Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Thursday, July 21, 2005

A Fable: Mzee and Owen

Not many stories in our society are as heartwarming and delightful as the one I'm about to tell you. Reading through the muck of news such as the London bombings, Karl Rove, Iraq, Darfur, and a host of other tragedies, it is hard to see goodness in our world. Its like looking for a fresh daisy in a toxic landfill out in the middle of the desert. But once in a while you come across a story that seems as though it were pulled from the library shelf in the fiction aisle or straight from the mouth of wise ole Mother Goose. Not only is this story true, its packed with meaning, but I'll figure that out.

Our main characters are a 130 year old tortoise named Mzee and an orphaned baby hippopotamus named Owen. Quite the odd couple with amazing stories, they are the best of friends. How did they end up together in Haller Park in Kenya?

Owen lived in Africa along the Sabaki River which flows into the Indian Ocean. Before the monstrous impact of the Tsunami on December 26, the Sabaki became flooded. Owen and his family were separated in the ocean right before Christmas. Even though the Sabaki is in Kenya and was 4000 miles away from the direct impact of the event in Sri Lanka, the coast of Kenya was impacted 12 hours later by the waves. Owen got stranded on a coral reef in the ocean. Villagers from all over began to help save this massive beast from his struggle. Finally, a rugby player by the name Owen tackled the hippo and helped get the 600 pound hippo to safety. Hence, the hippo was named after his courageous rescuer. Since Owen was just a baby and wouldn't be accepted into another hippo family right away, LaFarge Eco Systems agreed to provide a home for the lonely animal in Haller Park. Owen was scared, frightened, and alone tied down in the back of a pick up headed to his new environment. What awaited him was an unlikely friend found in a very old tortoise.

Mzee grew up on an island near Madagascar over 130 years ago. He made his way to Kenya in an unorthodox fashion. After being kidnapped by Aldabra pirates for food, he escaped from being eaten and traveled around the coast of Africa until he wound up in Holler Park. There he encountered a wild, fearful tortoise that sought Mzee's security and guidance. The tortoise was unsure of his new friend. Owen continued to follow Mzee around even though the shelled creature wanted nothing to do with his company. After the first night when Mzee went to sleep, he awoke with Owen snuggled up right next to him. From then on, the two were inseparable. Owen and Mzee continue to spend their days together in the pond, feeding and patrolling. Owen nudges Mzee to come for walks, and Mzee sometimes even follows Owen. The two are an odd match, but many have witnessed the amazing companionship the two have developed over the past 6 months. Dr. Paula Kahumbu, who is the general manager of LaFarge Eco Systems, even has a blog discussing the pair of animals.