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Owen & Mzee Teaching Resources

Based on #1 NY Times Best Selling Books Owen & Mzee

In December 2004, a frightened young hippo, separated from his family by a devastating tsunami, bonded with an Aldabra tortoise named Mzee. The 130 year-old tortoise accepted Owen as his own, and an inseparable bond was forged. Their story was embraced by the world as the embodiment of the global unity that emerged in a time of tragedy.

Father and daughter team Craig and Isabella Hatkoff collaborated with Dr. Paula Kahumbu, director of the Haller Park sanctuary where Owen and Mzee live, to tell the story of this great friendship in the New York Times best selling books Owen & Mzee: the True Story of a Remarkable Friendship and Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship

Through the story of Owen & Mzee students will learn about resiliency during a time of tragedy, overcoming differences, and the true meaning of friendship.

Use the resources below to teach students about Owen & Mzee with lessons and group activities that explore history, world geography, and ecosystems.

Learn about other remarkable true stories about animals who have overcome adversity.

And don't forget to watch the Winter's Tail Virtual Field Trip Webcast.


Owen & Mzee:  Book Background
Owen & Mzee: Book Background
Find out more about the books Owen & Mzee: the True Story of a Remarkable Friendship and Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship, as well as other books from the Turtle Pond Collection.
Owen & Mzee: Activities
Student Activities
Visit for additional resources and computer games.
Owen & Mzee: Video
Owen & Mzee Clips
Check out video of Owen & Mzee and learn more about their home in the Heller Park sanctuary.

Lesson Plans

Create a Tortoise Shell Class Quilt
Create a Tortoise Shell Class Quilt
Students will make a tortoise shell for Mzee and as a class will create a life sized quilt that shows major events in history and the class' history.
Very Different
Very Different
Students will discover true nature of friendship through identifying differences in others. Wrap up the activity with a writing prompt by asking students to define friendship.
Haller Park
Haller Park
Using maps, take your students on a journey to Africa to help the class learn more about the ecosystem at Haller Park and the country of Kenya. Students will be tasked with creating a 3-dimensional representation of Haller Park.
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