr. Paula Kahumbu
Chief Environmentalist, Haller Park