The email she sent me had a few additional pictures.
A BABY hippopotamus, swept into the Indian Ocean by
the tsunami, is finally coming out of his shell thanks
to the love of a 120-year-old tortoise.
Owen, a 300kg, one-year-old hippo, was swept down the
Sabaki River, into the ocean and then back to shore
when the giant waves struck the Kenyan coast.
The dehydrated hippo was found by wildlife rangers and
taken to The Haller Park animal facility in the port
city of Mombassa. Pining for his lost
mother, Owen quickly befriended a giant male Aldabran
tortoise named Mzee- Swahili for "old man".
"When we released Owen into the enclosure, he
lumbered to the tortoise which has a dark grey color
similar to grown up hippos," Sabine Baer,
rehabilitation and ecosystems manager at the park,
told Reuters on Thursday.
Haller Park ecologist Paula Kahumbu said the pair were
now inseparable. "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.
"The hippo was left at a very tender age. Hippos are
social animals that like to stay with their mothers
for four years. "She said the hippo's chances of
survival in another herd were very slim, predicting
that a dominant male would have killed him.
Officials are hopeful Owen will befriend a female
hippo called Cleo, also a resident at the park.