"For most of history, Anonymous was a woman." Virginia Woolf

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Tortoise and the Hippo

Owen and Mzee's Blog

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Jason Lynx
Date: Jun 28, 2007 9:12 PM

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

NAIROBI (AFP) - A baby hippopotamus that survived the

tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong

bond with a giant male century-old tortoise in an animal

facility in the port city of Mombassa , officials said.

The hippopotamus, nicknamed Owen and weighing about

300 kilograms (650 pounds), was swept down Sabaki

River into the Indian Ocean , then forced back to shore

when tsunami waves struck the Kenyan coast on

December 26, before wildlife rangers rescued him.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

"It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a

male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to

be very happy with being a 'mother'," ecologist Paula Kahumbu,

who is in charge of Lafarge Park , told AFP.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

"After it was swept away and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatized.

It had to look for something to be a surrogate mother.

Fortunately, it landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond.

They swim, eat and sleep together," the ecologist added.

"The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it followed its mother.

If somebody approaches the tortoise, the hippo becomes aggressive,

as if protecting its biological mother," Kahumbu added.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

"The hippo is a young baby, he was left at a very tender age and

by nature, hippos are social animals that like to stay with their

mothers for four years," he explained.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

but by the moments that take our breath away."
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This is a real story that shows that our differences don't matter

much when we need the comfort of another.

We could all learn a lesson from these two creatures.

"Look beyond the differences and find a way to walk the path together."

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The strength of a unique male bond between a young hippopotamus and a 130-year-old tortoise will be tested later this spring when conservation workers introduce a female hippo to the mix.
The pending introduction serves as an intriguing plot twist to the unlikely story of a hippo and tortoise brought together at Haller Park wildlife sanctuary in Mombasa, Kenya, in the wake of the December 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami. The conservationists hope the two hippos will bond with no objection from the tortoise, named Mzee. Such an outcome will allow Mzee's return to the safety of his original enclosure.
While other tortoises, monkeys, and antelope roam in that enclosure, Mzee has shown no affection toward any of them. But he has surprisingly become attached to the young hippo, Owen.
Owen, who weighed an estimated 660 pounds (300 kilograms) when he arrived at the park, was two-thirds the size of Mzee. He is now twice Mzee's size and still growing.
"He will grow to anywhere between three and four tons—he's gonna be a big male hippopotamus," said Paula Kahumbu, the general manager of Lafarge Ecosystems, the Kenyan environmental restoration firm that manages the wildlife sanctuary.
"He's already quite playful, already quite strong," she said. "He could injure Mzee at any moment. He's very childlike in his behavior. As he gets older he will get rougher. Mzee is not a flexible animal—he could be injured."
But how Mzee and Owen will react to the presence of Cleo, the female hippo, and a subsequent separation is unknown, Kahumbu said. If one cannot live without the other, some sort of accommodations will be made.
Tsunami Friends
For now, the hippo and tortoise are best buddies. The story of their friendship, formed in the wake of the tsunami, has been helping people in the region cope with their own losses, Kahumbu said.
When the giant waves struck the coast of Kenya, Owen was wallowing with his herd in the ocean near the mouth of the Sabaki River. Too small to escape the waves with his family, he was stranded on a coral reef.
The next day residents of the village of Malindi rescued Owen with fishing nets.
But his rescuers were unable to simply reintroduce Owen to another pod of hippopotamuses, because the oldest male would see him as a threat and kill him.
Conservationists therefore decided to transport Owen to Haller Park, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) away. There the hippo immediately ran to Mzee, a 130-year-old Aldabran tortoise who resides at the Haller Park sanctuary. The park is a restored ecosystem that also serves as an orphanage for abandoned wildlife.
At first the tortoise wanted nothing to do with the hippo, but Owen persisted. Some conservationists suggest that Owen, in search of a mother figure, may have been attracted to Mzee's round shape and gray color, which resemble an adult hippo.
The first night at the sanctuary, Owen fell asleep next to Mzee. The following morning photographer Peter Greste took a picture of the pair, which was subsequently published in newspapers around the world.
Hans Klingel is a zoology professor at the University of Braunschweig in Germany and an authority on hippopotamus behavior. He said given hippos' social nature, Owen's attraction to Mzee makes sense.
"They are social animals," he said in an email. "In that sense, they join whoever is available."
In the year since the tsunami struck, the bond between hippo and tortoise has strengthened, and now the two are inseparable. They rouse each other for meals, spend hours wallowing in the pond together, and snuggle up side by side each night.
According to Haller Park staff, Owen behaves more like a tortoise than a hippo. He eats tortoise food, such as leaves and carrots, and ignores the grasses that hippos normally consume. He sleeps at night, not during the day as wild hippos do. And he doesn't respond to hippo calls.
While Owen's attraction to Mzee may be explained by a baby's need for a mother figure, tortoises are not known for affectionate or social behavior, Kahumbu said.
Nevertheless, Mzee follows Owen around, nudges him to go for walks, initiates play in the water, and even stretches his neck out so Owen can give him a lick.
There has been growing evidence of physical communication between the pair, with Owen nibbling Mzee's back feet to get him to walk in a desired direction. The two have even developed a sort of vocal communication of their own, Kahumbu said.
The vocalizations are not the honking of hippos or the grunts and hisses of tortoises, but rather a soft whimpering that emanates from one and is mimicked by the other.
"It's very high pitched; definitely not a stomach sound, as some had suggested," Kahumbu said. "They're vocalizing towards each other."
What the animals are trying to communicate is not yet understood, but researchers think it is a contact call made to get the other's attention.
Introducing Cleo
Concerned that Owen's affection for Mzee may lead to an unintended injury, Kahumbu and colleagues are constructing a new enclosure at the sanctuary for Owen and the female hippo, Cleo.
The researchers hope Owen and Cleo will bond and take to their new grounds, which will be in the public view. They are also trying to accustom Owen to the presence of humans.
The move is expected to take place this April or May. At that time Mzee will be moved with Owen to the new enclosure to help keep the young hippo calm.
Once the two hippos are comfortable with each other, Mzee will be returned to his original grounds with other tortoises.
"We hope Mzee will not be too traumatized by being separated from Owen," Kahumbu said.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Elizabeth Ann (Bess or Bessie) Carter Smith Carson (12/7/1897).

