• Slain drug lord Pablo Escobar had a zoo stocked with exotic animals in Colombia back in the 80s.
  • Some 24 hippos were among the assortment of wildlife at the zoo.
  • The hippos were left behind when other animals were rescued. They are creating mayhem.

When drug kingpin Pablo Escobar was murdered, he left Colombia with a long-lasting parting gift: the hippo. The country now has a 4-legged reminder of the narcotrafficker. 

The famous mug shot of Pablo Escobar taken by the regional Colombia control agency in Medellín in 1977. (Wikimedia Commons)

Escobar ran the Medellin cartel, an association that controlled 80% of the global cocaine market in the 80s and was worth billions. 

He decided to build a zoo, the Hacienda Nápoles, that was stocked with exotic animals, near his lavish estate.

A Zebra at the Hacienda Nápoles. (Wikimedia Commons)

Wild animals that were not native to Colombia were smuggled in for Escobar's collection. This included four hippos from a zoo in California; one male and three females. 


The hippos quickly began breeding. Their number grew to a whopping 24 and while other animals were rescued, Escobar's hippo harem was left behind. 


The hippos were too big and too expensive to move. Today, at least 50 of them live in the Magdalena River in Colombia home. 

The hippos are reported to be territorial and have been spotted roaming near schools. Experts are also worrying about damage to the region's delicate ecosystem. 

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