One of Pablo Escobar's 'cocaine hippos' dies after being hit by SUV in Colombia

One of Pablo Escobar's 'cocaine hippos' dies after being hit by SUV in Colombia
  • A descendant of Pablo Escobar's illegally imported hippos died last week, officials said.

  • The so-called "cocaine hippo" died after being struck by an SUV on a highway in Colombia.

  • The local governor said it showed the need to push ahead with sending the animals to Mexico and India.

A hippopotamus descended from animals the late drug lord Pablo Escobar illegally brought to Colombia in the 1980s died on Tuesday after being struck by an SUV along a highway near Escobar's former ranch, authorities said.

The collision took place on Tuesday night on a road that runs from Bogota to Medellin, according to environmental authorities, per USA Today.

The hippo died instantly, officials said, according to the media outlet.

A person in the SUV received medical attention from first responders, CNN reported.

Officials told CNN that the incident further showed that hippos in the region – which are often referred to as "cocaine hippos" because of Escobar's links to the drug trade – are an environmental and social problem that require timely solutions.

"This is one of the dangers that the presence of this species represents," said David Echeverri López, a biologist at Cornare, the local environmental authority, per NBC News.

"Many of them cross the highway where many vehicles pass, it is also a danger to people," he added.

Escobar illegally imported hippos to his Hacienda Nápoles ranch in the 1980s. Four were left after he was fatally shot in 1993, with the animals rapidly reproducing at unsustainable levels.

Authorities estimate that there are about 130 hippos in and around the ranch, with the possibility of there being thousands in the vicinity within a couple of decades, according to Jonathan Shurin, an ecologist with the University of California San Diego, speaking to National Geographic in 2020.

Attempts at stunting the population of the hippos, which Colombia has declared an invasive species that could displace some native species, has previously involved sterilization.

A more recent plan involves sending at least 60 to Gujarat in India, and another 10 to zoos and sanctuaries in Mexico.

Insider previously reported that this would cost an estimated $3.5m, owing to the high cost and difficulty in anesthetizing the animals.

Aníbal Gaviria, the governor of the Colombian province of Antioquia, said in a tweet on Wednesday that this latest incident highlights the need to expedite the proposed transportation plan.

The tweet, which included an image of the deceased hippo on the road, urged the country's president and environmental minister to approve the transfer of the animals.


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