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Amazing Life Of Mowgli Girl Growing Up With Jungle Animals

14/08/2014 16:50 | Updated 22 May 2015

Amazing life of Mowgli girl and jungle animals she grew up with

Incredible photographs of a little girl totally at one with elephants, tigers and monkeys have been released for the first time.

When she was 10-years-old Tippi Benjamine Okanti Degri earned the nickname Mowgli, just like the child who was brought up with wild animals in Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book.

Her amazing life in Africa has been captured by her mum and dad, wildlife photographers Sylvie Robert and Alain Degri, and re-produced In a book - 'Tippi: My Book of Africa'.

The photos show young Tippi sitting on the back of an ostrich, sitting with a leopard, dancing playfully with an elephant and stroking baboons.

"Her everyday life was making sure monkeys did not steal her bottle," said mum Sylvie.

"Or she would call me over and point to an elephant eating from a palm tree and say 'mummy, be quiet, we're going to frighten him'. She had so much freedom.

Amazing life of Mowgli girl and jungle animals she grew up with

"It was like having the biggest playground. We lived in a tent, completely in the wild, but she always woke up with the sun shining and her parents around her. She was very lucky.

"She was so at ease with animals. She would talk to them with her eyes and her heart."

The family's adventure started where Tippi was born in Namibia, and ended in her travelling through countries like Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Most of the animals she befriended had been orphaned and raised by farmers.

However, despite the apparent ease and comfort with which they interact, Sylvie always put Tippi's safety first.

"You can't just meet any of these animals and act like this with them," Sylvie explained.

"Wild animals will either run away or attack you if they are either frightened, injured or need to protect their young.

"But she was only ever bitten once on the nose by a Meerkat, only two bites!"

When Tippi returned to her parents' native country - France - at the age of 10, it was hard adjusting to city life in Paris.

"She missed the animals so much,' said Sylvie. "We didn't have room for a dog in our flat, so we got a budgie instead.

"It would go everywhere with her, even on the train, flying right by her side, sitting on her head or falling asleep on her shoulder. She loved that little bird so much. He was the only friend she had."

Tippi is now 23 and in her third year studying for a degree in cinema, But the memories of her time in Africa - recorded in a series of interviews and written up into the book - will forever live on through its pages.

"It is like Mowgli's story, but for Tippi it's true," her mum said.

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