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Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Summer Reading Pick -- Owen & Mzee
Who knew that a baby hippo and an aged tortoise could be good friends? Can't say I ever thought about such a pair until reading Owen & Mzee -- The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by 6-year-old Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Dr. Paula Kahumbu with remarkable photographs by Peter Greste. Nor did I know that adult hippos, weighing in at 8,000, are the most dangerous animals in Africa or that an Aldabra Tortoise, is the largest species of tortoise in the world and can live up to 200 years!!
When Owen, a 600 pound baby hippo, was separated from his mother during a Tsunami in December 2004, rescuers went to extraordinary lengths to save him from the deadly salty water (hippopotami live in fresh water) and transport him to Haller Park, an animal sanctuary outside of Mombasa (in Africa), home to more than 150 large animals living on 150 acres. And, it was after that dramatic rescue that the young hippo met and befriended Mzee, a 130 year old tortoise. Caretakers noted that Mzee was not a particularly friendly animal, he was a loner who initially hissed at Owen and crawled away. But in less than 24 hours, the two became friends. And, the story of their unique friendship was heard throughout the world.
For those, like me, who missed the original news reports, the book is a wonderful telling of the complete story of the rescue, the introduction of the two animals and their lasting friendship. It is also complete with information about both species, the geography of Kenya and Malindi and a description of Haller Park. An enjoyable read for friends of all ages.