There are over a hundred hippos in Colombia today. But hippos aren’t native to Colombia, so how did they get there? At the height of Pablo Escobar’s cocaine empire, Escobar spent the enormous profits from his business to build a private estate which includes man-made lakes, an airstrip, and a zoo. Escobar purchased exotic animals all over the world including zebras, giraffes, and hippos.
In 1993, Escobar was shot and killed by the Colombian Police. All his assets were seized and the animals from the Zoo were distributed to Zoos across Colombia. That is, except for the hippos. The hippos were too difficult to capture and transport so they were released in hopes that they would die off.
However, Colombia’s environment is perfect for hippos: it’s the right temperature, there’s food year round, and they have no natural predators. The hippos began to reproduce and disrupt the local ecosystem.
Their large heads, round body and short stubby legs may look cute legs but hippos are territorial and dangerous. Despite their odd stature, they can run faster than humans (up to 30mph) and are the world’s deadliest mammal.
Additonally, Colombia is rated as one of 12 megadiverse countries, only second to Brazil. It is said that Hippos are an invasive species that threaten this biodiversity.