Increase Your Family

During the horrendous drought of 1991/92, Karen Paolillo kept the last 13 Turgwe hippos alive. Jean-Roger Paolillo  built them a cemented pan and a water trough, as the Turgwe River dried up completely. Piping was laid to the nearest borehole over 18km away in order to fill the pan and the trough.
Karen Paolillo, the founder of the Trust, personally fed these hippos an amount of just under one ton of food each night, as there was no natural grazing left in the bush. At the end of the drought they were the only hippos left alive. All others either died or moved far away, never to return.
Since that time at the end of 2020 64 hippo calves have been born. At this moment there are 24 hippos in the Turgwe River.

By adopting one of the hippos in the two study groups, you will help us to achieve some of the goals below.  All of these things help to ensure the long-term well being and survival of these Turgwe hippos:

  • The Trust needs to purchase a small tractor and trailer to make it easy for projects we carry out here,
  • We need to replace an old vehicle by purchasing a second-hand four by four pickup truck. We have some of the funding not all,
  • Maintaining existing weirs within the river system by cementing breaks and keeping them in good repair,
  • Bonuses paid to rangers when they have caught poachers,
  • Feeding the hippos when needed like we did in 2019 when we had a short duration drought, 2016 with a long lasting drought and 2013 a short duration drought. We fed as the land where the hippos used to be able to graze has been taken over by cattle and human occupation, so to keep them safe from being possibly shot as problem animals during a drought situation it is best to feed them to keep them away from settled areas,
  • Keeping Steve our “house hippo” in food so he remains a permanent evening visitor to Hippo Haven which results in less contact with the dominant male and a chance of being hurt. 7 young males have been killed over the last years so at least he has found a home with us for now.

Since year 2000, we have been heavily involved in keeping these hippos and all wildlife alive by daily patrolling the bush to remove wire snares set by poachers. Your adoption is instrumental in paying bonuses to rangers when catching poachers as they help us in this anti-poaching task, as well as keeping the Trust’s vehicle on the road, and maintaining the Trust’s sand pump. Without this pump the hippos would not have pools during the dry season due to the heavy silting up of the Turgwe River.  Silting is because of human encroachment on riverbanks due to crop cultivation on or near riverbanks.  Or movement of domestic livestock causing erosion by overgrazing and movement to water sources.


When you adopt a Hippo you will receive via email:

  • Three photos of your hippo. An extra photo six months later and an extra bonus photo for a special occasion of your choice, birthday, holiday season, valentine, etc,
  • A video clip of your hippo,
  • A personalised certificate which you can print out,
  • Two updates about your hippo, one on adoption, and one six months later,
  • As well as a newsletter about the Turgwe Hippo Trust and a fact sheet about hippos.


Latest news from the Turgwe Trust:

Hi everyone, as you may or may not know the cost of living in Zimbabwe has sky rocketed.  So for the first time in two decades I am afraid I have to put up the price of a hippo adoption for new adopters.  Anyone renewing will still pay the old price using the renewal choice when choosing the hippo. I do hope you will all understand that it is to help save the hippos and all the wildlife in the area of the Turgwe Hippo Trust.  We may have another drought for this year if so I will need even more help from you all, but  let us hope it will rain.

Love to you all Karen and the hippos xxx

Adopting a Hippo for one year is just $65 (or 50£).

And if you are renewing a former adoption, it will be only $55 (or 35£) !

How to adopt ?  Just few easy steps to process:

  • Step 1 : Make your choice of the hippo to adopt. You have a huge choice of different characters,
  • Step 2 : Take your time to choose a cute one from the proposed catalog, if you live in UK, select your favorite currency (£) (otherwise working currency is USD $), then add the hippo selected into your Cart,
  • Step 3 : Check and confirm the content of the Cart, then proceed to the Checkout page and fill the form with all requested details, feel free to add comments as you wish then push the payment button to reach Paypal’s website for payment,
  • If you offer an adoption for a relative, please fill the checkout form fields with his-her name, email address, to allow us to send directly the adoption package to the foster.
  • Step 4 : Once Paypal has confirmed receiving your contribution, the adoption process will be completed, and you will receive the full adoption package within a couple of days. Please be patient, we are in the middle of the bush (check ‘Where We Are’ page) and Internet access is sometimes capricious 🙂

Warning for Hotmail, Verizon and Comcast users:

Please note : if you are adopting a hippo for the first time and if your email address is hosted at Hotmail, Verizon or Comcast, we suggest you to add the Trust’s email address:  ‘<“”>’  into your mailer’s address book before sending (receiving) your adoption.  We have found that those servers often block the Trust’s attachments.


Thank you very much.


The TurgweHippoTrust Management.