“Happy Hippo” is a photo-filled children's book that tells the story of an orphaned baby female hippopotamus named Billy, who was rescued and cared for by Sheila and Dave Siddle, a couple who raised her as part of their family at their Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage, an animal sanctuary primarily for chimpanzees in central Zambia. “Kids and most people love animals, and everyone seems to love hippos. The fact that this is a true story makes it more fun and incredible,” says Jackie Hanrahan, one of the book's co-authors.
New Yorker Hanrahan, an avid traveler, met the woman who would become her co-author on her first visit to Chimfunshi 19 years ago and stayed in touch, returning often. Shelia Siddle wrote a version of the book years ago, published in Zambia, but the original file was destroyed, and Hanrahan offered to create a new version and get it published in the States, with added content like facts and a coloring page. For every book sold, Siddle donates an an additional copy to local children in Zambia.
Appropriate for kids 5 years old and up, “it’s wonderful story for all ages that will make you laugh, smile and most important, care,” says Hanrahan. “If you were a fan of ‘Owen & Mzee’—about another baby hippo and its friendship with a tortoise —you will love, ‘Happy Hippo’ Billy,” she promises. “By sharing Billy’s story, my goal is to encourage children to discover, appreciate, and take care of their world by introducing them to animals at Chimfunshi,” she adds.