BY: JESSICA BEUKER
A young ferocious child lies peacefully in the trunk of an elephant. His name is Abu and he also happens to be her best friend. The child rides ostriches and plays with cheetahs, exploring the raw and untamed land. She speaks to animals as if they understand her—not a glimmer of fear in her eyes as she stares into the face of a wild beast.
This might sound like the contents of a Rudyard Kipling novel, but it’s not. Tippi Degre was a wild child, who was raised among the animals in Africa until the age of 10. While her parents worked beside her as wildlife photographers, Tippi spent her days as the real-life Mowgli—in a world where humans and animals could peacefully co-exist.
Born in Windhoek, Namibia in 1990, Tippi lived with her French Parents, wildlife photographers who travelled extensively through Africa. The three of them were alone most of the time, except for the company of many wild animals. Tippi befriended elephants, cheetahs, leopards, lions, zebras and snakes, connecting with them as though they were human.
“Tippi always said that everybody was gifted and this was her gift,” said her mother Sylvie to the Telegraph. “She was in the mindset of these animals. She believed the animals were her size and her friends. She was using her imagination to live in these different conditions.”
Today Tippi lives in Paris, but continues to share her love of animals. In 2003 she presented a six-part wildlife and environmental documentary series for the Discovery Channel. She continues to work in wildlife preservation and hopes that her stories will inspire others to invest in human-animal relationships.