In December of 2004, a baby hippo was separated from its family because of a devastating tsunami. The frightened hippo was named Owen by the zookeepers that found him, but he was still frightened and alone. Thankfully, he found a buddy in the form of a 130-year old Aldabra tortoise named Mzee. Soon, the pair became inseparable as Owen followed the slow reptile wherever he went.
The tortoise accepted Owen as his own, and let him follow around, whether in water or in land. The pair forged a bond that is rare between two animals of a different species. Although they stayed together for several years, Mzee was eventually moved to another enclosure as Owen got bigger and bigger. But Owen wasn’t left alone for long. A female hippo named Cleo soon joined him as a companion in the enclosure.
The Aldabra giant tortoises are one of the largest tortoises in the world. They are among the longest living creatures on earth. There have been reports of tortoises that can reach over 200 years of age. The tortoise is also an endangered species. Hippopotamuses are born underwater and a mother hippo gives birth to one calf per year. The young are very dependent on their mothers and their pods in their first years of life.
While the friendship of Owen and Mzee was allowed when the hippo was younger, they had to be separated as Owen grew bigger as a juvenile. Juvenile hippos are very territorial and they can get aggressive as the slightest provocation.