‘I was terrified': the vet sterilizing Pablo Escobar's cocaine hippos

Asia's Tech News Daily

When Gina Paola Serna studied to become a biologist and veterinarian in Colombia, she never expected to one day be tasked with neutering an invasive herd of hippos that once belonged to Pablo Escobar.

‘I was terrified’: the vet sterilizing Pablo Escobar’s cocaine hippos
© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Joaquín Sarmiento/AFP/Getty Images

When they were smuggled into the drug lord’s private zoo in the 1980s, there were just four hippos. But in the 26 years since Escobar’s death, their numbers have steadily grown : the herd now includes about 80 animals – threatening to disrupt ecosystems in Colombia. So now, Serna spends her days tracking and sterilizing the hulking riverine mammals.

“The first time I worked with a hippo I was terrified – these are animals way bigger than we are used to working with in Colombia,” Serna said, before another day in the field. “These are massive and territorial animals, so everything is complicated when it comes to working with them.”

The so called “cocaine hippos” were illegally brought to Colombia and kept in a zoo Escobar built on his vast Hacienda Nápoles estate, along the River Magdalena. He brought rhinos, giraffes and zebras to his menagerie. Oral history suggests his associates were wowed by his collection of spectacular beasts of the wild, which included about 200 animals.

‘I was terrified’: the vet sterilizing Pablo Escobar’s cocaine hippos
© Provided by The Guardian A pink statue of a hippo greets tourists at Hacienda Nápoles Park in Puerto Triunfo, Colombia. Hacienda Nápoles was once a private zoo with illegally imported animals that belonged to drug trafficker Pablo Escobar. Photograph: Fernando Vergara/AP

But after El Patrón was shot dead by police on a rooftop in his hometown of Medellín, Colombian authorities seized his estate and the animals on it. Most were shipped off to zoos, though the logistics of moving the four hippos – each weighing well over a metric ton – proved insurmountable, and they were left to wander the Andes.

As many as 24 hippos have been sterilized so far, using Gonacon, an immunocontraceptive vaccine, which works temporarily but can cause permanent infertility. Originally, there were calls to cull Colombia’s hippo population, but in the end, sterilization was thought to be the more humane option.

“Obviously you can’t let these hippos keep reproducing, which is what they’ll keep doing because they are in paradise,” said Enrique Zerda Ordóñez, a professor of biology at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá, adding: “They’ll always have water, all the plants they could ever want to eat, and they can pop out of the river and eat grass with the cows.”

‘I was terrified’: the vet sterilizing Pablo Escobar’s cocaine hippos
© Photograph: Joaquín Sarmiento/AFP/Getty Images Pablo Escobar’s zoo had four illegally imported hippos. The feral herd now numbers about 80.

Rural farmers have grown fond of the wandering herd, charging tourists for a glance at the hippos that bathe on their lands, though one villager was injured last year after getting too close. Animal rights activists and conservationists have also sought to protect the hippos, vehemently protesting any initiatives to cull the animals.

“This is only a pilot project, but something had to be done,” said Robin Poches, a biologist and businessman who helped the Colombian government secure a donation of 70 doses of Gonacon from the United States Department of Agriculture. “Otherwise it’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured or killed.”

The decision to medically sterilize the animals, rather than castrate them, will save money and time-consuming work.

Castrating a hippo is no small feat, and costs about $7,000 for each animal. Hippos spend most of their time submerged in rivers, grazing on underwater flora, and only emerge at night, so the surgery would have to be performed after dark. A hippo’s reproductive organs are internal, so veterinarians have to carry out invasive procedures in order to neuter the animals.

“The surgery itself isn’t the most complicated part – the tricky thing is anaesthetising them,” said Serna, who has castrated six hippos from the herd, knocking them out with tranquilizer darts that pierce 5cm (2in)-thick skin. “It requires a whole team of people and as we don’t have those drugs for such enormous creatures available in Colombia, it is very expensive.”

