The Girl Who Ran With Leopards
This article touched a sensitive fiber in my heart because it reminds me of my childhood in the jungles of Chiapas. What a story this girl has, please allow me to introduce you to Tippi Degre, who grew up in Namibia: Running around the savannah, playing and learning with the indigenous of native tribes, riding crocodiles, sleeping with elephants, caressing snakes and befriending lion cubs. We could say her childhood was rather unique.
Her parents worked as wildlife photographers for a decade on the South of Africa, and during their time there she astonished both locals and foreigners with her ability of taming the fiercest of animals. These are moments captured by the cameras of Tippi's mother and father, and photographs which we can admire on her book Tippi: My Book of Africa.
Tippi herself testified of a deep connection with her animal friends that surpassed the uniform attention. Rather, it bespoke a deep, affectionate bond:
"I speak to them with my mind, or through my eyes, my heart or my soul, and I see that they understand and answer me."
"Her everyday life was making sure monkeys did not steal her bottle," said Tippi's mother Sylvie.
This story reminds me a bit to the one of Pocho the crocodile, another example of how a little bit of patience, a little bit of kindness and a big heart can master the most fearful of beasts.
It's been seventeen years since Tippi returned to the homeland of her parents, France. She currently lives in Paris, directing 'El Petit FICMA', the children's section of the FICMA festival. How different is Paris from the savannah of Namibia, I wonder if sometimes she closes her eyes and smells the wilderness, oh how I would long for my far away animal friends.