'Cocaine Hippos' Sterilization Process Underway in Colombia

The animals are descendants of those illegally brought into the country around 1985 by the late Pablo Escobar.

hippo in water in colombia
Image via Getty/Raul ARBOLEDA/AFP
hippo in water in colombia

The process of sterilizing hippopotamuses descended from those brought into Colombia by Pablo Escobar decades ago has started, officials announced this week.

Per a report from the Associated Press, two males and one female had undergone a surgical sterilization procedure as of Tuesday. Also part of the country’s strategy are relocation efforts for some animals, while an estimated 40 hippos are projected to be sterilized in Colombia on a yearly basis.

Much has been written about these so-called “cocaine hippos” over the years, including (but most certainly not limited to) extensive coverage of them reportedly being legally recognized as people in an Ohio court. Last July, officials in Colombia detailed the growth of these hippos, estimating that there were more than 130 hippos in the region at that time.

Escobar is said to have “illegally introduced” four hippos into the environment in 1985, with reproduction ultimately leading to that 130 hippos figure. The hippos have long been a cause of concern, with some experts arguing as recently as 2021 that "a cull" was the only viable option moving forward. By 2030, per experts, there could be hundreds more in the area.

Earlier this year, a cocaine hippo died after being struck by a car.

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