• Germán Leonardo Jiménez Romero

Invasive Hippos in Colombia: An Issue Too Big To Ignore


Colombia Hippo Problem

In Columbia, the hippo has no natural predator.   ©Germán Jiménez
In Colombia, the hippo has no natural predator. ©Germán Jiménez

In the 1980s, notorious drug trafficker Pablo Escobar imported four hippopotami to Colombia. These animals were brought to Escobar’s private ranch, Hacienda Nápoles, as additions to his personal zoo that showcased animals from other continents. When Escobar was killed in 1993, his property was expropriated, and custody of his menagerie was assigned to the National Narcotics Directorate, the Colombian equivalent of the US Drug Enforcement Agency. Because the National Narcotics Directorate did not have the capacity to manage these animals, custody was then transferred to CORNARE, the Colombian regional environmental agency responsible for the area where the hippos were located. Most of the confiscated animals were donated to other zoos around the country; however, the four hippos, because they were deemed too difficult to seize and move, were left untended in Nápoles.

Instead of dying out, the hippos, one male and three females, thrived and bred. Being a new non-native species, the hippos were without natura