"I never see children. So the animals are my friends."
January 18, 2013 3:19 PM   Subscribe

Born in Africa to French wildlife photographer parents, Tippi Degré had a most unusual childhood. (Possibly NSFW)
posted by DaDaDaDave (19 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
This made me very happy, thanks!
posted by Grandysaur at 3:24 PM on January 18, 2013

Tippi Degré was born in 1990 and is currently a film student in Paris. Here is her official website (English version), which doesn't appear to have been updated since 2000.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 3:25 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was onboard until the picture of her standing on a crocodile.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:36 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Loved all of it!
posted by _paegan_ at 3:58 PM on January 18, 2013

I was onboard until the picture of her standing on a crocodile.

so, the cheetah playfully biting her shoulder was ok?
posted by sineater at 4:04 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was onboard until the picture of her standing on a crocodile.

That one looks edited to me.
posted by melissam at 4:16 PM on January 18, 2013

Sucks that this article was behind a paywall, seems like these images will be forwarded like this for years to come
SHE HAS been described as the "real-life Mowgli", a child who grew up in the African bush. Her friends were the elephant, leopard and ostrich she played with in the sun-baked wilderness.
The extraordinary photographs of little Tippi Degre that appeared in last week's newspapers tell only part of the story, however. It emerged this weekend that the elephant was a veteran circus performer and had featured in films and commercials.

Other animals photographed with the girl were orphaned creatures that had been brought up by humans on ranches. Linda, an ostrich befriended by Tippi, who is photographed perched on her back, lived on an ostrich farm. She was destined to become somebody's dinner....

Robert acknowledged that "a child in the bush, playing with a leopard, that doesn't exist in nature". But she defended the Mowgli comparison on the grounds that even if the creatures Tippi had played with were raised by humans "they are still wild animals".

There was certainly no question of Tippi, who is also seen in a loincloth, being brought up by the beasts, the fate that befell Mowgli. She lived with her parents, albeit at times in a tent in the bush when they were filming. She came into contact with animals mainly when the family visited friends with large ranches.

Among them was a cattle farmer with the leopard J&B, whose mother had given birth in a trap.
The leopard, Tippi explains in the book, had been fed with a bottle but had never been tamed. On one occasion he bit a local Namibian boy. "I played with him," she writes. "He could feel that I was not afraid of him so he never attacked me."

posted by melissam at 4:27 PM on January 18, 2013 [12 favorites]

Good find, melissam! Thanks for the extra info.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 4:40 PM on January 18, 2013

Too cool.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:48 PM on January 18, 2013

I wonder why the local children seemed less accessible than the animals to her. The pictures are beautiful, but being so isolated as a child is kind of sad.
posted by steinwald at 6:07 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Does anyone else have 'Born Free' stuck in their head?
posted by Mezentian at 6:32 PM on January 18, 2013

This thing sets off so many alarm bells it isn't even funny. Africa, where the nature is and where the people aren't.

One brief critique.
posted by col_pogo at 6:36 PM on January 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

Yeah, kind of gross how the pictures of her with actual people seem to be included under the rubric of "girl with exotic wild animals." And that quote -- "I don’t have friends here. Because I never see children. So the animals are my friends" -- makes me wonder if her parents socialized her to believe that the African kids she clearly met didn't really count as friend material.

The picture of her ecstatically hugging a giant toad is awesome, though.
posted by ostro at 6:53 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

That is astoundingly, heartbreakingly beautiful.
posted by clarknova at 8:05 PM on January 18, 2013

The critique which col_pogo posted is valid. Why are the beautiful San people not acknowledged as people?
Why were they not accounted as friends?
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:05 AM on January 19, 2013

Sorry, but what a load of old cobblers. They're cute pictures, but the cynical mumbo jumbo back story sticks in my craw. I haven't believed anybody can "talk" to wild animals since watching Rex Harrison as Dr Doolittle as a kid. For every charming picture of Tippi communing with the "wild" leopards and crocodiles, there are scores of people who get too close to wild animals or who leap into tiger enclosures for a big cat chat.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:41 AM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'd be charmed if she were wearing her day-to-day clothes, instead of "Tarzan" costumes. Little girl hugging the bejeezus out of an elephant trunk is pretty adorable... until it starts to look so posed you can hear the makeup department calling for "More mud!"

I bet she had a wonderful childhood engaging with what are essentially tamed animals living in (hopefully) humane conditions, a sort of open petting zoo - every kid's fantasy come true. But these aren't of that childhood; they're more like a child actor playing a part for promo stills.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:53 AM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's the thing that we wish Tippi were, but that she's not:
Dot and the Kangaroo (full movie!)
A cartoon character. Of course there are seriously problematic aspects of this story. It's real life. And it was the early 90s. Just ten years prior musicians were singing "Do They Know It's Christmas Time At All" to raise money to feed poor starving babies in Africa who don't even know about Santa Claus!!!

She's an adult now, and maybe even she realizes that a lot of this was pretty damn fucked up, while also being pretty awesome. Life's complicated that way. Watch the cute Australian cartoon.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 9:55 AM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by Gordafarin at 2:10 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

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