Territorial Hippos Are Invading An Entire Ranch With No Way To Remove Them

Four hippos brought into Colombia by Pablo Escobar have turned into a herd that has proven hard to contain for local wildlife authorities.

By Tiffany Velasquez | Updated


During Pablo Escobar’s reign as a drug lord or a philanthropist, depending on who you ask, he imported four African hippos to Colombia. Escobar built a private zoo on his Colombian hacienda that included many wildlife species not native to the country, like giraffe, zebra, elephant, and more. A family of hippopotami descended from the original hippos that Escobar housed on his expansive estate remains today.

Pablo Escobar spared no expense in creating his own Colombian Oasis. Not only did his property contain a private zoo housing hippos and more, but the property also included man-made lakes, a Spanish-style mansion, gardens, pools, a racetrack, and more. Then and now, many people visit the property and legacy left behind by a man who has notably carved out his place in history.

On December 3, 1993, Colombian officials shot and killed Pablo Escobar, leaving behind a wife, children, an extended family, a community, estates, exotic animals, and more. Hacienda Napoles, the estate where the zoo was contained, went into possession of the Colombian government.

The government quickly realized that they could not care for the animals at the zoo, and most of the animals he maintained on his property were relocated. Many animals ended up at other zoos or animal care facilities, but the hippos remained. The original four hippos were hard to capture and, at some point, escaped the property and mixed with local wildlife, multiplying rapidly.

Every hippo alive in Colombia today, with an estimated population of 130 to 150, is a descendant of the original four brought into the country by Pablo Escobar. The animals do not have a natural predator in Colombia, therefore posing a significant risk of growing even more prominent in population and disrupting local ecosystems. The African hippos are also an aggressive mammal species that could, if provoked, attack humans that come to visit the estate.

The estate left behind by the late Pablo Escobar is currently operating as a family theme park attraction that anyone who desires can visit. Like it initially did, the property contains a zoo and more, including but not limited to a butterfly farm, museum, and a waterpark. Signs have been placed throughout the property giving warning of the hippo population and aggression.

The hippo herd freely roams the area, including the estate and beyond. The locals have even come to admire and respect the population, which is a reason why there has been no push to contain the herd. However, AP news reported that the government has been formulating a plan for the last year to transfer around 70 of the animals to other locations.

Though it doesn’t appear like a formal plan has been revealed, this task may be easier said than done. The hippos can weigh close to 10,000 pounds and are one of the top largest land animals in the world, next to elephants. However hard a task, India and Mexico have stood up to relocate part of the herd.

A sanctuary in India has offered to pay for containing and airlifting up to 60 hippos. The rest of the herd would be located at different facilities throughout Mexico. The local environmental authority controls the hippo relocation; now, they just have to catch them.