One of Pablo Escobar’s ‘Cocaine Hippos’ Killed In Highway Collision

Clare Fitzgerald
Photo Credit: Juancho Torres / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Juancho Torres / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

A hippopotamus descended from those brought to Colombia illegally by infamous drug kingpin Pablo Escobar was killed in a highway collision with an SUV. According to environmentalists, the accident occurred near Escobar’s estate and highlights the problems caused by the expansion of the animals’ territory within the South American country.

Hippo standing along a riverbank
Photo Credit: Luis Bernardo Cano / Picture Alliance / Getty Images

The crash occurred on the evening of April 11, 2023. The occupant of the vehicle was unharmed and received medical attention as a precaution. The hippo died immediately, and its body was removed from the scene for analysis.

Speaking with the Associated Press, David Echeverri López, a biologist with Cornare, said, “This is one of the dangers that the presence of this species represents. Many of them cross the highway where vehicles pass, it is also a danger to people.”

This isn’t the first time Pablo Escobar‘s “cocaine hippos” have been involved in incidents with humans. In 2020, one chased a farmer who’d went down to a river to fill a water pump, severely injuring the man.

Pablo Escobar's mugshot
Photo Credit: Colombian National Police / Colombia National Registry / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

The hippos currently residing in Colombia descended from those introduced into the country by Escobar in the late 1970s. The drug lord kept them in a private menagerie at Hacienda Nápoles, east of Medellín. Following his death in 1993, they were left behind at the estate and have since multiplied.

Over the years, the hippos have left the confines of their former home in search of food, making the nearby rivers and waterways their new habitat. It’s believed their numbers have well surpassed 100 in recent years, with their territory expanding all the way into Santander.

Hippo sticking its head out of the water
Photo Credit: Juancho Torres / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

The animals were deemed an invasive species in 2022, with environmental authorities warning the population could grow to as high as 400 in eight years. This is particularly worrisome, as their droppings change the oxygen levels in rivers, causing mass fish deaths and impacting the habitats of the country’s capybara and manatee populations.

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To counter this, Colombia’s government has begun chemically sterilizing the hippos to make them infertile. They’ve also inquired into transferring at least 70 to sanctuaries in Mexico and India – 10 to the former and 60 to the latter. This would bring with it a price tag of around $3.5 million, according to officials.

The animals are unable to be returned to their native Africa, as they risk upsetting and altering the local ecosystem.


Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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