Colombian bounty hunters shot and killed one of three hippopotami which escaped from a private zoo owned by the late Medellín Cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar. The hippos broke out of the zoo, on the drug lord’s Hacienda Napoles in Antioquia department, in 2006 and thrived in the nearby Magdalena River. Officials say the animals are a threat to people and crops, and that all three have to be destroyed. Colombian TV broadcast images of the carcass of the fully grown male hippo, surrounded by hunters and soldiers. Animal rights groups reacted angrily to the killing. “They could have been captured and kept in a safe place until a permanent refuge was found for them,” said Marcela Ramírez of the local Animal Protection Network.
Escobar amassed a collection of hundreds of exotic animals at his large ranch outside Medellín. Colombian authorities seized the hacienda after the kingpin—once listed by Forbes as one of the world’s 10 richest people—was killed by police in 1993. Many of the abandoned animals died of hunger as the property fell into ruin. Some two dozen hippos remains at the ranch. (BBC News, July 11; AFP, June 29)
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