The hippos are one of many enduring holdovers of Escobar’s reign of terror, which spanned from the late 70s until his death in 1993 and brought widespread murders and kidnappings. But for Serna, the animals should not be associated with the kingpin.

“The hippos are not Escobar’s legacy, they are simply animals that escaped and bred and made a home in an environment that is not their own,” Serna said. “So to me, they don’t have anything to do with Escobar.”

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Active COVID-19 cases in country below one lakh after 547 days

India added 8,954 new coronavirus infections taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 3,45,96,776, while the active cases were recorded at less than a lakh after 547 days, according ... Read more »

VIDEO: Single mum who worked in McDonald's fulfils her childhood dream of becoming a pilot against all the odds

A former McDonald’s assistant manager is flying high after achieving her dream to become a pilot. Go-getting single mum Krystel Razon, 35, refused to let daunting statistics showing that only ... Read more »

Capitol riot's 'QAnon Shaman' appeals guilty plea and 41-month prison sentence

WASHINGTON — The Arizona man who wore face paint and horns during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot filed an appeal Tuesday of his guilty plea and sentence of 41 months ... Read more »

Trial to determine if requiring women board members is legal

The Associated PressFILE – Then-California Gov. Jerry Brown talks during an interview in Sacramento, Calif., on Dec. 18, 2018. When former Gov. Brown signed the nation’s first law requiring that ... Read more »

People who survive severe COVID-19 are 2.5 times as likely to die within 12 months of becoming infected as those who didn't contract the virus, study finds

Long Covid, in which patients suffer from long-term COVID-19 symptoms, may lead to increased risk of death for a year after a patient's diagnosis, a study finds Researchers at the University of Florida analyzed health records from over 13,000 patients, following them for 12 monthsPatients who had severe Covid symptoms were 2.5 times as likely to die over the year after their diagnosis, compared with those who tested negativeYounger patients who suffered severe symptoms had a particularly high risk, being 3.3 times as likely to die as patients in that age group who tested negative The study indicates that there's 'a substantial risk of dying' from unrecognized Covid complications, one researcher said Read more »

Men who use e-cigarettes are more than twice as likely to suffer erectile dysfunction than non-smokers, study finds

Study found men who use e-cigs were 2.4 times likelier to suffer from impotencyResearchers based their findings on data gathered from 13,000 American men Drs said erection problems observed are unrelated to age or previous smokingUK expert says men should be warned about impotency before picking up e-cigs Read more »

Shocking conditions inside a nursing home where 40 elderly residents died with Covid after exposed staff were replaced

Nurse Angela Cox revealed the conditions at St Basil's Home for the AgedThe home, in north Melbourne, is under investigation after Covid outbreakA Covid outbreak saw more than 40 elderly residents passNurse Cox has revealed the poor management that led up to the outbreak  Read more »

PICTURED: Boy, 16, and girls aged 14 and 17 who were killed by Michigan school shooter just days after 'his dad bought the murder gun' - as another girl, 14, fights for her life on ventilator

Killed in Tuesday's school shooting were Tate Myre, 16, Hanna St. Julian, 14, and 17-year-old Madisyn BaldwinSchool shooter opened fire at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, a suburb north of Detroit Eight were injured, including a teacher and a 14-year-old boy who is currently critical on a ventilatorSheriff says suspect, a 15-year-old male, used 9mm Sig Sauer pistol purchased by his fatherSheriff Michael Bouchard said the suspected shooter, who is in custody, is 'not talking' about his motive  Chilling video footage shows students hiding in a barricaded classroom as the gunman tries to coax them outThe teen shooter is heard saying 'Sheriff's office. You can come out' in bid to lead classmates to the slaughterHe blew his cover when referring to a classmate as 'bro,' and terrified classmates leapt out the window  One parent said her son stayed home today because there were rumors of trouble brewing President Joe Biden addressed the incident, saying 'my heart goes out to the families' Read more »

