Cocaine king Pablo Escobar’s herd of hippos are sterilised to end their existence in Colombia over fears they are harming ecosystem
- The infamous ‘cocaine hippos’ bought for Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar were illegally imported for his private zoo
- Since his death in 1993, they have prospered in the countryside near his former range because they encounter no natural predators
- Officials have sterilised 24 of more than 80 animals, and when the project is complete the hippos will die out naturally
The infamous ‘cocaine hippos’ bought for Colombia drug lord Pablo Escobar are being sterilised to end their presence in the country.
The hippos were illegally imported for Escobar’s private zoo and since his death in 1993 have prospered in the countryside near his former ranch because they encounter no natural predators.
Officials have now managed to sterilise 24 of more than 80 animals. When the project is complete, the hippos will die out naturally.
Hippos at a care centre in Doradal, northeast of Bogota in Colombia
Before Pablo Escobar was shot dead by police, he had purchased a number of exotic animals to live on his range, including flamingos, giraffes, zebras and kangaroos
Escobar led the Medellin cartel in the 1980s which was behind countless killings.
Before he was shot dead by police, the notorious Escobar had purchased a number of exotic animals to live on his ranch, including flamingos, giraffes, zebras and kangaroos.
After his death, all but the hippopotamuses were sold to zoos.
Escobar originally acquired a single male and female hippos.
On the former range of late drug lord Pablo Escobar, 24 out of 80 hippos were sterilised due to the ‘uncontrolled growth’ of this ‘invasive’ species
An expert prepares a dart to put hippos to sleep in order to sterilise them at a care centre in Doradal, Colombia
They were left to roam on his Hacienda Napoles estate, which has since been converted into a theme park, as they were considered too large to try to move, but since then their numbers have multiplied.
The hippos were shot with darts to inject them with a medicine called GonaCon, according to a bulletin by Cornare, a regional environmental protection organization in the northwest of Colombia.
“It’s a contraceptive that is effective in males and females” and cheaper than surgical sterilization, said Cornare.
“However, it’s complicated because experts suggest giving three doses.”
Another 11 hippos were previously sterilized by more traditional means.
Experts believe this to be the largest herd of hippopotamuses outside of Africa and it has led to problems.
“The presence of these animals in an ecosystem that is not their own, brings consequences such as the displacement of local fauna,” said David Echeverri, a Cornare expert quoted in the bulletin.
The hippos are also responsible for “changing ecosystems” and attacks on local fishermen.
Escobar became one of the richest men on the planet, according to Forbes, thanks to the drug trafficking empire he built.
Almost 30 years since his death, Colombia remains the largest producer of cocaine in the world, much of it smuggled to the United States.