Drug Lord's Escaped Hippos Are Causing Chaos In Colombia


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockJul 10 2016, 15:08 UTC
Pablo's Mugshot taken in 1977. Colombia National Registry; Colombian National Police. Public Domain

Pablo Escobar left a bloody trail of cocaine throughout the eighties until the years of cat-and-mouse with international police teams finally climaxed with a fatal gun battle in 1993. Other than his lasting reputation as the “king of cocaine,” the Colombia drug lord has left another legacy: pet hippos


During the rise of his drug-trafficking empire, Escobar bought four hippopotamuses from a zoo in California to keep on his estate near the village of Doradal, Colombia. Now, some 23 years on, Pablo's hippo gang is thought to have boomed to at least 35, AFP recently reports. The original foursome have bred to become what's said to be the biggest wild hippo herd outside of their native Africa.

The people of Doradal aren’t too pleased and authorities have stepped in to try and contain them.

So far nobody has been attacked by the hippopotamuses, which comes as a relief considering their aggressive temperament. However, current fears are more centred on the hippo's threat to the local environment.

A group of hippopotamuses in Kenya (unaffiliated with the cocaine trade). Image credit: Volodymyr Burdiak/Shutterstock


"If they get aggressive they pose a risk to Colombian biodiversity. They could displace native fauna," David Echeverri Lopez, a biologist from the regional environmental corporation, told AFP.

"It is an invasive species and very resistant to everything. They carry diseases that can kill livestock. They pollute the water courses where they defecate."

Four of the male hippos have had a vasectomy to prevent them from breeding. There’s also plans to build barriers out of rocks and trees to prevent them from wandering too far, particularly towards the nearby villages and towns.


In a twist of irony, the local environmental agency annual budget is largely funded by loot seized from drug gangs.

  • cocaine,

  • wildlife,

  • drugs,

  • hippo,

  • invasive species,

  • Columbia,

  • hippopotamuses,

  • Palbo Escobar