One day after a devastating tsunami sent surging waves along the coast
of Kenya on Dec. 26, 2004, villagers found a baby hippopotamus in the sea,
stranded on a sandy coral reef without his mother.
Hundreds of villagers worked together to save the hippo, who they knew
would become sick if he stayed in the salty seawater too long.
Two feet tall and 600 pounds, the baby hippopotamus was secured in nets
and named \"Owen\" after a rescuer. He was hoisted into the back of a pickup
truck and taken to Haller Park, an animal sanctuary about 50 miles away in
the city of Mombasa.
Once at Haller Park, Owen was placed in an enclosure with a 130-year-old
tortoise called Mzee — the oldest resident in the park. That night,
Owen snuggled up against Mzee. As the days passed, the unlikely pair became
friends; soon they were inseparable. They slept together, and Mzee showed
Owen what to eat. They learned to trust one another.
Their story of friendship gained international attention. People were
surprised that a mammal, such as Owen, and a reptile, such as Mzee, could
form such a strong bond.