Colombia Prepares to Sterilize Pablo Escobar's "Cocaine Hippos"

Inside Hook

What happens when a prominent drug trafficker buys an abundance of hippopotamuses for his private zoo? In the case of the beasts purchased by Pablo Escobar during the height of his infamy, you end up with the creatures that have become known as “cocaine hippos.” And while Escobar himself is long dead, his hippos live on — to the frustration of some environmental activists in Colombia.

The hippos have long since left Escobar’s zoo behind. According to a report released earlier this year, their population has continued to grow — as has their impact on their habitat. It’s a situation that led some scientists to advocate culling the hippopotamus population.

Now, The Guardian reports that a different approach to managing the hippo population has been selected. Colombia’s department of wildlife services is sterilizing the dozens of hippos currently living in the wild — a population that the article estimates as being around 80.

As of this week, 24 of the hippos have been sterilized. In the article, The Guardian‘s Edward Helmore cites biologist Enrique Zerda Ordóñez, who argued that “sterilizing a hippo is no easy task.” It’s worth mentioning here that hippos kill hundreds of people each year — making the task given to those working on the project more dangerous than it might seem.