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40 Baboons Go Trick-or-Treating on Halloween

40 Baboons Go Trick-or-Treating on Halloween


You might say that every day is Halloween at Hippo Haven in Zimbabwe. Run by the Turgwe Hippo Trust, this protected wild area offers both refuge and rewards for baboons and other wildlife.

“We do give them a boost to their natural wild diet, especially during the height of the dry season which begins in September and lasts through to the rains in December,” the Trust’s Founder Karen Paolillo explains. “We supply them with oranges and grapefruits from a neighbor’s agricultural lands. This is especially beneficial to any baboon who is sick or malnourished as that extra boost of vitamin C can only help them.”

No Candy…But Something Better on the Menu

And while Halloween candy isn’t on the menu here, something much more valuable awaits the visiting baboons.

“We buy horse cubes, a protein based feed which we first came across when we gave it as a supplement to the hay fed to the Turgwe Hippos during a horrendous drought,” Karen said. “Each baboon gets a few handfuls of cubes on a daily basis.”

“They roost in trees above Hippo Haven, and as regularly as clockwork they arrive for their food early morning and evening,” Karen tenderly explains. “During dry season, they often stay around Hippo Haven knowing that they may get a bit of extra food if they cannot find any in the natural bush around our home.”

The Baboons Need Protection

“But the threats to baboons are many,” Karen continues. “In our area, sport hunters will shoot baboons for fun.  Others use them for bait to kill predators. And illegal settlers will also attack baboons if they approach their lands.  A lot of white farmers and ranchers will even poison baboons as they do not like having large baboon troops on their lands.”

A Selfless Devotion to Wildlife

The Turgwe Hippo Trust is caught in the middle and they’d have it no other way. Yet their selfless devotion to the wildlife here comes at a price. In truth, the animals eat better than the people who have hunkered down to protect them. This tiny charity is in a constant struggle to come up with funding to buy meager meals, to repair an ever-troubled generator and to buy fuel for their vehicle. But through bouts of malaria and violent attacks by poachers, they vow to remain in the bush to protect the wildlife who need them.

“The baboons know that Hippo Haven is a safe retreat and they always head for us if any sign of danger is in the bush.” Karen says. “We’re here for them.”

Love What You See?

You may enjoy more photos of Hippo Haven or make a donation to help.


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7:36AM PST on Jan 23, 2013

nice article, tells another side of this haven; but where is the link to halloween? all it says is:

"“We do give them a boost to their natural wild diet, especially during the height of the dry season which begins in September and lasts through to the rains in December,”" halloween is October the 31st, so yeah, somewhere in between those months.

and they get these "horse cubes...on a daily basis" as well, so again, what has this to do with halloween?!

1:22PM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

Laurie is right.

1:21PM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

almost human...

10:24AM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

Nice story. Thanks.

5:33AM PDT on Apr 14, 2012


11:20AM PST on Nov 20, 2011

great article, thanks for sharing :)

9:51PM PST on Nov 7, 2011

The Turgwe Hippo Trust must be in Heaven as it is populated by angels like Karen P. I am blown away with gratitude for people like her. THANK YOU KAREN!!!

6:28PM PST on Nov 6, 2011

How can someone shoot an animal for fun?? I am so happy that there is a safe haven for animals in need.

12:37PM PDT on Nov 5, 2011

Thank you all for your comments regarding the baboons here at Hippo Haven, Turgwe Hippo Trust. Just one thing we only give them supplementary food as they are wild and there are no other people in the area that they would go to for food, this is not a tourist area or a built up area, nearest neighbours are 18kilometers away so no chance of them hassling others for food.
Re vit C we give the oranges as a tit bit but when a baboon is sick from fighting or ill health we build it up with extra oranges and even if they have a natural healing ability it cannot harm them and does seem to help. They share our life here and come and go as they please, we see them a lot less when there is plenty of food in the bush. Thank you all for caring Karen and the animals xxx

6:23PM PDT on Nov 3, 2011

There are still fashionable very expensive clothes being made with baboon fur !!!!!!!!!! Unbelievable but true.

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