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Pablo Escobar's Hippopotomuses

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posted on Jun, 27 2014 @ 05:11 PM
Not quite sure where this fits but it seems unusual mating habits of an invasive species qualifies for the science forum!

In the 80's, Pablo Escobar, notorious Colombian cartel leader, built a zoo at his 7.7 square mile estate, Hacienda Nápoles, in Puerto Triunfo, Antioquia, northwest of Bogota.

From Wikipedia:

It included a Spanish colonial house, and a complete zoo that included many kinds of animals from different continents such as giraffes, ostriches, elephants, hippopotomuses, ponies, antelope, and exotic birds. The ranch had a large collection of old and luxurious cars and bikes, a private airport and even a cart racing track.

The cost of maintenance for the zoo and the animals was too expensive for the government, so it was decided that most of the animals would be donated to Colombian and international zoos. There still are bison, zebras, a rare goat and one ostrich. Escobar's hippopotamuses have become feral, living in at least four lakes in the area and spreading into neighbouring rivers. Contact between the hippos and local fishermen has led to calls for the hippo population to be culled. By 2011 there were at least 30 animals wild in the countryside - the number of hippos makes it difficult to find zoos into which they can be resettled.[1]

Looking at the entry for Parque Tematico Hacienda Napoles on Trip Advisor, you can see some of the progress they've made converting the former estate into some sort of museum/theme park/zoo.

Here's a picture of some of his antique cars (had to include it because it was cool):

Here's where the hippos come in — apparently Colombia is a paradise for the hippo (my emphasis):

As it turns out, the Colombian climate is just perfect for hippos. Today, Escobar's zoo has lead to the birth of between 50 and 60 hippos. Most of the hippos live in the man made lakes in Escobar's zoo, but some have broken free and caused trouble. Fishermen on the river are scared of them, as they can do damage to their small fishing boats. Farmers are frustrated because the hippos destroy crops and even crush small cows.

In Africa, their homeland, seasonal droughts prevent too much breeding, keeping population sizes small. But in Colombia, the warm, wet weather is perfect for year-round mating. Scientists have found that breeding in Colombia also starts much earlier. While African hippos breed between the ages of seven and nine, Colombian hippos get started at the young age of three. A San Diego University ecologist told BBC, "It's just like this crazy wildlife experiment that we're left with. Gosh! I hope this goes well."

There has been some discussion of what to do with the herd of rogue hippos, but there doesn't seem to be a good plan in the works. They cannot be sent back to Africa, as they might carry diseases specific to Colombia. Zoos don't want the adult hippos. Castration might work, but it's very difficult to execute and expensive. Hippo proof fences seem like the best idea, but they are $500,000 a pop.

Soure - The Wire

According to the article on Gawker (excerpted below), at least twelve of these animals have escaped. Keep in mind, male hippos are very aggressive and territorial and female hippos are extremely protective of their calves. Hippos are among the most, if not THE most dangerous animals in Africa and are responsible for numerous deaths annually. Despite their size, an adult hippo can apparently run up to 18 mph (straight dope) but hey, at least they can't jump or climbs trees.

Because Colombia is always warm and wet, with none of the droughts that characterize the hippos' native African habitats, breeding has exploded in a way that it wouldn't if the beasts were on familiar turf. There's no exact figure, but the BBC reports there are an estimated 50 to 60 hippos now living in Colombia, and at least twelve have escaped the former zoo's confines into the nearby Magdalena River. Several locals say they've had personal encounters. From the BBC:

"My father brought a little one home once," an unnamed girl told the paper. "I called him Luna (Moon) because he was very sweet - we fed him with just milk." Another child, a boy, told the paper: "My father has captured three. It is nice because you have a little animal at home. We bottle-feed them because they only drink milk. They have a very slippery skin, you pour water and they produce a kind of slime, you touch them and it's like soap."

and the post wouldn't be complete with an adorable AP photo of a hippo mother and calf from the article on The Wire:

edit on 2014-6-27 by theantediluvian because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 27 2014 @ 05:15 PM
Yeah, as if the Amazon basin wasn't dangerous enough ... let's add some hippos. They're one of the most dangerous critters and kill more people in Africa than you would think. I'm not sure there's anything in S. America that can predate them.

posted on Jun, 27 2014 @ 05:28 PM

originally posted by: ketsuko
Yeah, as if the Amazon basin wasn't dangerous enough ... let's add some hippos. They're one of the most dangerous critters and kill more people in Africa than you would think. I'm not sure there's anything in S. America that can predate them.

