Our Animals

Having always been a passionate animal lover and being involved in various welfare and rescue organizations, especially since emigrating from Germany to Cape Town/ South Africa, it seemed a natural progression when building Chameleon Hill to also welcome the local furry friends into our piece of Ugandan paradise. Our animal family has grown extensively and is very much a highlight of many of our guest’s stay. We thought you might like to hear the stories behind how each one came to be with us …

  • Our Dogs

    Heidi – This precious girl was adopted from the SPCA in Kampala early in 2013, 6 months before the lodge opened. Initially she lived at our head office also in Kampala, along with another rescue girl called Honey who was blind. Heidi had a bad tooth infection, which resulted in the vet removing some teeth. During this operation, her vocal cords were unfortunately damaged, which meant she could no longer bark! This made her the perfect lodge dog and has been here since the very first day we opened, initially with a fellow SPCA rescue called Lilly who sadly just disappeared one day, never to return.

    Harvey – This is Heidi’s son and his story starts before he was born! When Heidi was adopted, we were assured that she was sterilised, so when she started getting fat … we could only think that she was perhaps eating a bit too much! July 13th 2014, was the night when Germany won the FIFA World cup and so there was much celebration that night where the lodge guests and staff came together and enjoyed a huge party! The excitement turned out to be a little too much for our expectant mom though and in the early morning hours, she gave birth to 9 gorgeous puppies as supervised and assisted by myself – who ever knew I could be a dog mid-wife! After two months in luxury, it was time for the pups to leave the lodge for their new homes, many of which, with our dedicated staff that had grown to love them very much. Patrick our GM took 2, our driver guide Charles took 1 (as well as another later on from the shelter). Jennie, our head office angel also gave 2 of them a home. Another 2 initially went to a guest house in Kisoro, but ended up being adopted elsewhere after they ate the washing! Last but not least … Harvey and another sibling named Holly were adopted by a neighbouring lodge. However, for reasons still not known to us to this day, a staff member alerted us that Holly had sadly been killed and Harvey was badly injured. We immediately took Harvey back to safety at Chameleon Hill and he has never left since. Although his physical wounds have now healed, his memories of this traumatic experience are still fresh in his mind and he is therefore sometimes very cautious when he first meets new people. Please be patient and gentle with him and in return, once he has realised you are a friend, he will shower you with love and ask for cuddles and tummy rubs.

    Rosie – After Lilly disappeared (the SPCA Rescue that arrived with Heidi at the beginning) – we thought that it would be the perfect tribute to her, if we would adopt another rescue from the same organisation. She had been such a special lady, loved by everyone and so it was important to us that her memory lived on. When we arrived at the SPCA to choose, Rosie was the only sterilised dog, so the choice was very easy. However, when rescuing a dog from a shelter, one can never really know their history and if she could speak – we are certain that Rosie would tell many heartrending stories about her pre-rescue life on the streets of Kampala, hungry and homeless. We might perhaps then understand why it took her months to even come close to anybody at all. Initially, she just sat and observed from a distance, how the other dogs interacted with the staff members and guests. We never gave up hope and slowly but surely, she started to trust us and her furry family members and realised that she had truly landed with her ‘bum in the butter’. Look at her now! She enjoys life to the fullest and is the cutest, funniest little dog you could ever meet. She loves to run like the wind and to ‘body surf’ down the hill on her tummy with the hind legs straight out at the back. Rosie is a true legacy to Lilly’s memory and just know they would have been the best of friends!

    The bigger picture …. When rescuing the afore-mentioned furry friends, we are not just providing them with a loving home, but hopefully also educating some of the Ugandan locals in the process. Most dogs are not considered family members or pets and are used purely as guard dogs. They are very often locked away in small cages during the day, being let out at night for just a few hours. The other problem is a severe lack of trained vets in the country and although the SPCA do their absolute best with the limited resources they have, sterilisation is the only sustainable answer to try and reduce the amount of stray, unwanted and abused dogs. This is why when Heidi’s pups were all 6 months old – we organised a reunion for them at the lodge and brought in a vet for 3 days to sterilise them all, ensuring that there will be no more middle of the night surprise deliveries and more importantly, no more dogs to find homes for.

