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Pablo Escobar’s hippos: A growing problem
June 26, 2014 7:47 PM   Subscribe

A herd of hippopotamuses once owned by the late Colombian drug baron Pablo Escobar has been taking over the countryside near his former ranch
posted by T.D. Strange (36 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
"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."
posted by KokuRyu at 7:55 PM on June 26


Have they killed anyone yet?

Africa is full of dangerous animals that can and will kill humans if they can: lions, crocs, elephants, leopards...

But it is hippos who are the most dangerous. They kill more humans every year than any other kind of wild animal.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:55 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Have they killed anyone yet?

According to the article, no.
posted by empath at 7:56 PM on June 26 [3 favorites]


I'd seen the comment elsewhere that Hippos were the most dangerous animal in Africa. That would be an interesting detail to validate.
posted by sammyo at 8:00 PM on June 26


Most dangerous mammal. I think you'll find mosquitoes kill far more people.
posted by dilaudid at 8:00 PM on June 26 [7 favorites]


Baby hippos are indeed pretty cute. And they look like their namesake a (chubby) river-horse.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:00 PM on June 26


> Baby hippos are indeed pretty cute. And they look like their namesake a (chubby) river-horse.

"Tiny, rare hippo born in England"

Yeah, but think how rare a full grown one being born would be.
posted by boo_radley at 8:19 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Though not directly related to his hippos, there is a great movie about growing up as the son of Pablo Escobar: Pecados De Mi Padre. From the IMDB summary:

This is the incredible story of Pablo Escobar, the infamous boss of Colombia's Medellin drug cartel, told for the very first time by his son, Sebastian and his widow Maria Isabel Santos. In Nicolas Entel's film Sebastian tells of his extraordinary childhood, growing up with a father he loved but whom he knew to be Colombia's enemy number one. He tells of times of extraordinary luxury and extravagance, and other times on the run. And Sebastian and his widow open the family vaults to share their private and long hidden archives. But this is also the story of two of Escobar's most prominent victims, the Minister of Justice and a politician about to be elected President of Colombia, as told by their sons. They were among hundreds that Escobar had killed in the 1980's. The film follows Sebastian as he tries to break the cycle of revenge and assassination by seeking reconciliation with the sons of his father's victims.

Definitely worth a watch. It does briefly mention the extravagant zoo.

My favourite part of the article:

"I think they should barbecue them and eat them”

Patricio von Hildebrand
Biologist

posted by Admira at 8:54 PM on June 26 [4 favorites]


At night, the animals roam the countryside, wandering into ranches, eating crops and occasionally crushing small cows
!!
posted by jcm at 9:17 PM on June 26 [4 favorites]


The article mentions castration as an option for controlling the feral hippo population, and touches on how difficult the procedure can be. Here's a previous Mefi submission describing the process in more detail which might make you squirm.
posted by Vulgar Euphemism at 9:17 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


I'd seen the comment elsewhere that Hippos were the most dangerous animal in Africa. That would be an interesting detail to validate.

What I see when I look around is a lot of "experts believe" and "often are said to be" weasel wording, with the more science-y sites being much more cautious, and few attempts at citation [e.g.]. There seems to be no Central African Registry of Dangerous Animals, as it happens. There is a general claim as well that lions, though considered fierce, are not really responsible for many human deaths at all (Tsavo notwithstanding).

The Straight Dope, naturally, did delve into the issue once.

The most interesting search result was that the question raged in the letters column of the New York Times a century ago, albeit from one particular perspective, and you can guess that it isn't that of an ordinary person living in Africa.
posted by dhartung at 9:23 PM on June 26


The hippo pictured needs a dentist, STAT!
posted by daninnj at 9:41 PM on June 26


All the descendants of three females and one male - is that enough of a gene pool, in the long run?
posted by Segundus at 9:51 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


As I understand it, attacks on humans by hippos occur when the humans enter their wetland territory and, all unknowing, approach their young or get between an adult and young. Unknowing because you can't actually see where they are very easily in the water since they spend much of their time mostly submerged and there's plant life everywhere.

