Colombia begins sterilization of hippos descended from pets of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar

by Chloe Baker
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Escobar's hippos sterilization

Colombia has initiated the sterilization of hippos, which are descendants of animals that were illegally imported into the country by the late drug kingpin Pablo Escobar during the 1980s.

On Tuesday, environmental authorities carried out the surgical sterilization of two male hippos and one female, marking the beginning of a broader government initiative aimed at managing the population of over 100 of these creatures that currently roam freely and unsupervised in some of the country’s rivers.

This comprehensive plan involves the annual sterilization of 40 hippos, potential relocation to other countries, and even the consideration of euthanasia as measures to control the population. The hippos, having originated from Escobar’s estate and expanded into nearby rivers where they have thrived, face no natural predators in Colombia and have been labeled an invasive species that poses a potential threat to the local ecosystem.

The origin of this group of hippos can be traced back to the 1980s when they were brought to Hacienda Nápoles, Escobar’s private zoo, which subsequently became a tourist attraction following his demise in 1993. Many of these animals now live freely in rivers and reproduce without restraint.

Sterilization efforts are a challenging undertaking as identifying and capturing these territorial and aggressive 3-ton creatures is a complex task, as explained by David Echeverry López, the head of the environmental office overseeing the plan. Inclement weather conditions in the area have further complicated capture attempts. Increased vegetation growth due to rainfall has led to an abundance of food, making luring them with bait for capture even more challenging.

The government’s estimates indicate that there are currently 169 hippos in Colombia, primarily concentrated in the Magdalena River basin. Without intervention, it is projected that their population could surge to 1,000 by the year 2035.

It’s worth noting that this sterilization procedure is both costly, with each operation costing approximately $9,800, and carries inherent risks for the hippos, including potential allergic reactions to anesthesia or mortality, as well as risks for the healthcare personnel responsible for their well-being.

For more news about Latin America and the Caribbean, you can follow AP’s coverage at https://bigbignews.net/latin-america.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Escobar’s hippos sterilization

What is the reason for sterilizing Pablo Escobar’s hippos in Colombia?

The sterilization of hippos in Colombia is being carried out to control their invasive population, which poses a threat to the local ecosystem. These hippos, descendants of animals brought to Colombia by Pablo Escobar, have no natural predators and are multiplying rapidly, potentially reaching a population of 1,000 by 2035 if no action is taken.

How does sterilization help manage the hippo population?

Sterilization is one of the methods used to manage the hippo population. By surgically sterilizing these animals, they become incapable of reproduction, which helps curb their numbers over time. This is part of a larger government effort to reduce the population of over 100 hippos currently roaming unsupervised in Colombian rivers.

What are the other measures being considered to control the hippo population?

In addition to sterilization, the Colombian government is exploring other measures, including the possibility of relocating some hippos to other countries and even considering euthanasia as a last resort to manage the population. These actions are being taken due to the potential environmental impact of the hippos in Colombia.

What are the challenges in implementing sterilization?

Sterilizing hippos is a complex process. These creatures are large, territorial, and can be aggressive, making it challenging to locate and capture them for the procedure. Inclement weather conditions, such as increased rainfall leading to more vegetation growth, have further complicated capture efforts.

What are the risks associated with hippo sterilization?

Sterilization procedures come with risks, both for the hippos and the personnel involved. There is a potential for allergic reactions to anesthesia and even mortality during the surgery. Additionally, the healthcare personnel responsible for carrying out the sterilization procedures face inherent risks while working with these powerful animals.

More about Escobar’s hippos sterilization

  • “Colombia’s Escobar hippos face sterilization to curb population growth” – Link
  • “Pablo Escobar’s hippos: A growing problem in Colombia” – Link
  • “Colombia begins sterilization of hippos descended from pets of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar” – Link
  • “Efforts to control Colombia’s invasive hippo population” – Link

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