Saturday, 19 June 2010

The Hippo And The Tortoise

Much of life can never be explained but only witnessed.

NAIROBI (AFP) - A baby hippopotamus that survived the 26 December 2004 tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong bond with Mzee, a giant male century-old tortoise in an animal facility in the port city of Mombassa.

Rescued by wildlife rangers, the hippo, nicknamed Owen and weighing about 300 kilograms (650 pounds), was swept down the Sabaki River into the Indian Ocean and then forced back to shore when the tsunami waves struck the Kenyan coast.

"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 traumatised. 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 followed 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 and like to stay with their mothers for at least 4 years."she explained.

This is a real story that shows that our differences don't matter all that much when we need the comfort of another. We could all learn a lesson from these two creatures.

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