Mind-Blowing Images of a Little Girl Raised by Animals

There are a lot of phrases buzzing around Tippi Hedren, the famous French girl who grew up in Africa (not the actress from Birds, people). Phrases like “real life Mowgli” and “straight from the Jungle Book.” Born in 1990, Tippi had an incredible childhood living among the animals of Africa – and we mean literally among them. Her parents, Sylvie Robert and Alain Degre, were wildlife photographers and documented just how close she got to the creatures of the African continent. Trust us, whatever you expected, you’re going to be surprised just what happened.

30. Bottle and Elephant, Good to Go

Most little tots Tippi’s age here would have a favorite stuffed elephant. Tippi, on the other hand, had a favorite real elephant – or two. Let’s think about this for a minute: That adult elephant over there could crush little Tippi without even noticing, but there she is, way more interested in her bottle and completely unafraid. Heads up: Tippi’s attitude doesn’t really change through her life.

29. Favorite Frog Time!

We know, some of you are probably thinking, “Her parents probably just posed her with a bunch of animals, that’s really irresponsible of them!” But there’s the thing: Tippi freaking loves animals. You think you could make an average little girl pose with a giant, fat, (fortunately non-poisonous” frog like that? No way. She was born into this world and she loves it. Actually, the frog looks pretty happy, too.

28. Not Your Usual Cat Pic

By now you’re probably wondering how Tippi got so close to these animals. Like many nature photographers, her parents worked on ranches and reserves where at-risk or orphaned animals were raised. So this little lion cub wasn’t exactly roaming the Serengeti – but it’s not exactly a pet, either. The same is true of most of the animals Tippi hung around with: She didn’t just plop down in the wilderness, but they also aren’t remotely “tame” creatures.

27. An Ostrich to Brighten Your Day

What, this isn’t how all of you ride into work every day? Maybe it should be! This is an ostrich named Linda, because when you’re on an ostrich farm you tend to get a cute name, especially if you’re friendly to people. While Tippi may be riding this ostrich-like a young queen, we don’t suggest doing this, ever. Ostrich kicks can kill a lion and they aren’t the most patient of birds. Which makes this pic even more impressive, we guess!

26. A Kiss, Mr. Snake? Okay, Fine

Again, could you find another human this young who would let a snake do this? Honestly, even Tippi doesn’t look that thrilled, but she’s still about 10x more brave than we would be. We’re not sure what kind of snake this is, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it was venomous, because that’s how both snakes and Tippi roll.

25. And Here’s the Cutest Cheetah Ever

On the scale of big cats, cheetahs are probably one of the safest to be around: They’re smaller, skinny, and focus more on speed than strength (although they can still snap an antelope’s neck so, you know, relatively safe). Little Tippi shows off a little bit by letting the cheetah lick her arm, which we really hope doesn’t taste like antelope. 

24. That’s…Also a Way to Ride an Elephant

In addition to qualifying for the cutest picture of ever, this is also a great example of how much Tippi loved elephants – and how they seemed pretty affectionate to her, too! Also note the healthy ears and full, undamaged tasks, which are sadly rare sights among elephant kind. Just don’t try to go out and get an elephant Uber of your own, because results may vary.

23. Best Friends

Okay, let’s take a bit of a break from elephants and talk about how sweet this photo is. Also, let’s talk about how much cats like to nibble on Tippi, because it’s kind of alarming. When this little guy grows up, is he still going to want to gnaw on her fingers? That could end up being a problem, don’t you think? Just look at those giant paws!

22. Tippi Learns About Survival

We’re not sure what happened to all the camouflage between the last picture and now, but maybe it was too hot for it all. Anyway, while that seriously awesome hunter and his mouth-arrow strategy really catch the eye, let’s not forget that Tippi has her own bow and quiver. We really hope she learned some sweet bow skills, that would tie in nicely with our beastmaster theory.

21. Leopards Can’t Change Their Spots

As you can see, this lazy cat has no problem with little humans: This is actually a young leopard affectionately called J&B (we’re not sure why, but if any of you fluent in French have an idea, let us know). J&B is an excellent example of a not-quite-wild animal found in animal refugee areas.

20. Tippi at the Hairdressers

It’s no surprise that Tippi and her family worked closely with the indigenous people of Namibia, which included the Bushmen and the Himba. We’ve got a few more fascinating pics of them coming up, but we think it’s safe to say that Tippi’s parents probably found it a lot easier to work and live among the native peoples when they brought their charming daughter along.

19. Caring for Lion Cubs

Allow us to skip forward several years, at least for now. You see, Tippi stayed in Africa until she was ten years old, after which her parents moved back to Paris. That’s ten years of playing with your animal friends and, we assuming, learning their own secret languages. Tippi is the Beastmaster, is what we’re saying. Here she is, training two lion cubs to help her defeat villains back in Europe, we assume.

18. Hands Up for the Elephant March

All right, it’s time to talk about elephants, specifically, how much Tippi loves them. Her parents managed to capture her with a bunch of different animals, but she appears to have a particular affinity for elephants (hey, Mowgli was raised by wolves, so it could be worse). This particular elephant is actually a retired circus performer, which is why Tippi has no problem riding on his head.

