When Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar was gunned down in 1993, he left behind a palatial estate, and a few hippos. And now. the four hippopotamuses he brought to Colombia in the 1980s from New Orleans have flourished to a herd of 40. 

article-imageHippos swimming at Escobar’s estate in 2010 (photograph by user)

Escobar’s Hacienda Nápoles had everything a wildly wealthy cocaine kingpin could want, with a race track, multiple swimming pools, its own airport, a fleet of luxury cars, a bull ring, and even a zoo of exotic animals. These included elephants, ostriches, and giraffes along with the hippos, although when Escobar was killed almost all but the hippos were given to zoos around the world. The hippos with their bulky weight were just too difficult to move, but they were only going to get more difficult.

article-imageEntrance of Hacienda Nápoles in 2009 (via Wikimedia)

Left alone on the unmanaged estate, the hippos grew into a feral horde. As their numbers increased, they weren’t content to just lounge in the four lakes of the estate, but also wandered into rivers in the adjoining area. It turns out Colombia is great for hippos, what with the lush vegetation and the lack of natural predators. There they menaced local fishermen and area livestock, culminating in 2009 when three escaped and were hunted down after they were reportedly killing cows and attacking people. One ended up shot out in the open much like its master.

Their numbers now make them impossible to completely relocate, as it’s hard to get a zoo to take more than one hippo. So they continue to take over the estate, basking in the luxuries left behind by Escobar. 


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