Pablo Escobar’s hippos are now ATTACKING people in Colombia: Drug kingpin’s four pets have multiplied into 200-strong herd that dominates the nation’s largest river
Descendants of illegal hippos imported to Colombia by Pablo Escobar in the 1980s have multiplied and started attacking people.
The manatees, which have spread from the king’s private zoo to nearby rivers where they have thrived, have no natural predators in the country and have been declared an invasive species that threatens the ecosystem.
Hacienda Nápoles became a tourist attraction after his death in 1993. Most of the animals live freely in rivers and reproduce without control, leading Colombia’s Ministry of the Environment to begin sterilizing them in November.
‘They are very, very dangerous. The hippos started attacking people,” one local told Fox News.
Others branded the species ‘unpredictable’ and ‘aggressive’ and said the best course of action if you encounter one is to simply hide.
A handout from the Colombian government shows the $10,000 sterilization of a male hippopotamus in progress
Hippos float in a lagoon in Hacienda Napoles park in November 2013. The Colombian government announced a plan on Thursday aimed at controlling the population, which has grown to 169 and could swell to 1,000 by 2035 unless action is taken become
Pablo Escobar set up his own personal zoo at his Hacienda Napoles estate in the 1980s when he went out and bought 1,900 exotic and wild animals from a zoo in Dallas. The collection included four manatees, which has grown to 169 today
Meanwhile, Colombian Environment Minister Susana Muhamad told the New York Times: ‘We are in a race against time in terms of permanent environmental and ecosystem impacts’.
Two male hippos and one female underwent surgical sterilization in November, environmental authorities said.
It is part of a larger government effort to control the population of 169 of the mammals that roam unattended in some rivers.
The plan includes the sterilization of 40 hippos per year, transfer of some of them to other countries and possibly euthanasia.
Sterilization takes time because spotting and catching the territorial, aggressive three-ton animals is complicated, David Echeverry López, head of the environmental office in charge of the plan, said in a video distributed to the press .
Rain events around the area have complicated efforts to capture the animals. More grass means “they have an oversupply of food, so baiting them to catch them becomes even more complicated,” Echeverry said.
The government estimates that there are 169 manatees in Colombia, especially in the Magdalena River basin, and that if no measures are taken, there could be 1,000 by 2035.
When the plan was first announced, the environment ministry said the procedure was expensive – each sterilization costs about $9,800 – and carried risks for the hippo, including allergic reactions to anesthesia or death, as well as risks for the animal health staff.
Colombian soldiers stand at the entrance to Hacienda Napoles, the estate built by Pablo Escobar that once had his own personal zoo
Pablo Escobar became interested in having his own zoo at his estate after noticing the herd of exotic and wild animals that fellow Medellín cartel leaders Fabio Ochoa, Juan Ochoa and Jorge Ochoa had at their estate
Nataly Castblanco-Martínez, an ecologist at the University of Quintana Roo in Mexico and who was the lead author of a group study in 2021, told AP at the time that the manatee crisis was “one of the biggest invasive species challenges in the world.” ‘
They suggested that some of the animals should be killed.
Experts said that neutering the hippos may not be enough to stop their growth. In March, the government announced a plan to transfer some of the animals to the Philippines, Mexico and India, where 60 would be sent.
“We are working on the protocol for exporting the animals,” Muhammad said. ‘We are not going to export a single animal if there is no authorization from the environmental authority of the other country.’
Escobar set up his own zoo at Hacienda Napoles with his fortune from the transnational drug trafficking organization.
Puerto Triunfo local officials shut down its plans for a city zoo because there was already one in Medellín, according to the book ‘Pablo Escobar, my father’ written by his only son Juan Pablo Escobar.
The feared drug kingpin was also interested in creating his own zoo after noticing that fellow partners and cartel leaders Fabio Ochoa, Juan Ochoa and Jorge Ochoa had a collection of exotic animals at their own estate.
So, the Medellín cartel boss went out and bought a collection of 1,900 exotic and wild animals from a zoo in Dallas for $2 million.
The capo became bothered by the fact that there was only one manatee – a male – and told a henchman he needed more.
“You have to buy a hippo because Noah’s Ark is rocking,” Pablo Escobar said. ‘Call Miami and ask them to send me a wife on a plane right now
The zoo’s hippo collection has grown to four, including three females,
Some of the animals were transferred to zoos after Escobar’s death in 1993, while others escaped and multiplied.