Here's what I know:

Name: Elizabeth Ann Carter, later Smith, later Carson
Born: 12/7/1897 (or 1898) [SSDI]
Died: 3/16/1967 in Michigan [SSDI]

Marriage One: James Elias Smith, approx 1918 [JES WWI draft card]

Marriage Two: Alfred Ray Carson, approx 1940 [Port Arthur News, June 1940]

1900 Census: Bess lived in Texarkana, Miller County, Arkansas. Lived with father W. Sherman Carter (b. July 1865), his mother Ann (b. Feb. 1832), siblings: Clara (Nov.? 1891), Matilda (Sept. 1892), Myrtle(?) (May 1895). Lists no mother, which makes me think that Bess' mother had died by then.

1910 Census: Bess lived in Texarkana, Miller County, Arkansas. Lived with father W. Sherman Carter, his wife Ada M., and her siblings: Clara (18?), Tillie (16), William (5), James (3), Richard (2), Kelley (sp?)(1). All of the children were born in Arkansas.
W. Sherman Carter, born approx. 1865, born in Tennessee. Father born in Virginia, Mother born in Kentucky. Contractor/brickworks. The 1880 Census puts him (or who I assume is him) puts him living in Martins Store, Weakley County, TN with his mother Ann, father William, and two sisters: Sophia/Sofia (19) and Delia (12). [Died after 1956. He is fairly light complexioned, similarly to my father (the young teenager on the left), so I assume my great-grandmother's complexion and Native American heritage come from her mother's side of the family. I could be wrong, of course.] Below are links to pictures of my great, great grandfather:

--Sometime between 1910-1920, she had lost her left arm and right leg due to blood poisoning.

1920 Census: Bess lived in Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas. Lived with James Elias Smith and their three children. According to the this census, her father was born in Kentucky and her mother born in Tennessee.

--Last child was born 1927. Husband James Elias Smith died/disappeared between 1927-1930.

1930 Census: Bess lived in El Paso, was a house servant for an Earl Barron. Shows that she is a widow. Her children stayed in the El Paso Protestant Children's Home. Her children are/were: James Everett Smith, Sr. (my grandfather), Clara Nell, Mabel Irene, Edward Charles, Annie Laurie, Wilma, and William Carter.

-1933-1940: Bess took children out of children's home and moved them to Port Arthur. Grandfather James Everett Smith joined CCC then the army.

1940-lived in Port Arthur, married Alfred Ray Carson, staff Sargent in US Army, born approximately 1912.

-lived in Port Arthur, TX for many years, then after death of A.R. Carson, moved to Michigan with son, Edward Charles.

-died 1967 in Michigan.

