Karen Paolillo walks in the Zimbabwe bush every day and shares her neighborhood with elephants, leopards, baboons and hippos. But on one recent excursion, she came across a small ball of fur squeaking and crying. The sound was coming from a baby mongoose and a natural mother was nowhere to be found.
“There was no termite nest nearby, no hole, no nothing,” Karen explains. “I could not just leave the baby as it’s eyes were not even open yet and the umbilical cord was still attached although slightly dry.”
Knowing that without a mother’s protection, the baby mongoose didn’t stand a chance, Karen did the only thing she could. She set up a trail camera to try to watch for a returning mother mongoose and then she took the little one home.
The first feeding was done by syringe with a formula concocted after a quick consultation with other wildlife experts in the area. The baby, given the name Squiggle, was snuggled into a pair of thermal hats for warmth. It would be a very long night, with feedings every two hours, but Karen and her husband Jean Roger were ready, and because the trail camera footage revealed only a pair of lions in the area where Squiggle was found, one night would turn to many.
It has been about six weeks since Squiggle was found and her life is full of wonder. Enjoy this video clip of Squiggle’s adventure walks with Karen.
As Squiggle grows up, she will begin to spend more and more time in the bush and develop some degree of independence from Karen. The expectation is that she may grow up to live in a semi-wild state and share her time between her natural environment and in the company of Karen.
In contrast to the complex aspects of wildlife protection here in the Zimbabwe bush, Karen and Jean Roger find Squiggle’s needs rather easy to meet. Much of their time is spent addressing overarching threats to animals here ,not just in the form of poaching, but in orchestrating major food and water initiatives to help the wildlife here during times of drought.