Cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar’s legacy as a narcoterrorist has a bizarre side note to it that involves neither drugs nor murder. This one is all about hippopotamuses.

In the 1980s there were fewer people on the planet richer than the head of Colombia’s Medellin drug cartel, Pablo Escobar. At the time of his death during a gunfight with National Police in December of 1993, Escobar was reported to be worth approximately $55 billion after inflation. With that much cash on hand one of the more frivolous expenditures Escobar indulged in was a public safari located on his massive Hacienda Nápoles estate, fully stocked with illegally (of course) imported exotic animals. Along with ostriches, elephants, lions and giraffes, Escobar had four portly hippos shipped in from a zoo in California. Escobar and his estate are long gone now, but the hippos still remain.

Did You Know?

  1. By some accounts, the first reports of the Escobar hippos in the wild didn’t come until 14 years after his death.
  2. in 2007 fishermen began reporting odd creatures to the Colombia Ministry of Environment that turned out to be hippopotamuses.
  3.  Before Escobar ramped up his cocaine war against local government and authorities in the mid-80s, he opened a public zoo.
  4. It was all part of a carefully culminated image Escobar crafted for himself as a modern day Robin Hood, giving locals what the government could not.
  5. After his death in 1993, Escobar’s hippos were considered too expensive to move by a country ripped apart by the decades-old drug war.
  6. The hippos were left unattended to and eventually broke out of the area of Escobar’s Hacienda Nápoles estate they were fenced in to.
  7. The hippos have no natural predators in the region, and their massive size makes castration extremely difficult.
  8. Some hippos have been sighted as far away as 90 miles (145 kilometers) from Escobar’s estate property.
  9. Experts are concerned about the environmental impact the 50-plus hippos that are spreading across the Colombian countryside are having.
  10. Living primarily in the Magdalena River, the hippo population is estimated to be growing at a rate of 6% a year.

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Jay Moon

Jay Moon is a writer who has turned the wanderlust that found him backpacking around Canada and the U.S. as a young lad into a writing lust that has him embracing the opportunity to cover topics about anything (and everything) he can get his now middle-aged eyes, ears, and hands on.