Pablo Escobar’s Escaped ‘Cocaine Hippos’ To Be Culled To Stop Reproduction

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 18 Jan 2021 19:14
Pablo Escobar's Escaped 'Cocaine Hippos' To Be Culled To Stop ReproductionPA Images

‘Cocaine hippos’ once owned by drug lord Pablo Escobar are reportedly taking over Colombia’s marshlands.

As a consequence, some people are calling for a cull of the large animals before they dramatically damage the country’s ecosystems.


The hippos, which are typically located in Africa, were illegally imported by Escobar before his death in 1993 and, 28 years on, they are still rapidly breeding.

If their breeding continues at the current rate, their population in Colombia may reach ‘dangerous numbers’ within the next two decades.


Discussing the matter of having the cull the hippos, ecologist Nataly Castelblanco-Martínez said to The Telegraph:


Nobody likes the idea of shooting a hippo, but we have to accept that no other strategy is going to work. Relocation might have been possible 30 years ago, when there were only four hippos. […] Castration could also have been effective if officials had provided sufficient resources for the program early on, but a cull is now the only option.

After being killed in 1993, Escobar’s 7,000-acre estate was taken over by the authorities, including his own personal zoo.

While the authorities managed to rehome most of his animals, four of the hippos escaped and – as there are no predators for the animals in Colombia – have managed to create between 80-100 descendants, reported Complex. The large number of hippos are said to be ‘terrorising the country’s lakes and rivers’.


If the cull does not take place, scientists predict the hippo population in the country could hit 1,500 in just three years’ time.

The main concern surrounding the hippos is their urine and faeces which are reportedly toxic and can make other species, and even humans, sick. They’re also affecting Colombia’s natural wildlife.

With this in mind, the government are now rushing to castrate the large animals in a bid to stop them breeding – possibly preventing the need of a cull.

David Echeverri Lopez, a government environmentalist, said, ‘These hippos have become part of the local identity. But time is running out.’


Hippos are classed as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List, so the Colombian government may receive some pushback if they plan on going through with the cull.

Some of the threats hippos face include droughts caused by global warming; habitat loss; illegal and unregulated hunting for meat and ivory and agricultural development.

As it stands, IUCN’s most recent assessment reported that that there are around 115,000-130,000 common hippos in existence worldwide.


If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

Most Read StoriesMost Read

Film and TV

Dog The Bounty Hunter Joins Hunt For Brian Laundrie

Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Animals, Colombia, Now


Complex and 2 others
  1. Complex

    Pablo Escobar’s ‘Cocaine Hippos’ Are Taking Over Colombia: ‘A Cull Is Now the Only Option’

  2. The Telegraph

    Colombia's rapidly breeding 'cocaine hippos' must be stopped, scientists say

  3. IUCN Red List