Haller Park Mombasa Home of Owen and Mzee
Haller Park on Mombasa’s North Coast is nature lover’s paradise. Meet two of its most famous inhabitants, best friends – Owen the hippo and Mzee the Tortoise.
Haller Park, formerly known as the Bamburi Nature Trail, is located in a former limestone quarry of Bamburi Cement factory in Bamburi, Mombasa. It is easily accessible by both private and public transport. You will not miss the huge signpost on the Mombasa-Malindi road.
Haller park has two aspects to it – the park itself and the forest trails. A number of ponds surrounded by tall trees dot the 309ha area, and it is difficult to imagine that it was once just a dusty quarry. A wooden ledge over one of the ponds opens up to a bar, Sunset Terrace where you can stop to enjoy a drink.
There is a butterfly pavilion which is a breeding area for the colourful flying insects of all sizes and designs that weave their way through the potted plants.
The forest trails are not only excellent for nature watching, but also for leisure and fitness. There are cycling as well as jogging trails and a 1.7km trail called Vitaparcours. An open playground caters for children, and there’s even an attendant to supervise them while you explore the park.
Mflame, king of the ocean, is a colossal life-sized whale on display at Haller Park, creatively designed from non-biodegradable multi-coloured flip-flops (pati pati) that have been collected from beaches around Kenya. The display aims to create awareness of marine pollution, as well as a greater understanding of the impact of whaling.
About Owen and Mzee:
Owen was found in 2004, a one-year old baby hippo who had been orphaned during the tsunami that affected the Kenyan coast. After being rescued by villagers, he was taken to Haller Park and put up with his new roommate Mzee, an Aldabra Giant Tortoise, who is believed to be 130 years old. Owen took to Mzee immediately, but Mzee was not so keen on his aspirant buddy. However, over time they became inseparable, with Mzee growing fond of his new charge.
Unfortunately, Owen and Mzee have been separated for a while now as the hippo was becoming violent towards Mzee.