Tippi Degré aka Tippi of Africa, born of French wild life animal photographers, is the real, live version of Jungle Book. Except Tippi grew in Africa rather than India. Like the boy in the story, Mowgli, she also developed friendships with wild animals including a leopard nicknamed J&B, a 28-year old African elephant named Abu, lion cubs, giraffes, an Ostrich, crocodiles, a cheetah, giant bullfrogs, and even a snake. Tippi of Africa also made friends with the local tribespeople of Namibia as well.
“I don’t have friends here. Because I never see children. So the animals are my friends,” said the young Tippi once.
Due to the her parents, Alain Degré and Sylvie Robert, documenting Tippi’s life and interactions with the African wildlife, they published these photos in a book titled Tippi: My Book of Africa as well as the documentary Bridging the Gap. “She was in the mindset of these animals. She believed the animals were her size and her friends. She was using her imagination to live in these different conditions,” said Sylvie.
“It was magical to be able to be free in this nature with this child. She was a very lucky little girl – she was born and raised until the age of 10 totally in the wild.” said Sylvie. Tippi is now 23 years old.
She is now studying cinema at la Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris. With such a fantastically unique childhood of hugging bullfrogs like they were her dolls, riding ostriches off into the sunset and deeming a 5-ton elephant her brother, there’s no telling what kind of incredible movies she’ll make someday.
The scenes from the trailer of the documentary her parents made is simply jaw-dropping. To watch Tippi of Africa swat at snakes, get ‘bitten’ by a cheetah and climb up an elephant’s trunk, head HERE.
Photos by Alain Degré and Sylvie Robert