Pablo Escobar's Feral Hippos to Be Steralised

Hippos stand in their enclosure in Sofia city zoo Stoyan Nenov/REUTERS

Pablo Escobar's hippos, who have been wreaking havoc in the Colombian jungle for the past 20 years, are now to be steralised. The animals, which first escaped from Escobar's large private zoo in 1993, have been multiplying ever since and there are now up to 60 living off of vegetation and farmer's crops in the lush tropical climate in the northern province of Antioquia.

Government officials are using money seized from drug traffickers to fund the sterilization of the the escaped animals, which pose a considerable threat to the public. The animals are known to be very aggressive toward humans, especially when encountered in the wild.

Escobar's estate has been empty and degenerating since his death in 1993, when he was shot by the Colombian national police. The area was thereafter looted by bandits who suspected that money and drugs were hidden inside. Although many of the animals in the drug lord's private menagerie were dispersed to zoos, the hippos were not, leaving them to breed freely in the wild.

The government has long debated what to do with the animals. While there were initial attempts to round them up, the efforts came to a standstill in 2009 following public outrage at one of the hippos being shot and killed.

Despite being left to decay for over a decade, in 2008 Escobar's former estate was transformed into the largest theme park in South America, Parque Tematico Hacienda Napoles (Hacienda Napoles Theme Park). For $30 (£19) tourists can walk the grounds, dedicated to environmental and animal protection.