Friendship lessons from the animal kingdom

Tis Thing Called Life

Friendships can be formed under the strangest and most unusual circumstances. After all, the language of the heart is the language that every living being can understand- words are not required in the communication. When we do not judge, the heart reaches out and mutual trust is formed. Sometimes, the animal world amazes me because they display loyalty, trust, friendliness and love that is often unparalleled in the human world. Even though we are supposed to be more evolved than animals, while we have sufficient materially- shelter, food, security more than animals, in some areas, we have a lot to learn from our furry friends.

There’s a stray dog in my housing area that sometimes walk with me back home when I am walking back alone at night. Having him walking with me make me feel a bit safe and he seemed to do that at nights that looked a little eerie.

On non eerie days, he would hang out with his other furry stray friends. Pets especially dogs is very therapeutic for those who are feeling down or recovering from serious illness. That is why it is sad that these loyal beings by nature are left homeless by irresponsible owners.

Here, I want to share a heartwarming story- on the unusual friendship between a hippo and a tortoise- one devastated by the loss of his mother in the tsunami and another one who is lonely. A strong bond develop between them.


The original article below was published at Good Housekeeping magazine in October 2009. I actually wrote down the article and took a photo of the two friends because the friendship really touched my heart.

Owen was orphaned by the devastating tsunami of 2004. Swept out to sea off the coast of Kenya, stranded on a coral reef, and saved by villagers and visitors, the 600 pound, two foot high baby hippo, named after one of his rescuers, was taken to a nearby animal sanctuary. 

The staff placed him in a large, leafly enclosure with a 130 year old giant tortoise called Mzee- “wise old man” in Swahili- a grumpy loner just about the hippo’s size. Perhaps because Mzee’s domed shell reminded him of his lost mother’s shape, Owen, about a year old, toddled behind the tortoise and tried to cuddle. 

Rebuffed with hisses, he persisted. Mzee’s resistance eventually melted, and the next morning, the two were discovered snuggled side by side. Soon, they were inseparable, wallowing, foraging and napping together. Reptiles and mammals become BFFs (best friend forever).

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