In the 1980s, drug lord Pablo Escobar decided he wanted some pet hippos on his Colombian estate so he smuggled them across the ocean from Africa. Decades later, they have bred themselves into a big and dangerous problem.
A new study shows that the hippo population in Colombia will swell to 1,500 by 2040 and wreak environmental havoc in a habitat where they do not belong. Now locals are trying to prevent this by castrating them.
In Africa, hippo populations control themselves by getting into fights and hanging out in disease-infested waters. In Columbia, they have plenty of food and water and few predators so they are breeding like rabbits.
Despite the dangers and displacement, locals really like them. They have become a souvenir shop staple and are called the “town pet.” A pet that can kill you.