TIME World

Pablo Escobar’s Hippos Are Running Wild In Colombia

Hungry, hungry hippos?

Pablo Escobar was one of the most menacing and wealthy criminals the world’s ever known: At the peak of his power in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Escobar’s cartel brought in around $60 million every day. With the money he earned—in 1989, Forbes estimated his net worth at around $3 billion—Escobar created a luxurious estate, Hacienda Nápoles, on about 7.7 sq. miles of land 200 miles north of Bogotá, Colombia.

Nowadays, Nápoles is a theme park; after Escobar’s death the government expropriated the land, which housed, among various other luxuries, a private zoo with exotic animals. Because the cost of maintenance was too steep for the Colombian government to reasonably manage, they decided to disperse the animals to zoos around the country. The illegally-smuggled hippopotamuses, however, remained.

Over the years those hippos have multiplied in the idyllic conditions the region provides, and they’ve been sighted as far as 155 miles away from Nápoles. This is a problem: Despite their blobby appearance, adult hippos are hugely dangerous. In fact, they’re the most dangerous wild mammals in the world, killing around 500 people per year. For Colombia, it’s a time bomb. So what’s to be done?

There are a few possible solutions, enumerated by William Kremer over at the BBC: relocation, captivity, castration, and having the locals eat them. It’s a knotty problem, one that Kremer says “in some ways resembles the complex attitude Colombians had towards Pablo Escobar himself.”

Tap to read full story

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team