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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pam w.
pam w3 years ago

By encouraging these animals to trust and interact with humans, this woman is endangering them, NOT helping. Baboons can be extremely dangerous...they have enormous canines and a social system which depends on an '' alpha'' male.

Anyone who feeds wild animals is not only risking the animals' lives....they're risking any human who interacts with them in future.

Glennis Whitney
Glennis W3 years ago

Such a loving and caring story, reminds me of the monkeys in Bali coming up all the time for a feed, thank you for sharing.

Glennis Whitney
Glennis W3 years ago

Wonderful story, adorable baboons, they sure know where their bread is buttered, so gentle and quiet.

katarzyna phillips

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?!

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

Laurie is right.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

almost human...

Carole R.
Carole R5 years ago

Nice story. Thanks.

mary l.
mary l5 years ago


Carrie Anne Brown

great article, thanks for sharing :)

Cindy B.
Cindy B6 years ago

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!!!