Owen (R), a baby hippo that survived the Tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast, snuggles close to its new best friend, Mzee, a giant century old tortoise in an animal facility in Mombasa, January 2005.(AFP/File/Peter Greste)
NAIROBI (AFP) - An unlikely friendship between a baby hippo that survived last year's tsunami and century-old tortoise on Kenya's Indian Ocean coast is to be chronicled in an children's book to mark the first anniversary of the disaster, a US publisher said.
"Owen and Mzee: the True Story of a Remarkable Friendship" billed as a "story of hope and resilience" is to be released in March by New York-based Scholastic, the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books, the firm said in a statement received here.
The book will tale the tale of Owen, a young hippopotamus orphaned by the December 26 tsunami, his subsequent rescue near the Kenyan port of Mombasa and his ensuing relationship at a wildlife sanctuary there with Mzee, a 130-year-old giant Aldabran tortoise, it said.
"'Owen and Mzee' embodies the global unity that emerged in a time of tragedy," it said. "The world was wrought by a string of natural disasters that has traumatized so many children directly and indirectly."
News of Owen and Mzee's friendship made headlines around the world in January as rescue and recovery efforts were in full swing to help the survivors of the tsunami that killed more than 220,000 people around the Indian Ocean.
At the time, Paula Kahumbu, who runs Mombasa's Lafarge Park where Owen and Mzee live and is one of the co-authors of the book, said Mzee had adopted Owen who had been "traumatized" when tsunami waves hit the Kenyan coast and swept him from a river into the ocean.
Rescued by wildlife rangers, Owen chose Mzee as a surrogate mother and in the year that has followed the bond between the two has grown, she said.
"Now they are inseparable," Kahmubu was quoted by Scholastic as saying. "They swim, eat and play together."