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When Rudyard Kipling created the character of Mowgli, an orphaned boy who was adopted and raised by wolves in the forests of India, he would have never guessed that one day there would be a child that would actually live a similar life. Meet Tippi Benjamine Okanti Degre, a French girl who spent the first ten years of her life in the jungles except in her case, it involved only the fun adventures and none of the hardship that Kipling's young protagonist faced.
Born in Windhoek, Namibia in 1990, to Sylvie Robert and Alain Degre, both wildlife photographers, Tippi was exposed to the wild residents of the African jungles since the day she was born. Her parents traveled extensively through the country in search of exotic animals and the trio often ended up sleeping in a tent in the middle of the jungles. It was therefore no wonder, that the little girl had very little fear of animals.
However, unlike Mowgli, Tippi's parents were always around to protect her and the only wild animals that she interacted with, were the orphaned wildlife that had been reared by humans in national parks. Having said that, these animals were still wild and little Tippi did have a few close encounters like when an ape tried to steal her milk bottle or when a Meerakat thought her nose looked good enough to eat and took a couple of nips. The most serious one that her mum can recall is when Cindy a baboon, became a little jealous of Tippi's thick hair and decided to pull out a handful.
But overall, the young girl who many locals believed had a special connection with animals, led a rather magical life - She spent her days riding on ostriches, hanging out with (tamed) leopards and making friends with the mighty elephants. In fact, her best pal happened to be Abu, a ginormous African elephant. Not only that, she also got to meet and spend time with many of the local bushmen who adored the free-spirited girl.
While her magical life ended when she turned ten and her parents decided to move back to Paris, her memories remain intact and were recently chronicled in a book called Tippi, My Book of Africa, which not surprisingly, has become a huge hit amongst animal fans. We wonder if the now 23-year-old who is studying cinema in Paris, will some day decide to follow her parents' example and take her kids back to experience, what she did.
Resources: Dailymail.co.uk, Telegraph.co.uk