Hippos Owned by Pablo Escobar Will Be Sterilized to Slow Rapid Reproduction

by Michael Freeman

While population control with certain animals isn’t unordinary, this one has a bit of a twist. A herd of “cocaine hippos” from Pablo Escobar’s private zoo will be sterilized to slow their reproduction.

The Guardian reports a herd of hippopotamuses owned by the late drug lord Pablo Escobar in his private zoo is being sterilized. The country’s wildlife services decided to do this after discovering the 80 hippo herd possesses a potential environmental disaster. This danger comes from their reproduction rate coupled with them being invasive. Additionally, the hippos present a threat to humans.

Called “cocaine hippos,” their numbers more than doubled what they previously were in the last decade. Mexican and Columbian universities studied the creatures and found they bred so well they were slowly expanding their habitat. Because their territories keep expanding and they are so aggressive, they are considered invasive.

The Biological Conservation journal published the universities’ study, recommending a culling. However, other parties favored sterilization, bringing up animal rights concerns and the hippos even being a tourist attraction. A Columbia National University biologist, Enrique Zerda Ordóñez, says chemical castration is the only means to do so, but it won’t be easy.

Nonetheless, the Colombian government stated last week they sterilized 24 hippos so far. Besides the threats previously mentioned, the Biological Conservation study noted research saying hippo feces adversely affect oxygen levels in bodies of water. This can be a problem for fish, but also for humans. Besides that, the journal said the hippos can transfer diseases to humans.

With Covid being a big enough problem as is, the last thing we need is something from “cocaine hippos.”

How the ‘Cocaine Hippo’ Problem Occured

Pablo Escobar’s “cocaine hippos” didn’t begin doing this of their own volition, so how did this problem occur in the first place?

Back in June, we reported about Escobar’s hippos living in zoos across the country. Turns out they presented an issue in being too large to move, BBC said. Thinking the animals would die off on their own due to their small numbers, officials were incorrect. The opposite happened and the creatures thrived in their new habitat. With them weighing a massive 4,000 pounds and having no natural predators, they expanded. Researchers predict their numbers could jump from the current 80 to 1,400 by 2039 if left unchecked.

In the problem’s initial stages, officials sought to kill the beasts. Biologist Castelblanco-Martinez told VICE News about the unfortunate task. “For me, what is necessary here is to protect and preserve the integrity of our ecosystem over an exotic species…even if this exotic species is super charismatic and super cute.”

Luckily for the hippos, other parties later suggested sterilization, which led to what’s happening today.