Real-life African Mowgli cuddles elephants, leopards, ostriches

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London, November 13 : A little girl who was born in the wilds of Namibia in 1990 may be called the real-life Mowgli, Rudyard Kipling's young hero in The Jungle Book, as she grew up running free with the beasts.

Tippi Degre appears to be treated by elephants, leopards and ostriches as one of their own, and let her cuddle them in a video.

The video was made by her own parents, French wildlife photographers Sylvie Robert and Alain Degre, when they lived in Africa.

"My daughter was a very lucky little girl. She was born and raised almost completely in the wild," the Sun quoted Sylvie, 52, as saying.

"It was magical to be this free in nature. It was just the three of us living wild with the animals and not too many humans.

"Tippi always said that this was her gift. She was in the mindset of these animals, believing they were her size and her friends," Sylvie added.

Tippi even befriended a leopard called J and B and an elephant she named Abu.

Sylvie, whose book she produced with Alain is called Tippi: My Book Of Africa, said: "She had no fear. She did not realise she was not the same size as Abu and would look into his eyes and speak to him.

Sylvie added: "Tippi was just 18 months old when they met and it was a special time. Their friendship was incredible."

Tippi would happily toddle by a herd of elephants, and she would sit for hours with lion cubs and dance with ostriches even when she was two.

Sylvie said that she always put her child's safety first.

"Wild animals will either run away or attack you if they are frightened. You must always be on the watch. Tippi was hurt only twice. First a meerkat bit her on the nose," she said.

"Then, in 1994, she was at a water hole with a baboon called Cindy. Cindy attacked Tippi's hair and pulled out a handful out of jealousy. That was terribly painful," she added.

The family left for France in 2000, but Sylvie said: "When we returned to Africa in 2006 Cindy ran up to Tippi and played with her hair, grooming her. It was quite beautiful."

Now 18, Tippi is presently studying for a degree in cinema at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Sylvie said: "My daughter will always be African. Hers is like Mowgli's story - but Tippi's is true."

ANI

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