Tuesday, Apr. 19, 2011

The Hippo and the Tortoise

(Next Video: The Orangutan and the Hound Dog.)

Neither the distance between them on a taxonomic chart, nor a potentially eye-raising age difference, mattered to Owen and Mzee. The baby hippo and the 130-year-old tortoise became close friends when Owen, orphaned after the 2004 tsunami, was taken to Haller Park, an animal sanctuary in Mombasa, Kenya, that was already home to Mzee ("Old Man" in Swahili). They've spawned children's books, a website and a blog, as well as YouTube animations. Eventually, the growing Owen was introduced to Cleo — another hippopotamus. When, according to a 2007 blog post, Cleo hurt another tortoise, the two pals were separated. Many fans were disappointed. As "3rd grade speech boys" commented on the blog, "We wish Cleo would be nice and they could all live together and create a new generation of hippos and turtles."