Yes! They're apparently quite aggressive and unpredictable. The Wikipedia entry on hippos says this about the bulls:

"very territorial and indiscriminately ill-tempered"

Even in Africa with its lions, hyenas and crocodiles, the hippo basically has no natural predators given it's size, nearly impenetrable hide, massive teeth/jaws and ferocity — it's definitely not something you want to see escaping into the wild and breeding out of control.
edit on 2014-6-27 by theantediluvian because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 27 2014 @ 07:25 PM
i have no idea why yet but this story has made my day. also got the gears spinning..

"It's just like this crazy wildlife experiment that we're left with. Gosh! I hope this goes well." this just cracks me up. isnt the whole planet just one crazy wildlife experiment?

posted on Nov, 4 2016 @ 12:31 AM
Netflix true crime series Narcos spurs huge demand for Colombian women.

Produced by Netflix, the show "Narcos" takes on the infamous Medellin drug cartel which follows the rise and fall of Colombian kingpin Pablo Escobar and the Drug Enforcement Agency agents hunting him. The story is told largely from the points of view of Escobar (Brazilian actor Wagner Moura) and U.S. DEA Agent Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook), on opposite sides of what would become an all-out war.

Many critics of true crime dramas have always complained they are promoting crime and violence by glorification, an unintended consequence of American entertainment industries. These shows can have other interesting consequences. The Foreign Bride industry has seen a huge spike in demand for Colombian women. This can be viewed as positive or negative, depending on social perspective.

Foreign Brides, sometimes referred to as "mail order brides", a term the industry completely rejects, have become a billion dollar a year business. According to industry leaders, Colombia represented only about 3% of the market three years ago. Since the popularity of Narcos, many companies have seen near tenfold increases in men seeking Colombian wives.

A Foreign Affair (AFA), a company that helps men find women through international tours, says tours to Colombia are now selling out. AFA arranges group tours where 10 to 20 men travel together to Medellin, Cartagena or Barranquilla. During the tour, they attend arranged Social events where the men meet hundreds of beautiful Colombian women looking for marriage. Women can also place their profiles on the AFA web site, in the hopes of finding a husband.

Kenneth Agee, the marketing director for AFA says, "Because of the show we are doubling our tours to Medellin for next year. Narcos has brought a lot of attention to the intense beauty of Colombian women. Although the show is often very violent, the women of Colombia come across as very family oriented and loyal. These values seem harder and harder to find in this world. I would have to agree, because of the interest in Narcos, we even added an excursion to where Pablo's self-built prison was located, in the hills overlooking Medellin.

The crowning of 2015 Miss Universe Paulina Vega put Barranquilla, Colombia on the map. Barranquilla now has recognition for being home to some of the most beautiful and talented women in the world. Not only is Miss Universe from here, Grammy Award winning pop singer Shakira, and actress Sofia Vergara also call Barranquilla home. Vergara stars on the ABC series Modern Family as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett. She's been nominated for 4 Golden Globe Awards, 4 Prime time Emmy Awards, and 7 Screen Actors Guild Awards, all stemming from this role. In 2014, she was ranked as the 32nd Most Powerful Woman in the world by Forbes.

David from Mesa AZ says he met more qualified women in one week than he has during the last 10 years. In 2010, Lisa Ling and the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) filmed a one hour show on the AFA tour called "Online Brides - Our America with Lisa Ling." Even Lisa Ling was surprised by the beauty and sincerity of the women from Barranquilla.

Janet Davis, head of a women's rights group says "AFA is just taking advantage of women from these third world countries. This is no different than Pablo trafficking in narcotics, but these companies traffic women." Proponents refer to a Report (INTERNATIONAL MATCHMAKING ORGANIZATIONS: A REPORT TO CONGRESS) that these marriages have much lower divorce rates and abuse rates compared to traditional domestic marriages. This data makes international dating similar to a woman in the US joining eHarmony to look for a husband.

23-year-old Viviana, from Cartagena, says "I come to these events because I know the men attending are serious about marriage, they are faithful and are good to family. For Colombian women, it is the most important thing, good husband and good family.

Kenneth says, "It has not been all rosy. Narcos has brought us some problems. In Cartagena, we have several Penthouses we rent out. One was originally owned by "Don Diego" head of the Norte Del Velle Drug Cartel, the other by Pablo's people. Over the past year, the properties have been tracked down by individuals thinking they will find large qualities of cash hidden, thus we sometimes find holes all over the walls after a tenant leaves.

For Narcos fans, those who love the gangster genre, or just those who just like seeing beautiful Latin women, there's good news; Netflix's has confirmed Season 3 and 4.

posted on Nov, 4 2016 @ 01:07 AM
Obviously, the zookeepers weren't familiar with Patrick Barrington, who had proposed a solution to this years before:

My house keeper regarded him with jaundice in her eye
She did not want a colony of hippotami
She borrowed a machine gun from from her soldier nephew, Percy
And showed my hippopotamus no hippopotamercy

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