Colombia Plans to Ship Toxic Hippos Internationally

Colombia officials are discussing the shipment of 70 hippopotamuses that live near Pablo Escobar’s former ranch. In the 1980s, a drug lord imported the hippos illegally and now the offspring of those hippos are getting out of control.

The hippos are growing at a rapid rate and authorities are scrambling for solutions to slow down the exponential growth. Environmental authorities believe there are 130 hippos in the area in Antioquia province and the total count could grow to 400 in eight years.

Although the breeding is becoming problematic, the hippos have managed to turn into a local tourist attraction. They have taken shelter in the rivers and the climate conditions have been suitable for their needs.

Scientists are getting concerned since the hippos do not have a natural predator in Colombia. They can cause concern when their waste changes the composition of the rivers, negatively impacting the habitat of manatees and capybaras. Last year, Colombia’s government announced the hippos as a toxic invasive species.

As part of the solution, officials plan to ship hippos from Africa to India and Mexico in an effort to control their population. “The plan to take them to India and Mexico has been forming for more than a year,” said Lina Marcela de los Ríos Morales, director of animal protection and welfare at Antioquia’s environment ministry.

The hippos are guided into iron containers with food and transferred by truck to the international airport in the city of Rionegre. From the airport, they would be flown to animal sanctuaries located in India and Mexico.

“It is possible to do, we already have experience relocating hippos in zoos nationwide,” said David Echeverri López, a spokesman for Cornare, the local environmental authority that is responsible for the relocations.

He added: “We work with Ernesto Zazueta, who is the president of sanctuaries and zoos in Mexico, who is the one who liaisons with different countries and manage their rescues.”

Why kill’em when you can ship’em? Officials believe transferring hippos to other countries would help prevent overpopulation domestically and it’s more ethical than exterminating the invasive species.