Karen-PaolilloKaren Paolillo

Karen Paolillo was born in Hertfordshire, UK, but has been living in the African bush for the last two decades. She is the Founder of the Turgwe Hippo Trust in the south east Lowveld of Zimbabwe. She shares her bush home with her French husband, Jean-Roger, six cats and one slender mongoose named Squiggle. Her principal neighbours are the Turgwe Hippos which inspire her passion and dedication. Having watched them daily for the last twenty years, she has become known as “the Lady who talks to Hippos”, or “The River-Horse Whisperer”. Karen’s first book, about life with the hippos, will be published in 2014 by Penguin South Africa.


 A Hippo Love Story (Penguin SA)

A Hippo Love Story


Karen Paolillo discovered this first-hand in Zimbabwe when she developed a close connection with thirteen hippos in their natural habitat, the Turgwe River.

Her mission to save these exceptional animals after they came under threat of drought, land invasion and poachers developed into a beautiful African love story. It is also the stirring tale of how one woman faced both personal and financial adversities while ensuring the survival of a family of hippos, with Bob, a three-ton bull, as their leader.

With the establishment of the Turgwe Hippo Trust, Karen has triumphed as guardian of the hippos, and the animals have propsered ever since. A Hippo Love Story shares this heroic journey of a nature lover who became an ally of one of Africa’s most fearsome animal species.

This fascinating portrait of a hippo family is interwoven with the story of Karen Paolillo, the remarkable lady who succeeded against overwhelming odds to create a sanctuary for her feloow animals in a remote corner of south-eastern Zimbabwe. Beautifully written, fast-paced, colourful and evocative, this is an astonishing tale of love and courage, dedication and triumph.’ – Kobie Kruger, author of All Things Wild and Wonderful and Mahlangeni

Hilary Johnson organised my manuscript into a far more manageable tale of my life with the hippos. Her further assistance in finding a wonderful agent resulted in A Hippo Love Story being published. In today’s market new authors need all the help they can get, and it is thanks to Hilary that I can now add ‘author’ to my CV. ~ Karen Paolillo