The environmentally invasive descendants of four “cocaine hippos” from Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar’s private zoo now have their eyes set on a new target: People.
There have been reports of hippos invading a school yard, as well as terrorizing local fishing communities with some residents requiring hospital care after ferocious attacks, according to local media. Many are now worried that the hippos, which have since multiplied to a population of nearly 170 in 40 years, will become an even bigger threat if they continue to reproduce at the same speed.
“They’re very, very dangerous,” a local told Fox News. The creatures have become “unpredictable and aggressive,” and said that if a person were to encounter one it would probably be best to hide.
This comes just three months after Colombia’s government pledged millions of dollars on a plan to cull the nearly 170 hippos as they have become one of the largest invasive species in the world, destroying South America’s soil while also poisoning waterways and killing fish.
The original four hippos, three females and one male, were part of the hundreds of exotic animals at Escobar’s private zoo, Hacienda Nápoles, from the 1980s. After the drug lord’s death in 1993, animals from the abandoned estate were donated to other zoos, except the hippos who have since reproduced uncontrollably.
Colombia’s Environment Minister Susana Muhamad said that they’re in a “race against time” when it comes to the “permanent environmental and ecosystem impacts” created by the hippos that are predicted to hit a population boom of “1,000 by 2023” if left unchecked.
“Their presence represents a threat to ecosystems and risks for the communities that surround them.”