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Drug lord Escobar’s pet hippos roam Colombian village

worldpaper Updated: Jul 06, 2016, 08:01 IST
Agence France-­Presse
Agence France-­Presse

DORADAL: More than 20 years after Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar died in a gunfight with police, a strange legacy survives him: his pet hippos. Look out of the window in the dead of night in the village of Doradal and you may see one plodding down the street.

Police killed or locked up Escobar’s drug gang, but not the hippos in his private zoo. Left to themselves on his Napoles Estate, they bred to become what’s said to be the biggest wild hippo herd outside Africa -- a local curiosity and a hazard.“I was going to football training this morning and there was one in the meadow, opposite the school,” says Lina Maria Alvarez, 12.

Just outside the village, Diego Alejandro Rojas, 19, shines a flashlight on a black mass grazing among the tall grass. Its eyes catch the light and shine like glowworms. “They come from the Napoles Estate along the canal after nightfall,” Rojas says. “They are like the village pets. I’m more afraid of the snakes than the hippos.”

David Echeverri Lopez, a biologist from the regional environmental corporation Cornare, says it is the biggest herd of wild hippopotamuses outside of Africa. They have thrived in this green spot, but Echeverri warns they are a hazard for the local area and environment.

They break fences and defecate in the rivers.

“This is a paradise for them,” said local veterinarian Jairo Leon Henao.

“They have no predators so they are more at peace than they would be in their natural habitat and they have been reproducing faster.”

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