Baby hippo at Care for Wild

Hanging out with hippos

Joining the Khulula Care for Wild project is hard work: Many past participants will testify to busy days, rising at 6 am for the first feeding round before your breakfast (if you were lucky enough not to have drawn the short straw for the 2 am feed of the rhino orphans!). You will be on your feet for most of the day, carrying buckets full of water or bottles with formula and keeping eager rhino calves, nosy monkeys, and feisty mongoose at bay, who all want a meal.

But it’s in amongst all the chores and challenges that the magic of Khulula Care for Wild sneaks in. It’s on the day when Donnie isn’t the “small” rhino – he’s the bossy one with all the antics! When you enter the barn, you automatically greet Screech, the barn owl, who was released a long time ago but decided he likes it just fine in the barn. When you spend your downtime hanging out with Kate the volunteer and Emma the hippo because both have become good mates, that’s when you’ve become a part of Khulula – and Khulula and all its residents have become a part of you. Forever.

I spent six weeks at Care for Wild, hoping it would be everything I dreamed of. I was able to experience first-hand the hard work that goes into caring for such incredible animals and, better yet, the fantastic reward that is given when the animals begin to trust you. Emma and Molly (the hippos) were the best part of my day. Fortunately, I got to work closely with two hilarious, charming, and memorable hippos. During my time at Care for Wild, I experienced the arrival of two new baby rhinos and could watch and help them settle in. I made wonderful friends and saw the genuine passion and dedication that the owner, Petronel, has for every animal that comes into her care.

Lucy Sloane