The first you know you're in the wrong place is when a hippo attacks you. Don't want to get attacked? Stay out of their home. Because in their opinion it's humans who are the most dangerous mammal. And they're right.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:03 PM on June 26


All the fertile females are reported to be giving birth to a calf every year.

That's not an invasive species, this is an invasive species.
</CrocodileDundee>
posted by XMLicious at 1:04 AM on June 27 [3 favorites]


Man, between this and the Sgt Pepper movie... cocaine, it's a helluva drug.
posted by Devonian at 1:36 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]


It's a dangerous invasive species. I can't believe people are protesting killing them. Or rather, I can easily believe it, but it hurts my brain a little.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:48 AM on June 27 [2 favorites]


I would agree that castrating politicians isn't necessarily a bad idea.
posted by asok at 3:44 AM on June 27


Also, some paleontologist is going to be confused as fuck a couple million years from now.
posted by Renoroc at 4:36 AM on June 27 [3 favorites]


Time to send in the cane toads.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:43 AM on June 27 [4 favorites]


It's a dangerous invasive species. I can't believe people are protesting killing them.

They're also endangered, and you, know, not that difficult to find and capture. It's not like we're talking about tree snakes here.
posted by empath at 4:55 AM on June 27


send in the cane toads

♫ there ought to be cane toads...

don't bother… they're here
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:56 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]


escobbqopotamus?
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 5:16 AM on June 27


guys! Maybe they're just house hippos
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:54 AM on June 27


"I think they should barbecue them and eat them”

Patricio von Hildebrand
Biologist


"Lake cow bacon, made from the delicious hyacinth-fed hippopotamus of Louisiana's Columbia's lily-fringed streams...."
posted by Floydd at 8:39 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]


They're also endangered, and you, know, not that difficult to find and capture. It's not like we're talking about tree snakes here.

Only the Pygmy hippos are endangered. And as the article points out, even if you have the money and expertise to capture them, then what do you do with several hundred full grown hippos? Zoos don't need more, they can't be returned to Africa because of diseases, and no one is offering to feed and house them all for the rest of their lives.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:43 AM on June 27


No doubt one of Pablo's minions overheard him singing I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas and got a little brown nosing in.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:44 AM on June 27


Probably a good thing that Louisiana hippo ranching proposal never came to pass.
posted by Small Dollar at 9:52 AM on June 27


They're also endangered, and you, know, not that difficult to find and capture.

Probably easy to find. But capturing them is a different matter. And once you've captured them, then what do you do with them?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:05 PM on June 27


Throw a hippocue?
posted by sonascope at 12:06 PM on June 27


The article mentions castration as an option for controlling the feral hippo population, and touches on how difficult the procedure can be.

If you had asked me, "How difficult do you think it would be to castrate a feral hippopotamus?", I think my answer would probably not have lowballed it.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:17 PM on June 27 [3 favorites]


Chocolate Pickle: "They're also endangered, and you, know, not that difficult to find and capture.

Probably easy to find. But capturing them is a different matter. And once you've captured them, then what do you do with them?
"

gaucho steakhouse.

Wolfdog: "If you had asked me, "How difficult do you think it would be to castrate a feral hippopotamus?", I think my answer would probably not have lowballed it."

"Gee, for a hipp vet, you sure work fast."
posted by boo_radley at 12:20 PM on June 27


Im not going to lie, I would love to try some hippo-bacon.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:32 PM on June 27


Have they killed anyone yet?

According to the article, no.


Luckily they abide by that oath about doing no harm.
posted by hal9k at 1:43 PM on June 27 [5 favorites]


At night, the animals roam the countryside, wandering into ranches, eating crops and occasionally crushing small cows

I think it's finally time to give MeFi one of my favorite jokes:

Why do ducks have flat feet?












To stamp out forest fires.

Why do hippos have flat feet?










To stamp out burning ducks.
posted by allkindsoftime at 3:11 PM on June 27 [3 favorites]


But are they hungry, hungry?
posted by Violet Hour at 1:28 AM on June 29


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