A Girl And Her Rhino: A Friendship Like You’ve Never Seen!
You’re sure to have heard of unlikely friendships before. But this may be the unlikeliest of all! It’s the story of a little girl named Tiva. Like most kids, Tiva desperately wanted a puppy. Instead, she got a rhino. And their story is truly incredible!
Tiva’s childhood was different from most kids in the sense that she and her family lived at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya. The 62,000 acres was a safe haven for many animals facing the threat of extinction. Rangers kept a close eye on the animals, protecting them from merciless hunters.
A Child’s Wish
Despite her unique home environment, Tiva was like most kids in the sense that all she wanted growing up was her very own puppy. But with the exotic animals that roamed the sanctuary — zebras, leopards, rhinos, elephants, etc. — a dog just wasn’t possible.
But that didn’t mean God wasn’t going to answer Tiva’s prayers for an animal companion. He just had a very different plan for doing so!
A Rhino In Need
Around the same time that Tiva was dreaming of raising a puppy, little Lola was born. She was a baby rhinoceros who’s mother was blind.
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Sadly, while Lola was still young, her blind mother wandered off one day and didn’t return. This left Lola to fend for herself.
Or rather, it would have if rangers didn’t intervene and move the abandoned rhino closer to Tiva’s home. And once the two met, a beautiful and very unique friendship was born!
God At Work
It may not have been the “puppy” that Tiva was looking for, but God had certainly sent her the animal companionship she desired.
And for Lola, the sweet and loving Tiva was just the nurturing she needed after losing her mom.
Isn’t in incredible the way God can work? Rhino’s are typically known for their aggression towards humans. But at Lola’s young age, the love and care she received from the sanctuary staff and Tiva made these humans family.
It was a bond so impressive, Australian journalist Peter Greste couldn’t resist photographing the unusual pair. And those pictures caught the attention of author Craig Hatkoff.
“It was so unlikely that a little girl would have a rhino as a pet,” Craig says.
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And yet, as strange as these two seem by human standards, in God’s infinite wisdom and grace, they made the perfect pair!
A Unique Friendship To Inspire Others
Peter’s photos tell a “sweet story about friendship.” Some of the most striking to Craig are the ones showing Tiva and Lola at play.
“The dramatic pictures are the two of them rolling around in the mud,” he says. “Rhinos need mud so they don’t get sunburn. The little girl is wearing a white outfit and the next thing you know she is rolling in the mud puddle with the rhino.”
From Peter’s photos, Tiva and Lola’s bond inspired a children’s book by Craig, Isabella and Julianna Hatkoff called Lola and Tiva: An Unlikely Friendship.
In the book, Craig sums up the purpose behind their divine pairing beautifully by saying:
“Lola learned about being a rhinoceros. Tiva learned about being a friend.”
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A New Season In Life
Once Lola was old enough to care for herself, she was moved nearby to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. As a well adjusted, full grown adult, she still lives there today.
Sometimes God puts people (or animals!) in our lives for a season. But the impact they have can last a lifetime. That is certainly the case for Lola and Tiva!
“A friend loves at all times; and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17
A tough biker and THIS baby make for an unlikely pair you’ve just got to see!
h/t: The Dodo