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RBA
01-10-2005, 06:40 PM
Tortoise adopts baby hippo
January 8, 2005




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.

http://www.news.com.au/common/imagedata/0,3600,408667,00.jpgOwen the baby hippo stares adoringly at his new mum / EPA


The dehydrated hippo was found by wildlife rangers and taken to the Haller Park animal facility in the port city of Mombasa.

Pining for his lost mother, Owen quickly befriended a giant male Aldabran tortoise named Mzee - Swahili for "old man".

Haller Park ecologist Paula Kahumbu said the pair were now inseparable.

"It is incredible. A hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a mother," Ms Kahumbu said. "The hippo follows the tortoise the way it follows its mother.

"The hippo was left at a very tender age. Hippos are social animals that like to stay with their mothers for four years." Officials are hopeful Owen will befriend a female hippo called Cleo, also a resident at the park.

The Daily Telegraph