Pablo Escobar, The notorious Columbia drug kingpin, was shot dead on a rooftop while trying to escape police in 1993. Now, sadly, his pet hippos, who he illegally imported to his personal zoo for over $7 million, are also facing death – Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to them trying to escape via rooftop. CBS reports that there are around 169 hippos in Columbia, mainly in the Magdalena River Basin. And to confirm, hippos are from Africa and definitely not native to South America. They expect the population to rise to over 1,000 by 2035, if nothing is done about them.
The “cocaine” hippos made headlines back in 2021, when some of them were sterilized and there was talk of euthanizing some of them. This led to animal rights groups seeking the hippos to be recognized with the same legal rights as people in a US court.
Now, in November 2023, the Columbia environment Minister Susana Muhamad says they plan to surgically sterilize 40 hippos per year to keep the population down. We imagine it’s a bit trickier than nurturing a cat, so we wish them the best of luck. Each sterilization costs around $9,800. They’re also looking at exporting the hippos to other countries. But these big boys and girls’ plane tickets have a staggering $3.5 million price tag!
Not only are hippos naturally dangerous to humans, they are also an invasive species in Colombia, disrupting both plant and animal life. And as their numbers continue to grow, so does their damage. Euthanizing some hippos is currently on the table, but we hope they’re able to control the situation and it doesn’t come to that. For our original story on the “cocaine hippos”, check out Pablo Escobar’s $5.3 million pet hippo cartel still run a Colombian town.