Drug kingpin Pablo Escobar’s hippos causing trouble in Colombia
Pablo Escobar's former hippos are causing trouble in Colombia.(IVAN VALENCIA/AP)
Nobody wants to play with these hungry hungry hippos.
Former drug kingpin Pablo Escobar’s mammoth menagerie is wreaking havoc in Colombia and officials are stumped as to how to solve the problem.
Despite being dead since 1993, the Medellin Cartel leader’s four beasts of the southern wild continue to thrive — and populate exponentially, reported Deutsche Welle.
The semiaquatic animals have multiplied to between 65 and 80, according to an environmental agency. And a recent study suggests that number could expand upward to 150 by 2030.
Before he was gunned down, Escobar had constructed a zoo on his enormous, 3,953-acre Hacienda Napoles ranch, which fell to ruin soon after.
Most of the hippos reside in Hacienda Napoles’ large lake, which allows them to loll during daytime hours and then wander ashore after the sun goes down.
In addition to the hippos — which were flown over from Africa — the zoo also was home to exotic birds, ostriches, giraffes, antelope and elephants. While the animals were transported to new homes after Escobar’s demise, no zoos were willing to accept the aggressive hippos, which can weigh up to 4,000 pounds apiece.
In their natural African habitat, the hippopotamus population is stabilized by seasonal droughts, which limit their food and territory. But in their more verdant Colombian environs, they thrive unchecked.
Hippos also have no natural predators; although, there have been jaguar sightings near the estate. But they’re far too small to attack the hippos.
“A jaguar is our biggest predator,” said Carlos Valderrama, a veterinarian for environmental group WebConserva. “It’s huge; it’s beautiful, but it is (220 pounds). It is not going to be able to do anything against a grown hippo.”
Valderrama also performed a surgical castration on one of the wild hippos — believed to the first ever, according to Deutsche Welle.
But the most dangerous reason for the hippos’ presence isn’t their potential to attack humans but their dung, which is overfertilizing rivers.
“There is an overload of organic matter and a huge abundance of bacteria consuming that,” explained University of California San Diego biology professor Jonathan Shurin. “And then those bacteria can drive the oxygen levels really low and cause fish mortality and (damaging) algae blooms.”