SQUIGGLE (March 3rd 2013 to May 18th 2022)

Published : 19 May, 2022

I never knew that pain could be as severe as it is now inside of my body. In my years of loving animals I have had many pass over the rainbow bridge and in every loss the sorrow, the grief, and guilt has enveloped me. Yet today it is more than that, it is a loss like no other.

Squiggle really was my baby. People think that women like myself who love animals and do not have children relate to the animals like children that has never been the case with me, until Squiggle came along. Jean-Roger and I hand reared her together from finding her lost in the bush with her umbilical cord attached, and one eye open and one still closed. 9 years and 2 months ago. Up every 2 hours for 3 weeks condensed in relation to a human child’s needs, but she was so little weighed around 50grams and yet her tenacity of spirit and sheer determination to survive and the love she was being given from us both, pulled her through, and she survived. The bond I had with her I have experienced with a pony, with a cat, with a dog and with two hippos Bob and Steve. Yet Squiggle slept with us, lived with us and was very much part of our home.

We would never leave her at home for more than 3 nights and most of the time if possible she travelled with us. She loved being in her small travelling cage on the road to wherever we were headed. She stayed in various homes in Harare where colleagues and friends allowed her to stay, and she was smuggled into the odd hotel. She was given anything she wanted if we had it to give. She had to have her scrambled eggs cooked to her liking not to ours. When we travelled she had more belongings than us, her comfort blanket her three different cages for different places. At home when we had to leave her she had a cage big enough to house a pony, and she weighed a mere 500grams. She stayed in that cage in the living room with Silas sleeping in the same room to keep an eye on her. If we ever left home for work or holiday for longer than 3 days we had to have a house sitter, and this was mainly so that Squiggle would be safe.


My darling friend Mirinda Thorpe from Australia would fly all the way to Zimbabwe to look after our home, the work, the staff, but most importantly Squiggle. One time when Miri was with us I thought I had lost Squiggle that she had got out of the house and been hurt. Mirinda will know what I feel right now. Squiggle lived in our home with us always, at first when she was young I took her for walks in the bush with her on one of my feet but as she grew and started venturing into holes and up trees I became to paranoid for her safety and so she lived in doors. But not like caged but in a whole house with an en suite outside large cage, which could also hold several large dogs for she had to have sun and grass. As well as en suite bathroom. Yet she preferred to be indoors with us, either on my shoulder or playing with Jean-Roger. She so loved to play with him. Jean and she had a special play bond and his love for her he has never experienced before with an animal. I had the love and cuddle bond. She was such a diva and could bite harder than a bull terrier when she wanted to make a point. She was shy of strangers but once she got used to our volunteers, many of them had the pleasure of Squiggle on their lap or running across their feet. Squiggle played a lot and slept a lot and talked to the cats on the outside of the house. She grew up with our cats in the house but as they died from old age the new cats I was afraid to bring in, in case they hurt Squiggle or she them. She has been known to chase baboons out of the house when occasionally they got inside. 500grms of fury up again 50kgs with big teeth, no problem at all for Squiggle. Our life evolved around Squiggle she really was everything to us. I have no Steve at present and you all know what he means to me, but Squiggle really was my baby and the grief and the hurting of my body is practically unbearable to bare. I could not let her go from 5.am when she died until 10 a.m. And I cannot face anyone or anything. I wish I could run and just keep running and never have to face anything ever again. I can’t though as I run a charity for hippos, I have donating guests arriving this weekend. I have 6 cats to look after in their respective cottages. Warthogs, baboons, vervets and bush pigs who come to our home for safety. Two of the cats, Nelson the one with one blind eye and his grandmother Tinkerbell who is getting very old we are going to bring into the house today after we have buried our baby. I do not think I am being disloyal to Squiggle, as we both just cannot stand the emptiness of the house without her, and the two cats have issues, so they will be happy to have a house to live in I think. At present our cats live in the two cottages which they share with volunteers. I am writing this to try and alleviate the hollowness in my body. It does not stop it but it is also for everyone to know what a special girl Squiggle was.

Squiggle you gave me more than any living being has ever done human or animal and I pray with every ounce of my soul that we will meet again. With my love, my admiration, my tears and my memories I leave you for now but we will meet again. Your loving substitute mummy, and daddy as Jean-Roger loved you so much as well.

When I can face it I am going to find photos from when she was young to now to put up for you all.

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  1. karen paolillo

    thank you Richard for your kind words. We now have guests who are lovely people so we are being kept busy but she is with us every second of the day. In all places in our home and in our heart she is there, the hollowness and emptiness is still there but with time hopefully we will lose that and only have her as a happy memory. I miss her every second. Love Karen and the hippos

  2. Richard Levy

    So sorry for your loss, Karen, and I do hope you find the time to grieve. I wish you and your family of people and animals healing. Warmly, Rich


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