17. “Go Down and Play In the Pond with Your Friends”

Everyone knows that elephants like to cool off with a nice puddle or mud bath – in fact, many of their travels are focused on finding just such safe spots to hang out with other elephants. That makes this pond a great spot for sanctuary elephants…and, of course, for kids who like to play in water, too. Looks like elephants and people have more in common than we thought!

16. “Can I Keep Him?”

In addition to looking completely badass, this photo also shows a more typical refuge elephant – they tend to be older and a bit beat-up. Tusks can become damaged in fights, sawed off by entertainers, or simply lost to the ravages of time. Fortunately, it looks like Tippi is going to take care of this one for us.


Okay, one final elephant shot: we like to imagine Tippi’s just thanking him for the nose ride here, and he’s totally okay with it.

14. Chilling with a Monkey

Real talk: Life in Namibia wasn’t exactly easy for Tippi. It was hot, dirty, and filled with lots of work for both her and her parents – plus, she had the added pressure of always being front and center for photographs, which can’t be easy for a little girl. So while it may be fun to romanticize all of this, it’s also good to note that Tippi probably appreciated moments when she could just sit and rest, no matter who she was hanging out with.

13. Getting Her Eyes Done

Okay, despite what we just said about all the hard work, this has got to be pretty fun right? Sure it’s still a photo shoot, but she also got to live in a badass hunter costume complete with eye shadow, administered by true African hunters. That’s got to be worth a little patience, right? Just sign us up!

12. Tippi Learns About Survival

We’re not sure what happened to all the camouflage between the last picture and now, but maybe it was too hot for it all. Anyway, while that seriously awesome hunter and his mouth-arrow strategy really catch the eye, let’s not forget that Tippi has her own bow and quiver. We really hope she learned some sweet bow skills, that would tie in nicely with our beastmaster theory.

11. Soon Everyone Will Be Wearing These

We’re not sure what that is, to be honest. A meerkat? A ground squirrel? Whatever creature it is, we’re not sure who’s getting the best deal here. After all, it gets a free ride in the shade, and Tippi gets a belt/friend/someone to keep the bugs away. Sounds pretty good for both sides if you ask us. Why didn’t this catch on in the fashion world?

10. Have Lizard, Will Travel

If you’re going to have a lizard friend, why not take him on a journey to see the world? Especially if you have a wooden suitcase to keep him in. Aw, who are we kidding? That’s obviously where Tippi keeps her bow and arrows for bringing justice to the world. Please don’t hurt us, Tippi.

9. Good Zebra!

This just looks like fun, no matter who you are. Look at that young zebra! He’s obviously loving whatever delicious thing is waiting in that container – and Tippi looks like she’s having fun herself. We assume it was only a few short years before she was riding him around and having crazy savanna adventures, but that’s just all in our heads.

8. More Monkey Play

Here are a couple things we haven’t seen much yet – shade and clothes! This unsure monkey also reminds us that monkeys and Tippi didn’t always get along: She was never hurt, but there was some unnecessary hair pulling here and there.

7. I’m Going to Take a Nap Right Here

Tippi’s parents have mentioned that taking photographs of their daughter up close and personal with these animals wasn’t always easy. Sometimes they would have photos with a cute kitten and come back a few months later to find a giant cat – quickly reversing their plans for a second photo shoot! However, they do say Tippi was always fearless as a child.

6. Okay, This Looks Safe Enough

A meerkat must have been a relief to parents who were mildly worried about their daughter getting eaten by a young lion. Still, we have to admit that the meerkat doesn’t look entirely pleased.

5. Now It’s His Turn

Okay, this looks a little more fair to what we’re still assuming is a meerkat, who now gets a top seat and some fun human hair to explore.

4. This, On the Other Hand…Does Not Look Safe

Okay, most parents wouldn’t let their daughter stop on top of a walk in the middle of a river where there might be crocodiles. Tippi is not only standing on a crocodile, but is also standing on one foot. We have no excuse for this one. It’s ridiculously dangerous. But, as we’ve learned, Tippi simply doesn’t care for danger.

3. That’s Not Africa!

Probably not, no. After all, her parents were nature photographers and weren’t required to stay in Namibia for their work. That’s why there’re pictures like these – which Tippi must have really enjoyed as a departure from the heat and dirt.

2. Older Tippi Goes Back

Tippi did briefly go back to Africa as a teen to visit old friends and family.

1. Life Goes On

So, what happened to Tippi after returning to France? You may be surprised to know that it was very, very normal. She struggled with school a bit. Her parents got divorced. She practiced the photography skills she had learned, and came out with a small book about her early life called My Book of Africa.

Tippi Today


Today Tippi has no desire to be famous or talking much about her childhood, which is why we’re not really sure what she’s doing right now. And after such an incredible childhood, we guess that’s fair.

When it comes to survival, nothing is more important than access to food and water. You’ve likely never heard of pemmican, but its one of the most nutritious and accessible foods in the wild. Invented by the natives of North America, pemmican was used by scouts as well as early western explorers. These people spent a great deal of time on the go and depended on having portable, high-energy, highly nutritious, and filling foods that would last for long periods of time without refrigeration.

Click Here to Learn How to Make Pemmican – The Ultimate Survival Food

People should avert their gaze from the modern survival thinking for just a bit and look at how folks 150 years ago did it.

Thanks for reading! Enjoy more Grizly survival articles here.


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