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Pablo Escobar’s 'Cocaine Hippos' Are Multiplying — and Starting to Attack People: ‘Very Dangerous’

Four hippos were originally brought to Columbia in the 1980s and were part of the late drug kingpin's private zoo, Hacienda Nápoles

<p>Eric VANDEVILLE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty; AFP via Getty Images</p> Pablo Escobar; a hippo

Eric VANDEVILLE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty; AFP via Getty Images

Pablo Escobar; a hippo
  • Multiple people reportedly have recently encountered hippopotami descending from Pablo Escbobar’s so-called “cocaine hippos”

  • Some people who have encountered the animals have apparently been hospitalized

  • Experts believe the population could grow from about 170 now to about 1,000 in 2035 if proper action is not taken

The population of hippopotami descending from Pablo Escbobar’s so-called “cocaine hippos” is reportedly on the rise — and some locals are growing increasingly concerned about their presence.

There are currently about 170 hippos roaming northwest Columbia, according to CNN and Vice. Local officials have since been attempting to mitigate the issues surrounding the invasive species — which is now apparently starting to attack people.

Some residents who have encountered the animals have been hospitalized according to CBS News and Vice.

"They're very, very dangerous,” one local told FOX News.

Related: Pablo Escobar's 'Cocaine Hippos' Become First Animals in U.S. to Be Considered Legal 'Persons'

Students and parents at a school in Doradal are among those who have reportedly encountered one of the “cocaine hippo” descendants. One of the animals recently showed up in a schoolyard while they were all present.

“The mothers get scared when they see an animal of that size," teacher Dunia Arango told AFP, per CBS News.

Multiple hippos have made themselves at home in a lake just 20 yards from the same school. David Echeverri, an official with the local environment authority, said about 35 children play in the area and could “provoke a tragedy” should they make contact with the animals.

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“While they may look very calm, at any moment, given their highly unpredictable behavior, they can attack, as has happened before,” Echeverri added.

Four hippos were originally brought to Columbia in the 1980s and were part of Escobar’s private zoo, Hacienda Nápoles, according to Vice and NPR. The animals were abandoned after the drug kingpin’s death in 1993, allowing them to rapidly multiply.

However, experts believe the population could explode to 1,000 by 2035 if proper action is not taken, CBS News and CNN reported.

Related: Pablo Escobar's Former Hippos and Their Offspring Could Be Culled Over Environmental Concerns

In November 2023, Colombia’s minister of environment and sustainable development announced a three-point plan to try and mitigate the country’s invasive hippo population, which includes sterilization, relocation, and even “ethical” euthanisa, per CNN and the BBC.

The plan began with the sterilization of 40 hippos shortly after the November announcement, according to the AP. Additionally, 70 hippos have been transported to India and Mexico.

“Here we are in a race against time in terms of the permanent environmental and ecosystem impacts that are being generated,” Environment Minister Susana Muhamad said in a statement, per CNN. “And that is why we cannot say that only one strategy is effective for our objective, which is to control the population.”

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