Hippos in Colombia
September 11, 2009 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Colombia Confronts Drug Lord’s Legacy: Hippos "In what ecologists describe as possibly the continent’s most ambitious effort to assemble a collection of species foreign to South America, Escobar imported animals like zebras, giraffes, kangaroos, rhinoceroses and, of course, hippopotamuses. Some of the animals died or were transferred to zoos around the time Mr. Escobar was killed. But the hippos largely stayed put, flourishing in the artificial lakes dug at Mr. Escobar’s behest."
posted by dhruva (86 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is awful, because of the ecosystem, and also because of the hippos. I don't like to anthropomorphize animals, but man, hippos are real assholes.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:17 AM on September 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Peter Morkel, a consultant for the Frankfurt Zoological Society in Tanzania, compared the potential for the hippos to disrupt Colombian ecosystems to the agitation caused by alien species elsewhere, like goats on the Galápagos Islands, cats on Marion Island between Antarctica and South Africa, or pythons in Florida.

Um, yeah. I'm no wildlife biologist, but I think that feral hippos could cause a great deal more disruption and agitation than goat, cats, or nutria.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:17 AM on September 11, 2009


HURF DURF HIPPO STALKER
posted by DU at 11:18 AM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hunter. Hippo hunter.

It's time for my 3 day weekend to begin.
posted by DU at 11:19 AM on September 11, 2009


I would like an artificial lake dugg at my behest.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:22 AM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


DU: "HURF DURF HIPPO STALKER"

INSERT CHILD
PUSH LEVER
posted by boo_radley at 11:22 AM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hippos are crazy dangerous. I've seen these photos passed around for their comic value, but you're looking at a man who is close to dying as anyone you're likely to see on camera.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:28 AM on September 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm no wildlife biologist, but I think that feral hippos could cause a great deal more disruption and agitation than goat, cats, or nutria.

Would you say the same about cute wittle wabbits in Australia?
posted by Falconetti at 11:30 AM on September 11, 2009


Aww, wook at da cute wibble ... IT'S COMING RIGHT FOR US!

The thing that owns this weighs 3 tons and runs faster than a horse.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:31 AM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hippos can reach speeds of up to 30mph on land

I knew hippos were dangerous, but what. 30 mph can do 100 meters in 7.4 seconds.
posted by DU at 11:32 AM on September 11, 2009


you're looking at a man who is close to dying as anyone you're likely to see on camera.

His family tried to keep the photos from being published, but the ghouls at the Daily Mail will do anything for money.
posted by GuyZero at 11:33 AM on September 11, 2009


I enjoy hunting. It's for food, being in and a part of nature, getting in touch with my humanity and confronting human nature as a predator and honoring and communing with the slain animal (a deer saved my life once - I ate him) and restoring and preserving the environment. I would never take sick pleasure in killing an animal just for the sake of harming it.
Hippos, maybe I'd make an exception.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:35 AM on September 11, 2009


Scratching Columbia off the top of my list for retirement communities......
posted by HappyHippo at 11:35 AM on September 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Ah! Cocaine explains their behavior at the party.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 11:41 AM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


[NOT HIPPOPOTAM-IST]
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:41 AM on September 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


Careful, they will eat every marble in that country. Those are some hungry, hungry animals.
posted by bondcliff at 11:49 AM on September 11, 2009 [61 favorites]


Hippos are terrifying. I'm a big ol' bleeding-heart and not into the idea of hunting much at all but an invasive species is an invasive species. And some invasive species will totally kill you.
posted by Neofelis at 11:50 AM on September 11, 2009


DAMN. YOU. BONDCLIFF.
posted by The Whelk at 11:57 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


What, no one's cited stavrogin's 1st rule of hippopotamus discussion?
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:02 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, I had to RTFA to find it:
After all, hippos, despite their docile appearance, are thought to kill more people in Africa than any other large animal.
Somewhere, stavrogin is smiling.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:06 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now I'm gonna have nightmares about grouchy, nearsighted, highly territorial kudzu with sharp teeth. Thanks, Neofelis.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:07 PM on September 11, 2009


Surely these savage hippo's could be placated with some nice shiny marbles?
posted by utsutsu at 12:08 PM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I like the humorous hippo-shaped baby disposal unit pictured on the front page which boo_radley refers to. Man, we could really make a dent in overpopulation if we'd just make euthanasia more fun and cartoon-like for everyone.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:08 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


dang it. if only there was a way to preview.