    Written by Doris Meixner – Owner of Chameleon Hill

  • Our Cat

    Tom2 – As the name suggests, he is the second Tom to make his home at Chameleon Hill. Tom number 1, another SPCA graduate, crossed the rainbow bridge after 2 years of luxurious lodge life; we believe it was old age as he passed away peacefully in his sleep one evening. We soon realised that the lodge was just not the same without a cat and were certain that another visit to the SPCA would solve our problem. It certainly did and was soon introducing beautiful Tom2 to his new home. He was not over the moon about his fellow 4 legged house mates though and almost as soon as he arrived, decided to make our storage room his domain. He spends the whole day in his bed up on the highest shelf and when not sleeping, he is busy observing all the comings and goings from his throne! The love of his life is Gilbert, our accountant who, wanting to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the lodge has now converted part of the storage room into his very own office! Gilbert and Tom2 make the perfect ‘room mates’ and one can often find Tommy sleeping on Gilbert’s desk or on his lap … they really are the dream-team! If you would like to visit Tommy, he is always available for a free cuddle. Just talk to any team member and we can arrange a meeting!

    Written by Doris Meixner – Owner of Chameleon Hill

  • Our Rabbits

    On 31st December 2014, I was driving through the nearby village when I suddenly saw a woman holding a skinny rabbit by its ears by the roadside to be sold for New Year’s Eve Dinner. Being an animal lover, I just hit the brakes, jumped out of the car and bought the rabbit. In Germany they call that day “Silvester”, so choosing a name for him was not difficult. Charles, the assistant manager, volunteered to fatten him up in his room, while the maintenance team Steve & Seville built a free range enclosure for him. The team asked how much I had paid for the rabbit and as suspected, it was far too much. So the chef silently went back the next day and told the woman that she had overcharged me and that he wants another rabbit to make up for this. He came back with our second rabbit. As my philosophy is not to eat rabbits, but to avoid them breeding and ending up with too many, I asked the local vet to sterilise Silvester as soon as he was big and strong. However, we had underestimated the dynamics of rabbits… The new edition was a female rabbit and already pregnant, she soon had 3 beautiful babies. As soon as they were big enough to see if they were boys or girls, we separated them and had the boys sterilised. Our rabbits have a huge enclosure and have dug many tunnels and holes and are truly living in ‘Bunnie heaven’.

    Written by Doris Meixner – Owner of Chameleon Hill

  • Our Pigs

    I have always loved pigs. For me they are the funniest, cutest animals ever! What’s more they are known to be extremely intelligent, apparently same as a 4 year old child? I guess most pigs are born to be eaten and have to admit, I am no exception as I also eat meat (I am a hopeless case and have failed countless times trying to be a vegetarian). BUT, I always dreamed of one day creating an animal sanctuary and after learning that my Chameleon Hill family is just as animal mad as I am and with all the land available surrounding the lodge, I thought this might be the ideal time to make my dream come true. We discussed the idea as a team and the staff assured me, they would look after them even if I was not around. We spoke to some locals and soon we found that one neighbour had a pig that had just had piglets. I went to visit and chose 2 babies: Yolande, the girl, was the smallest of all of them and constantly being pushed around and PigCasso, the boy, was the only pink pig amongst only black ones. We immediately started constructing a luxury pigs villa, which consisted of a big garden with a wooden house for shelter. The house is on stilts so the pigs can cool down in the shade underneath. Of course there is enough roaming space to dig and roll in the mud and soil with the highlight being their very own swimming pool… the perfect place to be on a hot day! When the pigs reached the age of 8 months we decided to sterilise PigCasso. However, when the vet arrived, he told us that the boy is too big for him to be sterilised in the field. So the only solution was to separate them. This meant us constructing a second pigs villa very similar to the first one. We separated Yolande and her brother and decided to get another two more piggies, so that they are not lonely. This is when Ms. Piggy and Schweinsteiger joined the family… the cutest little pigs ever. They joined their bigger buddies who were very excited to share their homes (and pool) to live there happily ever after. Meanwhile we have since constructed footpaths for our guests who would like to meet our pigs. Should you plan to go visit them, let us know, as we always have special treats you can take with to win their hearts. I think those must be the happiest pigs in Uganda…

    Written by Doris Meixner – Owner of Chameleon Hill

  • Our Chickens

    Yes, we love chickens, too … not to mention also serving you their fresh eggs. Please note, Ugandan eggs have a whitish yolk. This is normal and just as tasty as the dark yellow one known to many of us. Our chickens roam freely on the property, they will come visit you in your gardens, in the lounge and one of their favourite places is the reception. From here they can check out the office and make sure everybody is working hard! We do not eat our chickens and to make sure the population stays under control, we only have one (very happy) rooster and we make sure we take the eggs away before they are fertilized. Like many of the animals at the lodge – our rooster also has a story to tell. He was born on the property and one day the staff witnessed a raptor picking up this newly born chick. On taking off, the staff member’s screams must have given the raptor such a freight, that he dropped the baby into the bushes. Our kitchen fairy Annett picked him up and nurtured him back to health. Now he can enjoy his days as King of the Chameleon Hill chicken kingdom with many queens and princesses.

    Written by Doris Meixner – Owner of Chameleon Hill

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