Drug Lord's Hippos Breeding Out of Control
Pablo Escobar's foreign beasts terrifying fisherman, eating crops
By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2014 8:18 AM CDT
Updated Jun 29, 2014 11:01 AM CDT
In this image released on Thursday, August 1, 2013, two hippopotamus are fighting in the Rutchuru river, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo.   (naturepl.com/Jabruson/WWF-Canon via AP Images)

(Newser) – Colombia is facing an overpopulation issue: a famed drug lord's herd of hippos keeps expanding. Pablo Escobar built himself a zoo in the 1980s, smuggling in a host of exotic animals, including one male and three female hippos. Now, 20 years after the drug boss's death, the hippos have found a welcoming climate—free of the drought that helps curb herd size in Africa—and apparently an appetite for sex. Estimates say there are now between 50 and 60 hippos (in 2006, the LAT pegged their population at 16), most living in one of 12 man-made lakes at Escobar's former ranch. But a dozen have been confirmed as having broken away and into the nearby Magdalena River, meaning there could be many more; in 2009, one hippo was located 62 miles away.

While hippos in Africa tend to become sexually active as early as age seven for males and nine for females, the hippos in Colombia are breeding as early as three, the BBC reports. "It's just like this crazy wildlife experiment that we're left with," says a San Diego University ecologist. "Gosh! I hope this goes well." So far, it doesn't seem to be. The beasts are terrifying fishermen, wreaking havoc on crops, and even crushing small cows. They can't be moved back to Africa due to the possibility they carry disease, zoos aren't interested in the adults, a reserve with hippo-proof fences would cost about $500,000, and castration would be expensive and risky for both the vets and the creatures, who the ecologist notes are highly sensitive to sedation. So how would a biologist working in the Amazon region solve the issue? "I think they should barbecue them and eat them," he says. He isn't kidding.

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Sep 7, 2015 1:32 AM CDT
Now let me get this straight... Colombia had no problem hunting down and shooting Pablo Escobar but they get all squeamish when it comes to hunting down and shooting his former pets? They're not afraid of FARC and ELN but they're afraid of PETA?! HIPPOS DO NOT BELONG IN SOUTH AMERICA. Period. Full stop. Hippos are dangerous. Annually, they kill more people than any other wild animal. What to do? You take a big gun and you bust a cap in their asses. Problem solved. Why are the Colombians (of all people!) having an attack of the wussies over THIS?
Jun 30, 2014 11:56 AM CDT
Shoot them, process them and feed someone hungry. Problem solved and I won't charge you for the solution. You could send me a hippo burger though...I bet they are tasty!
Jun 30, 2014 10:42 AM CDT
kill them off. Or leave it be and let future generations deal with them, yeah that's the ticket!