Meet The Real (Female) Tarzan

Animals |

The childhood of a young French woman sounds more like a newer version of Mowgli, rather than something real. Tippi Degré was born in Windhoek, Namibia, in 1990 to wildlife photographer-filmmaker parents Sylvie Robert and Alain Degre and spent the first ten years of her life in Southern Africa.

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Her brother was an elephant, her best friend a leopard and her playground was the African bush. As a “wild child”, Tippi spent her whole childhood playing with wild animals including lion cubs, a mongoose, a snake, a cheetah, baby zebra, giraffes and crocodiles. She saw nothing unusual about her company. “I don’t have friends here. Because I never see children. So the animals are my friends,” she once said.

From sitting on the back of an ostrich, lying peacefully with a young leopard or sitting on the trunk of an elephant, these amazing pictures show an unusual bond and tranquility between man and beast.

With her childish imagination and innocence, the little girl managed to befriend one of the giants of the animal kingdom, a 28-year-old elephant named Abu. Her mother said Tippi had no fear. She did not realize the difference in their sizes; the girl would just walk up to him and talk to the beast.


Despite the apparent ease and comfort with which Tippi interacted with the animals, her parents always put her safety first. "You can't just meet any of these animals and act like this with them," explains Sylvie. Of course, it sounded too good to be true, because the majority of the animals Tippi interacted with have been domesticated by the people who live in the desert regions of Southern Africa.

A documentary film on her experiences, Le Monde Selon Tippi (The World According to Tippi) was released in 1997. In 2002–03, Degré presented six wildlife and environmental TV documentaries for the Discovery Channel.

Credit to 'Tippi - Bridging the Gap to Africa'.

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