Tuesday, July 19, 2005

NPR : A Hippo and Tortoise Tale

this will warm your heart!

NPR : A Hippo and Tortoise Tale: "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.

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