Back Home in Zimbabwe

Published : 21 Dec, 2017

On arriving home at Hippo Haven from the longest time we have left here in over 27 years, 4.5 weeks, it was very hard in some ways.

I had the honour of giving my presentation about the hippos at the Royal Geographic Society, Ondaatje Theatre in London, meeting some amazing people.

We then went on to stay with my lovely friend Suzie Marsh and husband Doug Dale in Cornwall. Suzie is a very talented animal sculptor.


After Cornwall on to another great friend Jenny Bowen, who runs Sense Africa, which I highly recommend, and who has just had her first book published, Sense Africa Five Ways  where you will find a chapter or  two about Hippo Haven and the life here.

On to more fun in London with other great people and then our own holiday with just the two us.  Coming home was bitter sweet in that I miss good friends and my own roots, having been born in the UK and the laughter and kindness of the people that I know.

The animals though knew how to welcome me home.

Vixen one of the wild baboons wanted to be stroked something she has not done for some time.

Vixen was pleased to see me home after 4.5 weeks away

Baby baboon playing with our roof!

Baboon and elephants in front of the house

The hippos were chilled and peaceful, and young Steve, and later Richard, the two new calves showed off beautifully.

Baby Steve and Mum Relief

George on the left playing with Steve

On the second day over 30 elephants came along to our piece of land at Hippo Haven and walked in the riverbed below the house.

Elephant below Hippo Haven day after we came home


Elephant family at Hippo Haven


This elephant climber over this broken tree


Elephant in the riverbed below Hippo Haven

Perfect as this allowed my dear Australian friend Mirinda  to see them up close and personal,  very unusual at this time of the year.

Mirinda with her team Silas, Hebert and Elijah

She deserved this having looked after Hippo Haven for all the time we were away and doing the most amazing job.  Since then we have had lions and hyena calling, and the animals here have made me realize that this is where I do belong. I just wish I could import those lovely people who I have left behind overseas.

So I would like now to wish every one of you reading this and many of you  who have helped these hippos for all these years, the very best of Christmas, or Happy Holidays if that is what you prefer.

I hope that 2018 will be a year filled with laughter, love, and lucky days but most importantly a year where our worlds animals, wild, domestic, commercial  and those that share our lives will all have much better lives and that respect and love for them will grow in magnitude.


Until next year much love to you  all Karen and the hippos xxx

You May Also Like…

Latest News from April 2024

Latest News from April 2024

[pdfjs-viewer url= viewer_width=1000px...

Another Brick in the Wall

Another Brick in the Wall

Delivery of Bricks Delivery of bricks to build storage shed for the hay and also feed for the hippos and other...


  1. Susan Monteiro

    Really enjoyed your talk in London and glad you had such a special welcome home. Beautiful photos. Happy New Year to you all!

    • karen paolillo

      thank you Susan I am so pleased you enjoyed the talk. It really meant a lot to me as well as the audience were really supportive and it was a fantastic night. Happy New Year to you as well. We sure got a lovely welcome home. Now we just wait for more rain as we could do with a good downpour. Love Karen and all the hippos

  2. Johanna

    Lovely photos! The animals gave you a great “Welcome home-party”, showing their splendour in various ways … just beautiful! Have a great Christmas and may 2018 be a year filled with new happy moments and memories.
    Love J

  3. Lona Goudswaard

    Good to hear you enjoyed your stay in the UK and also that you realized when you came back to Hippo Haven that this is where your home is and which gives you the sense of belonging, Karen.

    For all of the hard workers at Hippo Haven: Holiday greetings to all!
    I hope 2018 will be a good year for humans and animals alike, with an optimum of rain and dry spells to have Hippo Haven continue to flourish.

  4. Lori Sirianni

    Happy Christmas, Karen, Jean and all the hippos, elephants, baboons and all creatures at Hippo Haven. Cheers from Canada, may 2018 bring rain and lots of food for the animals to eat, good health and blessings to all.

  5. Steve Gordon

    Happy Holidays to you and Jean

  6. Pat Marston

    Karen, Thank you so much for that lovely Christmas & New Year greeting. It was a real pleasure & honour to meet you at the Ondaatje Theatre – a truly memorable evening. I would like to wish the both of you and your team all the very best. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas & that 2018 will be a good year for the Turgwe Hippo Trust – with no long-protracted drought.

    • karen paolillo

      Thank you Pat is was so lovely to meet people in person even though it was very quick and I did not have time to have lengthy talks it was still lovely to get past just the virtual hello and it means a lot to me. I hope 2018 is a great year for you Love Karen and all the hippos


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.