LIFESTYLE

Pablo Escobar's hungry, hungry hippos have left Colombian town in state of fear

LULIMIBI, EASTERN DRC - JULY 31: Recovering hippo populations close to the ICCN Ranger station on July 31, 2013 in Lulimibi, Lake Edward. Lake Edward once housed the largest hippo population in the world, a figure decimated by conflict since 1994. Hippo meat formed a staple of the diet of armies and militias alike, reducing the population to a figure close to 600 of what was once over 30 000. Lulimibi is in the 'Block V' area of Virunga National Park. UK company Soco International PLC is planning to explore for oil in DRC's Virunga National Park, a protected World Heritage Site and most biodiverse park in Africa. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images for WWF-Canon)

LULIMIBI, EASTERN DRC - JULY 31: Recovering hippo populations close to the ICCN Ranger station on July 31, 2013 in Lulimibi, Lake Edward. Lake Edward once housed the largest hippo population in the world, a figure decimated by conflict since 1994. Hippo meat formed a staple of the diet of armies and militias alike, reducing the population to a figure close to 600 of what was once over 30 000. Lulimibi is in the 'Block V' area of Virunga National Park. UK company Soco International PLC is planning to explore for oil in DRC's Virunga National Park, a protected World Heritage Site and most biodiverse park in Africa. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images for WWF-Canon)  (2013 Getty Images)

A pair of hungry, hungry hippos in Colombia have made their way into a town outside of Medellín in search of some grub after a severe drought dried up much of their grazing lands near rivers and lakes.

The two hippopotamuses, who are descendants of those brought to Colombia in the 1980s by infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar, are scaring residents in the town of Puerto Triunfo after being seen grazing alongside local cattle and even wandering through the streets.

Parents are warning their children to stay away from these plus-sized plant-eaters, because while they may be portrayed as gentle giants, hippos kill more people annually in Africa – where they are indigenous- than any other wild animal. The Bill Gates Foundation credits hippos with killing up to 500 people a year.

Biologists are planning to tranquilize the two free range hippos with a dart gun before transporting them back to safe location.

While Escobar imported numerous exotic animals – including elephants and giraffes – to keep on his Hacienda Napoles ranch, the four hippos he brought – one male and three females – not only became beloved by Colombians after the drug lord's death on a Medellín rooftop in 1993, but were also prolific breeders. 

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Most of the animals at Hacienda Napoles were dispersed throughout zoos in Colombia after Escobar's death, but the hippos have remained and multiplied their ranks to around 60 nationwide. The creatures thrive in Colombia's tropical climate with its multiple waterways and thick vegetation.

After Hacienda Napoles fell into disrepair, sightings of hippos began to appear far from the ranch.

There has also been a heated debate over the years about what to do with the hippos and if they should be culled, but they have become so popular in Colombia that some families have even taken the young hippo calves into their homes as pets.

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