I blame the co worker who just chatted with me about the beatles game, and not my own lack of previewness.
posted by utsutsu at 12:09 PM on September 11, 2009


I know it's not but I keep reading 'Hippies' in that first sentence.
posted by motty at 12:13 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hippos suck.
posted by jquinby at 12:15 PM on September 11, 2009


Surely these savage hippo's could be placated with some nice shiny marbles?

Has anyone verified that these hippos are hungry hungry?
posted by electroboy at 12:19 PM on September 11, 2009


I would like to propose the following for all future discussions:

Despite their _____ appearance they're really rather _____. Indeed in _____, they're known to _____ more people than any other _____.
posted by ob at 12:19 PM on September 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


I get it now.

When Hasbro Incorporated finally makes their inevitable Hungry Hungry Hippos® feature length film, it will be a horror film about fluorescent colored insatiable beasts, insatiable monsters that trample and consume every living thing in their path. And marbles.
posted by idiopath at 12:21 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you think about it, a hippo is kind of the perfect killing machine.
posted by The Straightener at 12:28 PM on September 11, 2009


If you think about it, a hippo is kind of the perfect killing machine.

Because nobody every suspects the hippo.
posted by bondcliff at 12:29 PM on September 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


Because nobody ever suspects the hippo.

So that's how one wins at Clue every time!
posted by ob at 12:38 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Best Vehicle: Mara Serpiente
Best Armor: Elliot Ness' Hat
Best Weapon: hippopotamus
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:39 PM on September 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Obama's weakness makes us vulnerable to the feral hippo threat.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:43 PM on September 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


I for one welcome our even-toed ungulate overlords.
posted by parmanparman at 12:48 PM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Your favourite even-toed ungulate sucks.
posted by ob at 12:54 PM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


That Escobar, drug lord though he was, was a lover of kids and animals. See. You can find good even in bad people.
posted by Postroad at 12:54 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


In Colombia, first you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the hippopotamus, then you get the woman.
posted by nicwolff at 12:56 PM on September 11, 2009 [13 favorites]


From the Wikipedia article on hippos: "The hippopotamus is one of the most aggressive creatures in the world and is often regarded as the most ferocious animal in Africa."

stavrogin wins again!
posted by WidgetAlley at 12:59 PM on September 11, 2009


Okay Sosa; You wanna fuck with me? You fucking with the best! You wanna fuck with me? Okay. You little cockroaches... come on. You wanna play games? Okay, I play with you; come on. Okay. You wanna play rough? Okay. Say hello to the heaviest extant artiodactyl!
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:02 PM on September 11, 2009 [9 favorites]


I wonder if the first guy to domesticate a wolf got reactions from his friends like the ones that Jessica the Hippo's family must get.

You do realize that this animal could kill you in a few seconds. You do realize that.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:12 PM on September 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Hippos are grumpy, short-sighted, extremely territorial killing machines. They are highly dangerous because they charge first and ask questions later. No joke.

I have acquaintances who have had a couple of close calls with them on guide trips. Apparently hippos are somewhat less amusing when they are running straight at you with their gigantic tusks gleaming in the hot African sun.
posted by Aquaman at 1:20 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


A couple of years ago I was idly watching some Discovery Channel or Animal Planet show where a bunch of white guys hire a bunch of brown guys to move their truckloads of stuff across inhospitable African terrain and they get to a river and the brown guys go, no, fuck this, not us, not today, and the white guys go, oh look the natives are pussies and let us climb into this leaky canoe and paddle about cluelessly and out of nowhere a hippo rears up from beneath the muddy water and starts flinging that canoe around like a chew toy and practically drowns all the stupid white guys and I thought: I don't want to go to Africa and hippos scare the shit out of me but if I DO ever end up in Africa I am going to listen with great attention to what the locals are trying to tell my dumb ass.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:27 PM on September 11, 2009 [36 favorites]


I am actually surprised that there hasn't been a death metal concept album about hippos yet.
posted by The Straightener at 1:33 PM on September 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


Full of win. I have tears in my eyes. Well played gentlefolk.
posted by longbaugh at 1:34 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hippos are grumpy, short-sighted, extremely territorial killing machines.

As opposed to humans, who are so jovial and docile.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 1:35 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I were an evil super-villain (as opposed to the nice type of super-villain) I would have an army of hippos with bazookas on their backs. That would be awesome.
posted by ob at 1:44 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


One Hippo, all alone...
posted by mikelieman at 1:47 PM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I was happy to learn more about this, because back in July the Toronto Star ran a related story which sported the best headline I'd read in a newspaper in quite a while:

Drug lord's hippo shot dead, just like him
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:54 PM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Scratching Columbia off the top of my list for retirement communities......
posted by HappyHippo


So I guess you won't need this link?
posted by signal at 1:56 PM on September 11, 2009


Say hello to the heaviest extant artiodactyl!

