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Colombia to relocate Pablo Escobar’s ‘cocaine hippos’ because they won’t stop breeding

FILE: Hippos float in lake near Pablo Escobar’s former ranch (AP)
FILE: Hippos float in lake near Pablo Escobar’s former ranch (AP)

Colombia has proposed moving at least 70 of Pablo Escobar’s ‘cocaine hippos’ that live near his former ranch because they won’t stop multiplying.

The hippopotamuses are descendants of four imported from Africa illegally by the now-deceased drug lord in the 1980s.

Under the plans, the hippos - which weigh up to three tons - would be taken to India and Mexico to control their population.

The hippos have spread far beyond the Hacienda Nápoles ranch, located 200 kilometres from Bogotá along the Magdalena River, with experts estimating their population could reach 400 in eight years.

Escobar’s former ranch and the hippos have attracted tourists since his killing by police in 1993.

The hippos do not have a natural predator in Colombia and are a potential problem for biodiversity. They were declared a toxic invasive species last year.

Pablo Escobar (AFP/Getty Images)
Pablo Escobar (AFP/Getty Images)

The hippos would be lured with food into large, iron containers and transferred by truck to the international airport in the city of Rionegro, 150 kilometres away.

From there, they would be flown to India and Mexico, where there are sanctuaries and zoos capable of taking in and caring for the animals.

“It is possible to do, we already have experience relocating hippos in zoos nationwide," said David Echeverri López, a spokesman for Cornare, the local environmental authority that would be in charge of the relocations.

The plan is to send 60 hippos to the Greens Zoological Rescue & Rehabilitation Kingdom in Gujarat, India.

Another ten hippos would go to zoos and sanctuaries in Mexico such as the Ostok, located in Sinaloa.

The plan is to focus on the hippos living in the rivers surrounding the Hacienda Napoles ranch, not the ones inside the ranch, as they are controlled.

Ecuador, the Philippines and Botswana have also expressed their willingness to relocate Colombian hippos to their countries, according to the Governor’s Office in Antioquia state.