One of deceased drug lord Pablo Escobar’s ‘cocaine hippos’ has attacked a man out fishing with pals and put him in hospital with multiple injuries.
Escobar, who was shot dead in December 1993, bought four hippos to live at his Hacienda Napoles estate in the town of Puerto Triunfo in the north-western Colombian department of Antioquia, which have now become a family of around 80.
Many of Escobar’s other animals were captured and relocated after his death, however the hippos proved difficult to catch and have multiplied in numbers since the drug lord suffered a fatal gunshot through the ear while trying to flee the authorities.
They were allowed to stay on the land but soon escaped to an area around the Magdalena River.
Jorge Caro Lopez, a vet at Hacienda Napoles, now a theme park, said their growth cannot be controlled and they already inhabit various areas in the sub-region of Magdalena Medio Antioquia, adding that some areas “look like Africa”.
One man was attacked by a hippo while fishing with his son on 31st October, according to the news site Infobae.
It is believed the injured man was instinctively attacked by a mother protecting her young calf. It is the second time in a year that a hippo attack has occurred in the area.
Jhon Aristides Saldarriaga Marquez, 31, was fishing at a lake in the village of Napoles in the district of Doradal, next to the municipality of Puerto Triunfo, with two friends and the nine-year-old boy when the hippo struck, according to Infobae.
He said: “The animal came after me, it hit me in the eye. I backed away and managed to run a bit, but I tripped and the hippo attacked me. I think it had a baby with it.”
Tulio Hernan Ramirez, director of the San Esteban de Puerto Triunfo Health Cooperative, said: “The victim had several injuries to his left arm, the left side of his chest, as well as a blow to the head.”
Escobar’s ‘cocaine hippos’ hit the headlines last month when a US court ruled that they should be legally considered people to save them from being culled by the Colombian authorities.
They became the first non-human species to be recognised as ‘interested persons’ due to the Colombian authorities’ ongoing discussions to kill the hippos because they are considered by some experts to be an invasive species.
The District Court for the Southern District of Ohio recognised the animals as legal persons for the first time in US history on 15th October.
On behalf of the hippos, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed an application in Colombia on the same day in an attempt to prevent them from culling the animals.
In May 2019, a large hippo was filmed walking around a residential area as dogs barked at it. The incident was filmed by a stunned onlooker in the municipality of Doradal.