Friday, September 08, 2006

Blacks & Whites, Hippos & Tortoises, And I Think To Myself, Oh What A Wonderful World

A friend of mine pointed me to this site, Lafarge Eco Systems, they have a blog that relays news and anecodotes from a nature reservation, and one of their main stories is about a young hippo named Owen, and an old tortoise named Mzee.

Owen was a baby hippo, orphaned during the '05 Tsunami. They rescued him, and upon his arrival on the reserve he latched on to the 130-year-old Mzee. The subsequent relationship that developed got a lot of media coverage last year, and their story has made for a popular childrens book, and a movie deal.

These were Owen's rescue and first few days on the reserve.
In a month they became celebs.
And it seems sometime in April their relationship started getting more serious.

Like TAN, there are life lessons to be learned from Owen & Mzee. Here are five things I picked up in a quick sampling:

1. Tolerance, patience, perspective are key to a relationship surviving. In the beginning, Mzee seems crotchedy and very willing to snap and be nasty but Owen just sort of deals with it, and eventually Mzee shows his lighter side.
2. Overcoming sterotypes, odds, classification to be happy and live your life is always a good foundation for a story.
3. Hippos are territorial, and will chase and bite.
4. Hippos can almost double their weight and size in a day.
5. Friends can be replaced, at least temporarily, if they are similar in shape and size.

Their story really is remarkable, and even the most testosterone-addled of guys can appreciate this cute, adorable tale of love, friendship, and lust laziness ...

Now my friend suggested that Owen was "The Assimilated Hippo" because there are other hippos on the reserve, but he just prefers to hang with the tortoises. Now TAN is about bridging cultures etc., but I wouldn't go so far as to say I ignore my own peeps. I definitely work both sides of the room, and luckily Deadspin has provided me with visual proof, here I am (3rd pic down) with a fellow Melanin Marinesman, holding the official drink of TANs everywhere, and sending a personal message to all those who are unaccepting of hippo-tortoise-black-white-love.

Come with an open mind, or don't come at all.

So says TAN. So says Owen & Mzee.

How To Make A Tortoipotamus
[Lafarge Eco Systems]


  1. Thank you TAN, making me laugh and smile once again.

  2. Jumper Bailey9/10/2006

    The site itself is kind of addictive...I wound up going through the entire blog all the way to the beginning.

    I see problem down the road, though. Mzee is 130 years old and doesn't grow very fast. Owen is going on three and grows alot faster.

    Owen likes to rest his head on Mzee's back when they lounge (lounging is pretty much the main activity, it seems, which makes me a bit envious). But as Owen grows to a full-size hippo (with a full-size hippo head), this may become a problem, specially given Mzee's recent problems with shell-cracks. Also if they are napping (which is what they are doing most of the time), if a full-grown Owen rolls the wrong way, that would be all she wrote for Mzee.

    (And Mzee, being only 130, has about another century of life to go, so it would not be a small loss. Mzee started life as a pet of a British functionary in India during the Victorian Era. Barring any unnatural disasters, Mzee will be around long after our current era has been relegated to school classroom textbooks in a largely unfavorable light.)

    So I suspect that at some future point the two will need to be separated for Mzee's safety. This will bother Owen much more than it bothers Mzee (Mzee is, after all a tortoise and therefore not a terribly social creature, and Owen is a pup).

    And I have now just written five paragraphs (six if you count the present paragraph, but I'm not counting it) about a hippo and a tortoise on a preserve in Kenya and their future prospects, which I think stands as testament to the addictive power of this site, being that I don't personally know any hippos or tortoises.

    Check it out.

  3. Anonymous9/11/2006

    I personally could also see Owen outgrowing Mzee, but in a different sense. It seemed kind of like Mzee got a lot out of the relationship in the beginning, because he likes being a celebrity, Owen on the other hand is publicity shy, and tries to protect Mzee from people. So as Owen get older, he could begin to feel used by Mzee. But judging from the most recent picks on the site, and analying their body language, this is a long way off, and Owen is still very much in love with Mzee.

  4. Anonymous9/11/2006

    It would be very sad if there were mirrors on the compound and Owen saw how different he looks from Mzee.

  5. Every time I visit your blog you make me want to be a better man. Thank you TAN…thank you.


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