The Accidental Toad Smuggler of Germany


Every now and again you hear a wildlife story that not only makes you laugh out loud, but makes you admire both nature… and humanity. Here is one such story; as told to us by a wonderful sanctuary volunteer, Jennifer Wiegard, and her friend Simba the Toad.


It all starts at the Trading Post, where the Kevin Richardson Wildlife Volunteers make a home for the period of their stay. As the autumn nights grew chilly, Jennifer noticed a small toad or two taking up residence inside her favourite work boots. “They were always sleeping in my shoes” Jennifer recalls, “So I decided to put the shoes on top of one of the walls outside because I felt sorry for them and didn’t want to throw them out of their nice little homes”. Thinking the wall too high for them to continue camping out in her boots, on Jennifer’s last day at the camp she packed up and said goodbye to her new friends. 

Upon arriving home in Germany the boots went straight into the washing machine along with the rest of her travel clothes. “To my absolute surprise when I pulled my clothes out of the washing machine… out hopped a toad! As if two international flights and a cycle in the washing machine wasn’t enough, my curious cat Maja caught it!”

Jennifer was quick to the rescue and managed to save the small globe-trotting amphibian from the clutches of her cat and make a temporary home for it in a bucket.

Jennifer setting out food for the leopards
Maya keenly searching for more toads

“I knew I couldn’t keep my foreign friend because of my two cats, and I didn’t want to release him/her into Germany’s cold outdoors… you shouldn’t put an animal in a foreign eco system.” Jennifer made some calls and finally Aquazoo in Düsseldorf agreed to give the African toad a forever home. Jennifer happily explained “I named it Simba because he/she came from where the lions are.” We all agree… one should never forget where they came from!

A few weeks ago Aquazoo Düsseldorf posted the story on Facebook and it went viral – with the German media picking up on the amazing story of the German volunteer accidentally smuggling an African toad abroad. Jennifer concludes, “I am very sorry for what I did to the little toad and I am very happy that it survived the whole torture and is doing well now. To all departing volunteers – please remember to have a look in your shoes before packing up to leave the sanctuary!”

Simba the toad

We wish Simba a long and healthy life in Germany!

We also thank Jennifer for being such a superstar… not only was she kind enough to let the toads keep warm in her shoes, but she went to a great effort to make sure Simba found an appropriate home after all the drama.  She is now Simba’s official sponsor for his stay at the zoo.  It is clear that Jennifer has the same respect for the smallest of animals, as she does for the big African cats that she loves so much.

To learn more about the Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary volunteer programme please email