The Hippo and the Tortoise Who Became Friends After the Tsunami-Truth!


Summary of eRumor:

A story and pictures tell of a baby hippopotamus and a giant tortoise who linked up as friends after being displaced by the tsunami waves in Kenya, Africa.

The Truth:

This odd pairing really did happen.
According to numerous news accounts the hippo and the tortoise found each other at a wildlife refuge where they were taken after being stranded by the tsunami disaster.

According to the BBC, the hippo is about 1 year old and was found alone and dehydrated near the Indian Ocean in Kenya.
He was taken to a wildlife enclosure near Mombassa where keepers have named him Owen.
He and a 100-year-old tortoise named Mzee struck up a friendship and have been partners ever since.
Keepers say they are inseparable and that the tortoise has been mothering the baby hippo.

Updated 6/28/05

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Tsunami Survivor

NAIROBI (AFP) – A baby hippopotamus that survived the tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong bond with a giant male century-old tortoise, in an animal facility in the port city of Mombassa, officials said.

The hippopotamus, nicknamed ! Owen and weighing about 300 kilograms (650 pounds), was swept down Sabaki River into the Indian Ocean, then forced back to shore when tsunami waves struck the Kenyan coast on December 26, before wildlife rangers rescued him.

“It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a ‘mother’,” ecologist Paula Kahumbu, who is in charge of Lafarge Park, told AFP.

“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 is a young baby, he was left at a very tender! age and by nature, hippos are social animals that like to stay with t heir mothers for four years,” he explained.