The tortoise and the hippo

I think it’s interesting when things happen that we struggle to explain. Regardless of your world views, religious views, or political views, this is one of those stories that defies explanation.

Heavy rains had washed a family of hippos down the river and into the ocean off the coast of Africa. Residents tried in vain to get the hippos to move back up the estuary. When the Tsunami hit, only one hippo survived: a one-year-old, stranded on the reef, who later became known as Owen.

After his rescue from the sea, Owen was taken to Lafarge Eco Systems. When he was released in Haller Park, Owen immediately ran to the safety of a 130-year-old giant tortoise named Mzee. Mzee quickly came to terms with his new friend and even returned signs of affection. And they remain close, despite the fact that Owen is rapidly growing into a thousand-pound adult hippo.

A one-year-old mammal taking comfort with a 130-year-old reptile, and both of them respond in kind. Amazing.

For the complete story, and to see more amazing photographs, download the Owen & Mzee Story.

For additional information, see the LaFarge Eco Systems blog.


  1. Thank you for this story, it is so sweet. I showed it to my husband and he smiled and said, “Aw…”

  2. Hollie The Mom July 22, 2005 at 4:57 pm

    How cool!

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