Pablo Escobar's 'cocaine hippos' move to Mexico

Gustavo Petro's government decided to remove the animals from Colombia, as their rapid reproduction is an environmental and social threat to the area where they live.

Ten hippopotamuses from Hacienda Napoles, Colombian drug trafficker Pablo Escobar's macro-complex, will be sent to Mexico in April. Ernesto Zazueta, director of Santuario Ostok, an animal rescue center located in Sinaloa, announced the transfer. He also plans to take as many of these animals as possible to India.

In Colombia, Gustavo Petro's government decided to send them away after they escaped from the drug lord's notorious property. The relocation is a necessary measure because the animals are an environmental and social threat to the area where they currently live.

Colombian environmental authorities estimate that the hippopotamuses have produced more than 160 offspring, from the original three owned by Escobar, that live and extend beyond the ranch (200 km from Bogotá). They anticipate that due to their ability to procreate, there could be up to 400 more in eight years.

Hippopotamus Vanessa - Pablo Escobar
Hippopotamus Vanessa - Pablo Escobar (Wikimedia Commons/ Alvaro Morales Ríos)

Cocaine hippopotamuses' considered "legal" in the U.S.

The Colombian government had been considering for some time whether to euthanize or sterilize the animals in order to curb their reproduction. However, this idea provoked international controversy, so much so, that in 2021, Animal Legal Defense Fund, an animal rights group, filed the case in an Ohio court and won. The so-called 'cocaine hippos' were declared "legal persons" in a landmark ruling in the country.

Since then, the animals have caused many accidents with humans and the authorities' lack of action has allowed them to live freely along the rivers that connect nearby areas. Because of this, the authorities of the Department of Antioquia proposed to fly them to India and Mexico (so far, only the latter has accepted the request). They also tried to move them to Ecuador, but the country refused to take in part of the hippopotamus colony left by the drug lord.

Antioch Animal Protection and Welfare Manager Lina de los Rios Morales explained to The Associated Press that the capture process to move them will consist of luring them with food and then taking each one to an iron container. Afterward, the animals will be transported by land to the local airport and from there they will leave for their new home.

Due to the proportions of each animal, each weighing approximately three tons, the authorities will try to capture the younger animals whose size is not as large as the adults.

Pablo Escobar's zoo

Pablo Escobar was one of the most dangerous drug traffickers in history. Not only did he accumulate a fortune of more than $10 billion, according to Forbes, by selling drugs all over the world, but he also became a kind of idol for many Colombians at the time after his political career and his populist actions. However, the truth went down in history and today he is considered one of the most bloodthirsty criminals on the planet.

The drug lord was also a lover of exotic animals and he built a zoo at his home (Hacienda Napoles) in the 1980s. This creation won him the affection and support of the population, who could visit it free of charge.

La Hacienda Nápoles.
(Wikimedia Commons / XalD)

It is estimated that he had spent $2 million just to buy all types of animals (giraffes, elephants, ostriches and other species) from an old bankrupt zoo in Dallas (the Wildlife Park). Among the species were three hippos, two females and one male. The animals that came from there will be transported to Mexico and possibly India.

After the drug trafficker's death in December 1993, his animals were confiscated and many were transferred to other zoos.

Hacienda Nápoles Theme Park - Pablo Escobar's mother recognizes her son's corpse in the morgue (Wikimedia Commons / Motero colombia)
Parque Temático Hacienda Nápoles - Pablo Escobar's mother recognizes her son's body in the morgue (Wikimedia Commons / Motero Colombia).

The Hacienda Napoles zoo became a tourist attraction and retained some of the other species.

La Hacienda Nápoles / Tourist Park.
(Wikimedia Commons / Arrasaris)