Colombian government to transfer 70 of Pablo Escobar's hippos

Seventy of Pablo Escobar’s ‘cocaine hippos’ are FINALLY being moved to zoos in India and Mexico after turning into one of the ‘world’s worst invasive species’ and terrorizing Colombians

  • The Colombian government will transfer 70 of Pablo Escobar’s hippopotamuses to a zoo in Mexico and another in India
  • The Medellín Cartel kingpin purchased four hippos – including three females – in the 1980s for his own zoo at his estate, Hacienda Napoles
  • The hippo population has grown to around 150, posing a threat to residents and the ecosystem in the central northwestern department of Antioquia 

The Colombian government is going ahead with plans to transfer 70 hippopotamuses that are descendants of the four that notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar purchased in the 1980s.

During a session with deputies from the central northwestern department of Antioquia on Wednesday, Governor Ánibal Gaviria said that at least 60 hippos would be moved to a zoo in India while the rest would be transferred over to another one in Mexico.

Zoos in Ecuador and Philippines have also expressed interest transferring over some of hippopotamuses.

Gaviria said the plan ‘required enormous diplomacy from a political, environmental and technical point of view.’

The Colombian government expects it will soon be able to transfer 70 hippos to zoos in Mexico and India. The government has combated a growing hippopotamuses population after Medellín Cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar purchased four hippos, including three females, in the 1980s for his own zoo at his Hacienda Napoles ranch

Pablo Escobar reported paid $2 million for a collection of exotic and wild animals that were kept at a zoo in Dallas and had them moved down to Colombia, where he set up his own zoo

Escobar used his massive cocaine fortune to set up his own zoo at his 7,400 acre Hacienda Napoles estate in the municipality of Puerto Triunfo because the government had told him that there was already a zoo in Medellín, according to the book ‘Pablo Escobar, my father,’ penned by his only son Juan Pablo Escobar.

The Medellín Cartel boss was also driven to have his own zoo after noticing that his associate and cartel co-founders Fabio Ochoa, Juan Ochoa and Jorge Ochoa had set up a park at their estate with their own flock of exotic animals.

Pablo Escobar went out and bought a collection of 1,900 exotic and wild animals from a zoo in Dallas for $2 million in cash. The first wave of animals arrived by boat from the United States, but most arrive sick because of the long trip. He then made sure that any animal being brought into Colombia was flown in.

While going through a list of the animals that were at the zoo, the notorious drug lord noticed that he only had one male hippopotamus and told one of his underlings that it wasn’t enough.

‘You have to buy a hippopotamus because Noah’s Ark is wobbling,’ Pablo Escobar said. ‘Call Miami and ask them to send me a female on a plane now.’

A veterinarian prepares a hippopotamus, known as “Orion,” for dental treatment at the Zoo Santa Fe in Medellín in 2010. The animal was born in the private Hacienda Napoles ranch which belonged to Pablo Escobar

Colombia military personnel guard the entrance to Pablo Escobar’s Hacienda Napoles ranch in 1989

Eventually, Escobar’s hippo collection grew to four, including three females.

Following his death, some of the hippopotamuses were transferred to zoos while the rest roamed the region and multiplied. Hacienda Napoles was converted into a ‘Jurrasic Park-style park’ in 2014. 

According to Colombian government figures, the hippo population has grown to at least 150 and has generated great concern for residents.

Luis Díaz recalled nearly being trampled and killed by a hippopotamus at his parents Puerto Triunfo farm in 2022, according to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.

A Colombian soldier stands guard in the pool area at Pablo Escobar’s Hacienda Napoles ranch in 1989

A visitor feeds a hippo at the Hacienda Napoles Park in February 2020

The 44-year-old recalled he was getting water from a spout when he noticed the animal’s large shadow and took off running.

The encounter left him in shock for two weeks.

‘I don’t know what happened,’ he said. ‘I lost consciousness … I didn’t know what had happened to me.’

The Colombian government stressed the removing the hippopotamuses from the Antionquia region will also help preserve the ecosystem.

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