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Pablo Escobar’s Hippos Spark a Battle Over Animal Rights in Colombia

Hippos at the Hacienda Napoles theme park, once the private zoo of Pablo Escobar at his Napoles ranch, in Doradal, Colombia. 

Hippos at the Hacienda Napoles theme park, once the private zoo of Pablo Escobar at his Napoles ranch, in Doradal, Colombia. 

Photographer: Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images

When Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar was killed in 1993, he left officials with a unique problem that grows to nearly 4,000 pounds, claims hundreds of lives annually in its natural habitat, and has grabbed international attention after an Ohio federal court issued a ruling that animal activists still celebrate.

Escobar’s four hippopotamuses multiplied at his unattended estate, Hacienda Nápoles, located about 60 miles east of Medellín, Colombia. The hippos spread out and found a home in the nearby Magdalena River, and they now number nearly 100 with no clear obstacles in their path.