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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 January, 2005, 17:01 GMT
Odd couple make friends in Kenya
Mzee and Owen
Mzee and Owen have become firm friends despite the age gap
A baby hippo rescued after floods in Kenya last week has befriended a 100-year-old tortoise in Kenya.

The one-year-old hippo calf christened Owen was found alone and dehydrated by wildlife rangers near the Indian Ocean.

He was placed in an enclosure at a wildlife sanctuary in the coastal city of Mombasa and befriended a male tortoise of a similar colour.

According to a park official, they sleep together, eat together and "have

become inseparable".

"Since Owen arrived on the 27 December, the tortoise behaves like a mother to it," Haller Park tourism manager Pauline Kimoti told the BBC News website.

"The hippo follows the tortoise around and licks his face," she said.

The tortoise is named Mzee, which is Swahili for old man.

Ms Kimoti said that if the 300kg hippo continued to thrive then in the next few weeks they would allow the public to see the unlikely pair together before they are separated.

The sanctuary, which is on the site of a former cement factory, plans eventually to get the help of the Kenya Wildlife Service to place Owen with Cleo, a lonely female hippo in a separate enclosure.

This is the latest in a series of unusual bondings in the wild that have surprised and delighted zoologists in Kenya.

In 2002, a lioness at Samburu National Park adopted a succession of baby oryx.


BBC NEWS:VIDEO AND AUDIO
See how the hippo and tortoise have bonded



SEE ALSO:
The lioness and the oryx
07 Jan 02 |  Africa


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