Dozens of Pablo Escobar’s Columbian ‘cocaine hippos’ to be sent to zoos in India

Colombian authorities are set to send "cocaine hippos" from Pablo Escobar's exotic animal collection to zoos and wildlife sanctuaries in India, Ecuador and Mexico.

The hippos, which Escobar had illegally imported to create his infamous drug-baron animal kingdom at his Hacienda Napoles ranch, have lived in Colombia for decades after escaping the area and roaming free following his killing.

Four of the beasts were first imported by the kingpin but now there are as many as 90 "cocaine" hippos roaming the banks of the Magdalena River, with estimates suggesting that up to 700 hippos could eventually make the riverbank their new habitat.

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Officials last year decided to call the species "invasive" due to the impact the hippos are having on the local life.

And now, 72 of the territorial three-tonne beasts are to be lured into large iron containers using food and then transported to the airport in Rionegro, a small city in the Colombian Andes.

Around 60 of the hippos will be flown onto to the Greens Zoological Rescue & Rehabilitation Kingdom in Gujarat, India.

A further 10 will be flown to various zoos and sanctuaries around Mexico, while two more could also be sent to Ecuador, according to DW.

Departmental officials in Antioquia, one of the 32 departments of Colombia and located in the central north-western part of the country, said the plan has been in the works for more than a year.

"It is possible to do, we already have experience relocating hippos in zoos nationwide," said David Echeverri López, a spokesperson for local environmental authority Cornare, which will be in charge of the planned relocations.

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Experts claim the invasive hippos threaten the local ecosystem. David Echeverry, a biologist with Cornare, says their poo contaminates water and affects fish population.

Also, they are dangerous, as one local farmer found out in October 2021. John Aristides Saldarriaga was fishing in a lake near the fabled Hacienda Napoles ranch when he was ambushed by an adult female as he left the water.

“If it had wanted, it could have crushed me and … goodbye life,” Saldarriaga said.

Alexander von Humboldt Institute estimates within a decade 700 hippos will inhabit the lowlands of the Magdalena river, the main river of Colombia, and where the hippos reside.

Daily Star previously reported the Colombian Government was looking to profile the animals as an invasive species so they could cull them.

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