Latin American Herald Tribune

Colombia Ready to Turn Hunters Loose on Pablo Escobar’s Hippos

Jul 14--The hippopotamuses that late Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar kept on the grounds of his luxurious hacienda are facing a serious risk of death after the government authorized hunting the beasts, a move that has generated harsh criticism from animal protection activists.

14 de julio de 2009

The authorization has been temporarily suspended while authorities wait for some zoo in Colombia to agree to take charge of the animals, according to Luis Alfonso Escobar, an official in the northwestern province of Antioquia.

The problem is what to do with the more than 20 hippos now occupying Escobar’s Hacienda Napoles spread on the banks of the Magdalena River.

The controversy surrounding the animals, which the kingpin had shipped in from Africa in the early 1980s, was sparked last month when hunters and soldiers killed a male hippo that had escaped in 2006 along with a female.

The female and a baby hippo, who was born and grew up in the wild over the past years, continue to roam around the vicinity of the town of Puerto Berrio.

Hacienda Napoles, nowadays a tourist destination, is 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) in size, has hotels, 20 artificial lakes, a landing strip big enough to handle a C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft and even has a replica of the aircraft that Escobar used to ship his first batch of cocaine out of the country.

Among all the eccentricities at Napoles, one of the most attractive is the zoo that the defunct Medellin cartel chief stocked with more than 1,500 animal species imported from all over the world.
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