Pablo Escobar's Hippos Are Out of Control
A couple of years ago. I read a novella called river of teeth by sarah gaily. The concept of the story is based on a real world event. That almost happened smack. In the early twentieth century a bill was proposed in the us house of representatives and informally supported by theodore roosevelt. The us should import hippopotamuses from africa to the swamp lands of the gulf coast and breed them as an alternative meat source for americans basically starting a new industry in the us of hill. Ranching as you know this proposal never came to be but gala novella now collected into a volume with a sequel and some other stories under the title american hippo imagines magic in alternative history where this did happen only set fifty years earlier. You get kind of gulf coast cowboys on hippos tape story. It's great loved it. I highly recommend it. Or if you just wanna dig more into the facts. I put link in the show notes to a long read on the history of the hippo proposal by john. Mouallem will the reason i bring. This up is because americans in the early twentieth century. Were not the only ones with dreams of becoming hbo ranchers decades later pablo escobar would also get into the hippo game importing four of them to live on his estate in columbia and now forty some years later they have bread and multiplied and are spreading all over the wetlands of north bogo. Talk causing mayhem. Consternation and some real concerns for the region. Scientists say this now invasive species is competing with native wildlife polluting local waterways attacking humans and they project will grow in number two fifteen hundred hippos by twenty forty at that point the scientists say they will be nearly impossible to control their environmental impacts will be irreversible but never mind controlling fifteen hundred hippos. How do you control a dozen or even just one. That's not like you can just google it you know. In colombian officials are not hippopotamus experts and there are unique challenges levied upon this specific situation. I quoting the washington post in their natural habitat. Hippos spend the long dry season crowded into waterways shrunk to puddles. They're vulnerable to disease and predation not to mention one. Another as bad tempers but tropical columbia is hippo paradise. Environmental agency researcher david vary lopez said rain is abundant food is plentiful and they're no carnivores large enough to pose a threat. The animals spend five hours a day grazing on grasses and the rest of their time basking in the cool waters of the magdalena and surrounding lakes and quotes report from columbia not being the hippos natural habitat having in effect on the hippos behavior it also affects the surrounding communities impression of the hippos. The officials tasked with dismantling escobar's estate back in the ninety s. Weren't sure what to do with the one male and three female hippos so they just let them roam instead of sending them to a zoo with his other animals and mostly they did that because the hippos were massive and aggressive no one really wanted to approach them so we'll get the harm be and letting them go well. Kenyans and other african communities with native hippo populations could tell you a whole heck of a lot. You've got hippos from each sex so they can breathe for one and they're also hugely destructive to the environment into other animals. Hippos killed more humans each year than other large mammal. But when you don't grow up around hippos you don't necessarily know that so the hippos have become something of a mascot and columbia. According again gift shops in nearby puerto trail info sell hippo keychains and t shirts at the amusement park that was built on the site of escobar's former pleasure palace. Visitors can tour the lake where several dozen hippos now live occasionally one will plot into a nearby community looking as blase as a shopper on his way to the grocery store the hippopotamuses. The town pets resident claudia. Patricia camacho told the local news in two thousand eighteen. You could say that he now takes to the streets as if it were his own and quote but the hippos aren't as friendly as they may look on t shirts. They terrorize farms and hurt residents at times. The government has ordered the hippos to be shot on sight but there's been pushback from animal rights organizations and local residents so then they tried putting the hippos in a pin but and this is one of the mini quotes from this article. That honestly sounds straight hundred jurassic park. Etcheverry said i didn't know they could jump hikes so then they tried big pens with high enough walls that the hippos can't jump onto them. They've also been focused on trying to prevent them from breeding by cuisine. And then castrating the males. They've been through a steep hippo anatomy learning curve on that front though. Not even being sure where to look. For the animals external reproductive organs turns out. It's a bit complicated. They finally got a system of castration down. But it's costly and complicated so they can only do about one year but the estimates are that the population grows ten percent a year and apart from the bodily harm humans and the destruction of farms the hippos as they multiply host of other problems quoting again. A twenty twenty study of hippo inhabited lakes found that nutrients from the animal's feces were fuelling huge. Plumes of area an algae. These intern reduced the oxygen content of the water. Making it toxic to fish.