What do a 130-year old tortoise and a one-year old hippo have in common? Absolutely nothing - just a great friendship ! Welcome to the amazing story of Mzee and Owen, two animals that met on the shores of Kenya in a small town called Mombasa.
It all started in December 2004, when the big Tsunami hit the coast of Indonesia. While the East African coast did not suffer a full-fledged Tsunami, it was hit by humungous Tsunami-like waves in what is usually a calm Indian Ocean. Fortunately, the violent seas did not take a big toll on human life in this area, but they did wash away a family of hippopotamus off the coast of Malindi (two hours north of Mombasa). The only survivor of this family was a one-year old hippo who was seen stranded on a reef. Hundreds of people joined in the rescue effort to bring the hippo safely back to shore.
A company called Lafarge Ecosystems, who runs an animal sanctuary in Mombasa, agreed to take the hippo under their wing. The hippo, now called Owen, in honor of the volunteer who finally managed to bring him in, was exhausted and extremely frightened with all the commotion caused during the rescue attempt.
As soon as he reached the sanctuary in Mombasa, he rushed and hid behind a 130 year-old tortoise called Mzee, which means old in Swahili, the local language of Kenya. Mzee, who just happened to be in the area, was a little surprised initially, but recognized the signs of friendship and responded immediately.
Since then, the two have been inseparable and are often seen spending their days together in the pond, feeding and looking after each other. Now that Owen is older, he has been moved to a bigger pond so that he can socialize with other hippos, but that has not put a dent in this everlasting friendship.
The saga of Owen and Mzee's friendship has become so famous worldwide, that it was weaved into a great kids book called "Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship" and they also have a special website http://www.owenandmzee.com , with fun activities and information for kids. Happy Valentine's Day
Also, a big thanks to 2nd grader Ellie, a regular DOGONews reader who recommended this beautiful story.