The hippopotamus is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, inhabiting rivers, lakes and mangrove swamps. It can be found from Sudan and Ethiopia in the North, to South Africa in the South, to Gambia in the west.
Oh, and a single herd of wild hippos can also be found in the South American nation of Colombia.
While hippos, which can weigh up to 6,000 pounds, enjoy the water, this particular group of 40 beasts didn’t swim across the Atlantic Ocean and colonize the New World on its own.
They are actually the handiwork of the late Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, who was gunned down in 1993.
Escobar once lived in a sprawling estate known as Hacienda Nápoles, which included many lakes.
Among myriad items he spent his ill-gotten gains on were exotic animals, including four hippos he had imported, according to Slate magazine.
After Escobar was killed by Colombian police his retreat became dilapidated.
Among other things, the four hippos escaped and the today the herd is estimated to number more than three dozen.
It is ruled by an alpha male named, ironically, Pablo, according to Slate.
Hippopotamus amphibius’s first wild foray in South America hasn’t been without difficulties.
In 2009 an aggressive hippo named Pepe was found more than 60 miles away from Hacienda Nápoles, and had to be killed by the Colombian military, the magazine added.
I can’t say I’ve ever had a real itch to travel to Colombia before but if the locals there could round up this herd of scofflaws and put them in an area where folks could get a glimpse, I might change my mind.
Nothing piques the interest like a band of rogue mammals, right?