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Colombia begins sterilisation of hippos descended from Pablo Escobar

BOGOTA (AP) – Colombia on Tuesday began the sterilisation of hippopotamuses, descendants of animals illegally brought to the country by late drug kingpin Pablo Escobar in the 1980s.

Two male hippos and one female underwent surgical sterilisation, environmental authorities said. It is part of a larger government effort to control the population of more than 100 of the mammals that roam around unsupervised in some rivers.

The plan includes the sterilisation of 40 hippos a year, transfer some of them to other countries and possibly euthanasia.

The hippos, which spread from Escobar’s estate into nearby rivers where they flourished, have no natural predators in Colombia and have been declared an invasive species that could upset the ecosystem.

A group of hippos was brought in the 1980s to Hacienda Nápoles, Escobar’s private zoo that became a tourist attraction after his death in 1993. Most of the animals live freely in rivers and reproduce without control.

Hippos float in the lagoon at Hacienda Napoles Park in Colombia. PHOTO: AP