Are you my mother? A true story

are-you-my-mother.jpgHave you ever read the P.D. Eastman story, Are You My Mother? It’s the classic tale of a baby bird that falls out of its nest, and wanders off in search of its mother.

Every time it encounters an animal, it thinks, “Maybe this is my mother!” Might be a dog, might be a cow, might even be a Snort:  the baby bird isn’t choosy, it just wants a Mama.

Here’s the true story of a baby hippo that did something similar. (The story has been verified by

The story concerns a baby hippo. It was washed into the Indian Ocean in 2004, when the tsunami hit the coast of Kenya. Although the hippo survived the ordeal, it became separated from its mother.

Like the baby bird in the P.D. Eastman tale, the hippo went off in search of a surrogate mother. And it was lucky enough to find a willing (if unlikely) candidate:


That’s one big tortoise! More photos and a fuller account of the story can be found at AmbivaBlog.


16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. misfit
    Feb 01, 2006 @ 09:50:00

    That is so touching!


  2. Mary P.
    Feb 01, 2006 @ 10:08:00

    I love that book, even though I’ve read it 4390000000000000001 times. I love the hippo and the tortoise story, too. The tortoise can be my role model when I’m called upon to mother one more little hippo…


  3. Q
    Feb 01, 2006 @ 10:14:00

    • Hi Misfit, glad you dropped in!

    It’s the photo that’s so compelling. I had to post on this story just because of the look of bliss on the hippos face.

    • Mary P.:
    Here’s a newsflash: I reread the Ambivablog post this morning, and learned that the tortoise — surrogate mom — is male!


  4. Heather
    Feb 01, 2006 @ 14:19:00

    Awww…thats just so cute. I never thought I’d be so touched about a hippo and a tortise…life is just interesting that way!


  5. Mrs.Aginoth
    Feb 01, 2006 @ 14:52:00

    I heard this story some time ago, when they were debating whether to split the happy couple up or not. I’m glad they didn’t, it’s obviously working well.


  6. Sadie Lou
    Feb 01, 2006 @ 15:02:00

    I love that book. My kids don’t get it like I get it. I can barely get through it without crying but the kids laugh at the bird think the tractor is it’s mother and all of that good stuff.
    Have you read The Giving Tree?


  7. snaars
    Feb 01, 2006 @ 16:29:00

    I’m with Sadie Lou, I cry sometimes when I read that story!

    Reading this about the hippo and the tortoise reminds me that I’d like to have a ginormous family with lots of adopted kids someday.

    Q, your blog rules.


  8. kimmyk
    Feb 01, 2006 @ 18:39:00

    what a sweet story…sad, but sweet. wonder where it will go if it only stays with it’s momma for 4 years?


  9. Q
    Feb 01, 2006 @ 21:39:00

    It’s striking how much “human” expression there is in the hippo’s face in that photo.

    Mrs. Aginoth:
    I know the story is a little stale, but I hadn’t heard about it until about a month ago.

    Sadie Lou:
    No, I’ve never read the Giving Tree. But I certainly agree that some children’s stories are quite powerful. Reading bedtime stories is one of the great perks of being a parent.

    Thanks for the compliment!

    Thanks for dropping in!


  10. Granny
    Feb 01, 2006 @ 23:01:00

    Hi. Mary P. sent me. I remember when that story first surfaced; possibly on Snopes.

    It’s lovely. Thanks for the reminder.


  11. Q
    Feb 02, 2006 @ 07:26:00

    You’re welcome. Thanks for leaving a footprint to let me know you were here.


  12. jen-o-rama
    Feb 02, 2006 @ 08:08:00

    Oh, that was great! This was one of my favorite books to read to my kids when they were young.

    I will show my boys that picture. They will love it!


  13. jen-o-rama
    Feb 02, 2006 @ 08:09:00

    This post has been removed by the author.


  14. jen-o-rama
    Feb 02, 2006 @ 08:11:00

    Sorry– I double posted by mistake, and then I forgot to say how marvelous it is that the tortoise is male! Doesn’t surprise me a bit– my own boys can be very paternal, and my male animals certainly can too!

    Q, my husband is a religious professor. Mary P. and I have been discussing our many points of convergence and interest…


  15. Q
    Feb 02, 2006 @ 12:28:00

    Yes, Mary P. has tipped me off to some of the parallels. I hope you’ll pop by from time to time. I try to encourage dialogue, with people representing multiple points of view. You would certainly add a unique perspective to the mix!


  16. Jack's Shack
    Feb 02, 2006 @ 15:10:00

    That is pretty cool.


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