The drug lord, his hippos and opportunity


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?


5 thoughts on “The drug lord, his hippos and opportunity

  1. I can just imagine the conversation just before the hippos were ordered.
    “Hmmmm, dogs, cats, budgies, horses… got ’em all. What do you think I should get next?”
    “Well, there is that lake down the back of the garden that is pretty empty, what about some fish?”
    “Boring!… Hang on. I’ve got an idea!”

    Hippos are pretty dangerous, I wonder if they were employed to dispose of any of Escobar’s enemies?

    • I like your hypothetical for how they came up with the idea. When you’ve got more money than most African nations, you probably start to run out of things to do with it. Heck, I’d buy myself a couple of hippos if I could afford it. And monkeys – lots of monkeys.

      As for using hippos as a form of “disposition,” I don’t know – seems like kind of an iffy way to off somebody. You’ve got to get them down to the pond, which means someone’s got to take them there and hold them there, then you’ve got to get the hippo’s attention and get him riled up enough so he attacks. I’m sure it was easier just to blast them in the back of the head.

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