BOGOTA, Colombia – On Tuesday, Colombia began the sterilisation of hippopotamuses. These animals are descendants of the illegally imported animals Pablo Escobar by the late drug kingpin .
Environmental authorities reported that two male hippos, and one female, had undergone surgical sterilization. The government is trying to control the number of over 100 hippos that are roaming around in rivers unsupervised.
The plan calls for the sterilization and transfer of some hippos to other countries, as well as possible euthanasia.
has been declared as an invasive species in Colombia. The hippos that spread from Escobar’s estate to nearby rivers, where they thrived, do not have any natural predators.
In the 1980s, Escobar brought a group of hippos to Hacienda Napoles. This private zoo became a tourist destination after Escobar died in 1993. The animals reproduce freely and live in rivers.
David Echeverry Lopez is the chief of the Environment Office in charge of this plan. In a video sent to the media, he said that sterilization takes time because it’s difficult to capture and spot the territorial, aggressive, 3-ton animals.
The animals have been difficult to capture because of rain events in the area. Echeverry explained that more grass meant “they had an oversupply” of food. This made it even harder to lure the animals.
According to the government, there are approximately 169 hippos living in Colombia. This is especially true in the Magdalena River Basin. If no action is taken, this number could reach 1,000 by 2035.
The Environment Ministry said that the procedure was expensive — each hippopotamus sterilization costs approximately $9,800 — as well as posing risks to the hippopotamus. These included allergic reactions to the anesthesia, death or other risks, as did the risks to animal health staff.