Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Owen and Mzee

A friend just sent me this inspiring story, and I had to pass it along. Enjoy.

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.

Owen and Mzee

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, 2004 before wildlife rangers rescued him.

Owen and Mzee

"It is incredible. A less than a year-old hippo has adopted a male tortoise (nicknamed Mzee), 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.

Owen and Mzee

"After it was swept 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.

Owen and Mzee

"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.

Owen and Mzee

Owen and Mzee

As my friend said, "This real-life story shows that our differences don't matter much when we need the comfort of another. We can all learn a lesson from these two creatures of God. Look beyond the differences and find a way to walk the path together."

I agree. If a baby hippo and a 100-year old tortoise can become best friends, then maybe we can overlook some of the differences that divide us from one another.

More information and updates on the adventures of Owen and Mzee is available on their blog.

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