If you read it in your head using Tony Montana's voice, you will pee your pants. Comedy gold.
posted by GuyZero at 1:59 PM on September 11, 2009


So hippos are like the drug lords of the Animal Kingdom? It would make perfect sense.
posted by wendell at 2:27 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


"The hipster is one of the most annoying creatures in the world and is often regarded as the most obnoxious animal in America."
posted by mosk at 2:30 PM on September 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


"Hungry, Hungry Hipsters" is the official game of Williamsburg in Brooklyn.
posted by GuyZero at 2:45 PM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I keep thinking of cane toads, but Volkswagen-sized. And with tusks.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:48 PM on September 11, 2009


Wow, I just re-read that entire article and replaced "Hippos" with "Hipsters." Some excepts :

“In Colombia, there is no documented case of an attack against people or that they damaged any crops,” said Aníbal Vallejo, president of the Society for the Protection of Animals in Medellín, referring to the hipsters. “No sufficient motive to sacrifice one of these animals has emerged in the 28 years since Pablo Escobar brought them to his hacienda.”

[...]

Wildlife experts from Africa brought here to study Colombia’s growing numbers of hipsters, a legacy of Mr. Escobar’s excesses, have in recent days bolstered the government’s plan to prevent them — by force, if necessary — from spreading into areas along the nation’s principal river. But some animal-rights activists are so opposed to the idea of killing them that they have called for the firing of President Álvaro Uribe’s environment minister.

[...]

“Colombia is absolute paradise for hipsters, with its climate, vegetation and no natural predators,” Mr. Morkel said.

“But as much as I love hipsters, they are an alien species and extremely dangerous to people who disrupt them,” he continued. “Since castration of the males is very difficult, the only realistic option is to shoot those found off the hacienda.”

[...]

Faced with the possibility of a nascent colony away from Nápoles, Colombian authorities decided to act. After all, hipsters, despite their docile appearance, are thought to kill more people in Africa than any other large animal.


Moral of the story : DON'T FUCK WITH HIPSTERS.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:53 PM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am actually surprised that there hasn't been a death metal concept album about hippos yet.

Please do not give Mastodon this idea. Please.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:04 PM on September 11, 2009


I went to Medellin a few years ago and was at a dinner party with a bunch of biologists. One of the guys was an zoologist who did consulting work for the police. He told a couple of stories about the animals they would find in the houses of suspected drug lords, usually when said animal became unruly and household staff called for help. A cleaning lady called in because the cat was acting up, and the police called him in when it turned out to be a jaguar. I didn't hear about any hippos, though, but I doubt they can be kept in the city proper.
posted by emd3737 at 3:09 PM on September 11, 2009


Hippos can reach speeds of up to 30mph on land

Built for comfort and for speed.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:14 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


3 Hippo moon t-shirt
posted by pianomover at 3:36 PM on September 11, 2009 [8 favorites]


Please do not give Mastodon this idea. Please.

Little known fact: the first draft of Moby Dick was about a tragic figure of a man who traveled the world's oceans looking for a Hippopotamus. Turns out Ahab knew a lot about ships but the dude had not the first fucking clue about ungulates.
posted by vanar sena at 3:42 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, that quote in the post is so well written. You can practically hear the hippo's brass band theme as they are flourishing in the artificial lakes.
posted by krilli at 3:50 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


An alternate idea that I have yet to see presented: Escobar had been dipping into his own merchandise and, is the wont of such people, was hoping to recreate this.

I can see no holes in this theory.

oh man massive teeth bad attitude 30mph and so full of grace
posted by vanar sena at 4:02 PM on September 11, 2009


Hippos kill more humans than any other animal. Because no one counts mosquitoes as animals, and that pisses them off, and that's why they actually do most of the killing, even if they don't get the billing they deserve.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:23 PM on September 11, 2009


I would love to get out of bed in the morning, throw open the curtains covering the floor to ceiling windows and gaze out upon my herd of majestic hippos milling about in the early morning mist. A herd of fucking hippos. There is a certain twisted beauty in that level of decadence.
posted by MikeMc at 4:29 PM on September 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


I read somewhere that Escobar's people used to pack cocaine shipments with large quantities of hippo poop, because it freaked out sniffer dogs.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 4:46 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm a big ol' bleeding-heart and not into the idea of hunting much at all but an invasive species is an invasive species. And some invasive species will totally kill you.
Humans, for example.
posted by Flunkie at 4:57 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't forget, he also built a whole bunch of life sized dinosaurs.
posted by paisley henosis at 5:09 PM on September 11, 2009


Hippos kill more humans than any other animal. Because no one counts mosquitoes as animals, and that pisses them off, and that's why they actually do most of the killing, even if they don't get the billing they deserve.