Notes: She was dark complexioned and my dad says that she was part Native American, but he doesn't know how much so or from what side of the family. Below are two links to pictures of my great-grandmother in 1942 with my aunt Patricia.

Questions: How did a double amputee marry a staff Sargent from a well known Port Arthur family who was 14 years younger than her? How did she meet him when she was living in Little Rock, then El Paso, neither of which are close to Port Arthur (east coast of Texas near Galveston)? Who was Bess' mother? Where was William Sherman Carter in 1870?

Posted to: Carter, Miller AR, Arkansas Genealogical Society, Arkansas Family History Association

Monday, June 4, 2007

Update as of June 4, 2007


It's almost June. Less than three months and counting until I move to

I alternate between wanting to be in Mobile-yesterday and wanting to put it off indefinitely. It's pretty much been this way since March/April.

I've met some amazing people in the last nine months, but
Birmingham seems to be a place of transition for most of them as well. My hope is that I can keep in touch with them, so when we all end up moving again (as I know I will do within the next two years), we may cross paths while we do so.

It seems impossible for me to stay still. My restlessness has only gotten worse in the last twelve months, as I'm sure I've mentioned more than once already. Because of this inclination, I think I have become a more unreliable (or less dependable) person. This may explain why I have met so many amazing people, but to some extent either I have held them or been held by them at a distance. Perhaps these people are just as restless as I am and in as much a period of transition as I am and so we are all holding the world at a distance. Maybe I only wish it is so because I hope there are other people craving and fearing emotional intimacy, as I am. I envy those who can fall back on consistency. I miss being around people who know me and who I know but we are all so scattered now.

As some of you may know, in the last month or so, I had to make an emergency family trip to
Dallas. My aunt went into a swift decline, after battling breast cancer on and off for 16 years, and passed on May 12, 2007. The sadness was tempered by a fight well fought; there is no one that could have fought harder and longer to stay with her family than my aunt did.

While I was in
Texas, I had the opportunity to visit my sister and niece. My sister, for the first time since she was 19, is now Melissa Anne Smith again. I am proud of her for reclaiming her family name, I hope it will be a source of strength and pride for her. Gods know, she needs the strength right now. My niece, Michaela, is going into the second grade this August and she is amazingly smart.

I have a few trips coming up before I move to Mobile. I just booked my flight a few minutes ago. I will be in Boston July 12-16 to visit my friends Clayton and Jamie. Jamie and I became fast friends in seventh grade P.E. because we were both too smart for our own good (or at least we thought so) and feminists to boot. Clayton and I met rather strangely in eighth grade, and maybe it's because we had such an unusual friendship in middle and high school that we have been able to keep up the way we do. It never seems to matter that we sometimes go two-six months without speaking, I still feel like he gets it and is one of the few that do. So I'm extremely excited about July and Boston. I love the new friends I've made in Birmingham, but there's just something about being around people who have known you for more or less half of your life and these are the only two non-family members in my life who can say that.

Then in August, or perhaps also in July, I will probably be making a trip to
Seattle to visit Chris. I need to sit down with him and talk about specific dates, but it will probably be right before my next move, after I've given notice at my job. Chris is one of those amazing people I've met in Birmingham in the last nine months, but unfortunately, he moved to Seattle a little over a month or so ago. Not that I will mind visiting him in Seattle
at all. It sounds like a wonderful city and I might even be able to see my friends Kat and KrisTina while I'm there. I was able to see KrisTina briefly when she visited Andrew and Jane last fall, but I haven't seen Kat since I visited Southlake in December 2001.

I am incredibly excited about my move to
. Finishing my master's degree has only become more important in my mind in the last year. I feel used up as a secretary. Having the graduate assistantship sounds immeasurably better. I've spoken with the professor I'll be assisting and the other T.A.'s for next year. They're a bunch of neat guys, though I think I might be the only female. It should make for an interesting year.

And getting to see Adam and Toni and Brannon and Eric again will be so great. I haven't been back to
Mobile since I moved last August and I do miss them. James and I will be sharing a townhouse near my old apartment complex, which is right down the street from the YMCA, a Starbucks, the local Barnes & Noble, etc. My friend Natalie from Birmingham might/will probably be moving to Pensacola sometime this fall and she might not be the only member of the Birmingham
crew moving down to the coast.

The future is still pretty murky right now and I'm not sure when it will clear. The unknowns in this equation definitely outweigh the knowns. I am staying as optimistic as I can be, knowing that when it doubt, books and hermitage are still fairly appealing to me.