The Colombian government has begun sterilizing Pablo Escobar’s horny hippos to prevent the overly-fertile descendants of the late drug lord’s former pets from taking over the country’s marshlands.
Out of more than 80 hippos, 24 have been treated with in a chemical that makes them infertile, the BBC reports.
The hippos pose a threat to Columbia’s natural wildlife since their urine and feces are toxic, according to scientists.
Back in 1993, one male and three female hippos escaped from Escobar’s 7,000-acre jungle hacienda, between Medellin and Bogata, after the cocaine kingpin was shot dead by authorities.
Escobar’s zebras, elephants, ostriches, camels and giraffes all had found homes in zoos around the world. But the quartet of illegally imported hippos — reportedly the kingpin’s favorites — had better plans.
“It was logistically difficult to move them around, so the authorities just left them there, probably thinking the animals would die,” Colombian biologist Nataly Castelblanco told the BBC earlier this year.
Since then, the hippo population has swelled and taken over the countryside near the kingpin’s former ranch, Hacienda Nápoles.
Scientists have projected that the country’s hippo population could surge to 1,500 by 2024 if no steps are taken.
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