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Finding Friendship

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.