An only child born and raised in wilderness areas of Southern Africa - for the first 10 years of Tippi's life, "wild" animals were her friends!
Tippi Degre and the Animals of Africa
Looking at the photographs of Tippi and various wild animals, it's difficult to believe that they are actually real images! The truth is that she did get unusually close to the animals in the pictures, but many of these animals were not in fact truly wild. Most of the animals photographed with Tippi were orphaned wildlife species raised by humans on ranches or from other habituated backgrounds, like the circus or film industry.
The largely overlooked fact that these animals were not completely wild, does not detract from the amazing bond Tippi formed with these creatures. This fearless little girl still got up incredibly close to a host of animals few would trust so fully.
The most captivating part of this unique story is the unbelievable photographs her parents took of Tippi as a small girl getting up close to different animals that they encountered on their extensive travels through Africa.
Here are some of the animals that became her friends:
A young Leopard nicknamed J&B
Tippi and a Cheetah
Tippi and Lion Cubs
Tippi on a 28-year old Elephant - Abu was, in fact, a veteran circus performer and had been used in films and commercials.
Tippi Riding an Ostrich named Linda, that lived on an ostrich farm.
Tippi Holding a Snake
Other animals Tippi befriended include:
Crocodiles, giraffes, a Northern Greater Galago, a Banded Mongoose, meerkats, a baby zebra, a Caracal, an African Grey Parrot, giant bullfrogs and chameleons.
Tippi also became friends with the Bushmen and Himba people of Namibia.
These indigenous people taught her how to survive on roots and berries and to speak their language.
Tippi Degre Today - Where is the Wild Child Now?
Very little is known about Tippi Degre's life today.
Now 23 years old, Tippi is rumoured to have gone back to Africa to be in the wild!
She is known among other things for supervising the care of tigers in Fort Boyard, off the coast of France, which is the stage for a popular international game show.
Latest reports state that Tippi was trying to get a Namibian passport because she has always seen herself as African.
After the Wild - Tippi out of Africa
At the age of ten, Tippi moved to Madagascar and then to Paris with her parents, where she was treated as a local celebrity.
The huge adjustment from African bush to French city took its toll however and after two years of state schooling, Tippi left school to be home-schooled. After living in the wilderness with animals and tribal people, it is said that she had little in common with other children at school and struggled to adapt to modern life.
After moving to Paris, Tippi returned to Southern Africa to make six nature documentaries with the Discovery Channel.
She then went on to study cinema at la Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris and wrote a best-selling book called Tippi of Africa.
Tippi - Bridging the Gap to Africa (Trailer)
A short YouTube video of Tippi returning to Africa at the age of 16 to create awareness about wildlife conservation and protecting indigenous cultures.
Her visit was aimed at "bridging two completely different cultures, meeting old and new friends."
The "Real Life Mowgli" as Tippi is known, was named after Tippi Hedren, an animal activist and actress who starred in Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds'. The actress, Tippi Hedren, is said to have kept fully-grown lions in her home as pets, an apt name for Tippi Degre, a person so close to nature's creatures.
Photos of Tippi Degré on Pinterest:
- Tippi Degre - admirable girl - Good collection of photographs of Tippi.
"A French girl named Tippi Degre called the real-life Mowgli. This little girl is so amazing, gaze her courage!"
- Tippi Degré - Tippi Benjamine Okanti Degré (includes several video clips)
- Tippi Degre & Gregory Colbert photos - Photos of humans and animals (including Tippi and wildlife)
Here's an honest account of Tippi's Unique Experiences and wild childhood.
The Telegraph also featured a good overview of Tippi's Childhood in Africa with some of the amazing photographs.