Because no one counts malaria protozoa as animals, and that pisses them off, and that's why they actually do most of the killing, even though they don't get the billing they deserve.
posted by qvantamon at 5:16 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've always wondered if the ancestors of whales looked -- and smelled -- like saltwater hippos. I suspect as much. Maybe in a hundred million years, hippos' descendants will be a whole 'nother order.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:18 PM on September 11, 2009


This is exactly how killer bees started spreading. We're all doomed. We can't run north to escape them, Canada is turning into a tropical wonderland thanks to Global Warming. We can't defeat them with conventional weapons, or Africa would have done so already. No, we ignored ecology and ecology made us her bitch. Perhaps future generations in some post-apocalyptic wasteland will learn to live with nature and the hippo, the most dangerous animal in all of America, will return to her infernal origins, to dwell there in eternal vigilance lest humans forget the cost of their disregard for the environment.
posted by stavrogin at 5:43 PM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


As the hIppos move north and the polar bears move south we residents of the western United States will be caught in mother nature's pincers of huge lumbering doom.
posted by idiopath at 5:52 PM on September 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


"Throw him to the hippo" doesn't sound as cool as "Throw him to the crocodiles", but I know what I'd rather take a chance on. Even grannies have wrestled salt-water crocodiles here. I've yet to see anyone wrestle a hippo.
posted by ninazer0 at 5:53 PM on September 11, 2009


I've always wondered if the ancestors of whales looked -- and smelled -- like saltwater hippos.
Nope.
posted by Flunkie at 5:59 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


(well, maybe smelled)
posted by Flunkie at 6:01 PM on September 11, 2009


stavrogin: "This is exactly how killer bees started spreading."

Any other grey hairs remember the bee scares of the late 70s? They were great for helping you forget the menace from the deteriorating ozone layer.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:04 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read somewhere that Escobar's people used to pack cocaine shipments with large quantities of hippo poop, because it freaked out sniffer dogs.

That would probably freak me out, too.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:26 PM on September 11, 2009


Because no one counts malaria protozoa as animals, and that pisses them off, and that's why they actually do most of the killing, even though they don't get the billing they deserve.

Why stop there? Despite its docile appearance, the first law of thermodynamics is thought to kill more people in Africa than any other broad abstraction.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:39 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hell. Second law. Unless the equivalence of heat and work is out there bumping people off and framing entropy for it — which would really be pretty clever, come to think of it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:42 PM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think I once mistakenly snorted some of that hippo poop. Good stuff.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 7:36 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is exactly how killer bees started spreading.

Pablo Escobar imported killer bees too? Wow, I didn't see that mentioned in the article.
posted by MikeMc at 7:43 PM on September 11, 2009


Killer bees are also known as Africanized Bees. Tanzanian queen bees were imported from Africa to South America, where they escaped into the wild and spread, breeding with American bees and becoming a source of [APIARIST] fear mongering. The article says that the hippos were imported from Africa and have begun to escape their original man made boundaries, presumably to rape our white women and kill us all. Duhn-duhn-duuuuuuuuuuhnnnn.
posted by stavrogin at 7:59 PM on September 11, 2009


So what you're saying stavrogin is that soon America will be populated solely by illegal Mexicans and half white/half hippo socialists with government run health care that will provide every MexiHippoMerican with an EpiPen so they don't go into anaphylactic shock when they are stung by Africanized-American bees?
posted by MikeMc at 8:09 PM on September 11, 2009


[from the article]
He needed a tranquil place to unwind with his family,” said Fernando Montoya, 57, a sculptor from Medellín who built giant statues here of Tyrannosaurus rex and other dinosaurs for Mr. Escobar."
[/from the article]

Yes, because being the top drug dude just wore him the fuck out.
posted by librarylis at 10:20 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


One Hippo, all alone...

Dude, mikelieman, I have had to read that book 6 times today. My one year old picks it up and crawls over to me holding it out again and again. I hate that fucking book.
posted by gaspode at 3:32 AM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


My one year old picks it up and crawls over to me holding it out again and again.

When they're 2, you can start teaching them all about harmony...

When you have a 2 year old and a 5 year old, it's a chorus.
posted by mikelieman at 9:18 AM on September 12, 2009


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