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Colombia: Pablo Escobar’s hippos keep his myth alive in ‘Hacienda Napoles’

Colombians flock to Pablo Escobar’s lavish estate, the ‘Hacienda Napoles’ in Puerto Triunfo, only to get a glance of the ‘parting gift’ that the infamous drug kingpin left to it’s people, a large family of hippos that has increased during the past decades from four to over 50, footage filmed on Saturday reveals.

After the death of Pablo Escobar, his estate, that included a zoo filled with exotic animals brought from many parts of the world, was taken over by the state and is currently managed by the municipality.

The majority of the animals were transferred, however little could be done for the bigger inhabitants of the zoo including four hippos, which during the past decades have grown into a family of over 50.

The myth around Pablo Escobar’s life and legacy attracted locals and foreigners wanting to get a glimpse of Escobar’s legendary hippos. Therefore, the municipality of Puerto Triunfo decided to turn the deserted ‘hacienda’ into a theme park open to visitors.

According to biologist David Echeverri, who is studying the reproduction of hippos in alien climates, “the presence of hippos in the wild is problematic given the fact that it’s an exotic species.”

For Echeverri “it becomes a problem of a possible displaced native fauna and by being a species with a very unpredictable behavior, it becomes a danger for the local population.”

Former worker Don Jose was responsible for feeding the hippos while at the estate.

According to him, the hippos “became familiar with the people, with the staff, and at the moment they walk at the feet of the people and there is no problem of any kind.”

“They have adapted very well because they found an ecosystem of tropical humid forest with certain similarities to the African ecosystem,” explained professor Ospina, who studies how the exotic species was able to reproduce in the wild.

Twenty-five years after Escobar’s death, it’s his hippos that have taken it upon themselves to tell the myth of his extravagant life.

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