The late drug baron had a herd of hippopotami that are creating chaos like never before. Pablo Escobar’s pet hippos got scattered across the countryside thereby scaring the locals
A decade after his death, the people in Colombia started making reports to the authorities regarding the dangerous hippos turning up at every corner.
"They found a creature in a river that they had never seen before, with small ears and a really big mouth," recalls Carlos Valderrama, from the charity Webconserva.
Basically, the hippo belongs to Africa. It is a native of the Dark Continent. But, imagine the surprise and shock the Colombians felt when they saw these strange beasts roaming freely in the region. It was a legacy of the drug baron who had long since passed away.
The people fishing in the rivers were flabbergasted and asked how such an ugly and gargantuan animal could have ended up in Colombia. The drug baron was the ultimate answer to this question.
"The fishermen, they were all saying, 'How come there's a hippo here?'" Valderrama recalls. "We started asking around and of course they were all coming from Hacienda Napoles. Everything happened because of the whim of a villain."
Hacienda Napoles was the large estate owned by Pablo Escobar. Here he constructed zoological gardens upon making it big as a drug racketeer. This was before he started ordering the murders and bomb blasts which would destabilize Colombia forever.
The drug king had pachyderms and giraffes and hippos brought in for the zoo he had made for himself. He allowed the common folks to come and visit the zoo by the busloads.
Meanwhile, his business of shipping cocaine to the United States went on uninterrupted. The theme park of sorts only increased Pablo’s popularity.
When his estate was dismantled in the 90s, all the animals were sent to various other zoos. But the hippos wee neglected and they continued to multiply in their pools of muddy water.
Now many of them have ventured out into the countryside and they are fully grown and a source of danger to the crops, domestic animals and people as well.
"It's just like this crazy wildlife experiment that we're left with," says San Diego University ecologist Rebecca Lewison. "Gosh! I hope this goes well."
While baby hippos may not be much of a hazard, the adult variety is deadly. Capturing them and relocating them seems the only option left.