Father-of-two was trying to fix a garbage truck when it crushed and killed him in freak accident

Darren Mewett crushed to death while trying to repair faulty garbage truckHe is understood to have been crushed by the vehicle's rubbish compactorEmergency crews attended site on Stapylton-Jacobs Well Road at YatalaMr Mewett ran a hydraulics company and recently celebrated his 53rd birthday Read more »

Eerie CCTV pictures emerge of a young man, 20, chatting to a mystery figure in a white car before he disappeared without a trace

NSW Central Coast man has been missing since Friday 26 November Strike Force McConnell has been set up to investigate the disappearancePolice want to talk to man seen on CCTV talking to the missing man  Read more »

Real Housewives of Melbourne's Gamble Breaux slams Kyla Kirkpatrick and Cherry Dipietrantonio over diva antics after they accused her of miming her new single on the show

Gamble Breaux has responded to accusations that she lip synced a performance of her new single Barrenjoey Road on the Real Housewives of Melbourne.  The 49-year-old held an album release party ... Read more »

Three teens killed by Michigan high school shooter identified

The three teens who were gunned down by a fellow student at their Michigan high school were identified Tuesday night — as authorities revealed the gunman’s father purchased the firearm ... Read more »

Tom Thibodeau, Julius Randle ‘pissed' at refs after Knicks' loss to Nets

The Knicks’ first game following the benching of Kemba Walker didn’t end with a victory, but it came with promise in taking the first-place Nets down to the final seconds ... Read more »

This Perfume Hack Will Make Your Signature Scent More Unique

© Provided by Preview.ph If you have a stash of perfume on your vanity, then you probably own popular fragrances like the Chanel N°5, Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, and ... Read more »

China ‘hunts' Taiwan nationals through forced deportation: Report

© Provided by Al Jazeera Taiwanese nationals suspected of telecom fraud were among a group deported to China by Cambodia in 2016 [File: Samrang Pring/Reuters] Beijing has been pressuring foreign ... Read more »

Selamat tinggal ‘Didi & Friends', selamat datang ‘Little Ammar'

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Watak Didi & Friends sangat popular di kalangan kanak-kanak dan ibubapa. PETALING JAYA: Selepas 10 tahun membangunkan animasi “Didi & Friends” sehingga menjadi rancangan ... Read more »

High tea with a circus: a review of Conrad Abu Dhabi's UAE National Day special show

© Provided by The National Conrad Abu Dhabi’s Up in the Air afternoon tea runs every weekend until December 8. Photo: Conrad Abu Dhabi Taking place in a hotel named ... Read more »

KDN terima laporan kartel dalam Jabatan Imigresen

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Hamzah Zainudin berkata, kartel dalam Jabatan Imigresen itu bekerjasama dengan sindiket luar untuk mengeluarkan Pas Lawatan Kerja Sementara. PUTRAJAYA: Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN) mendedahkan ... Read more »

All the Emirati designers to support now and forever

© Motivate Publishing Yasmin Al Mulla Dior In just 50 short years, the UAE has put itself on the map across all areas, particularly when it comes to fashion and ... Read more »

Coronavirus digest: US to impose stricter testing for travelers

© Provided by dw.com The move comes just weeks after the US largely reopened its borders to fully vaccinated foreign travelers The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ... Read more »

The Buzz: England's back-up plan for warm-ups

Dec 1 England’s Ashes warm-up game is going swimmingly, literally. Play was abandoned on the first day after heavy rains lashes Brisbane, but the weather was just right for some ... Read more »

Piala Dunia Remaja: Skuad negara sudah bersedia pelbagai kemungkinan

© Provided by Sinar Harian SKUAD remaja negara sudah bersedia mengharungi pelbagai kemungkinan sekiranya perlawanan suku akhir Piala Dunia Remaja menentang Perancis di Bhubaneswar, India pada Rabu berlarutan sehingga penentuan ... Read more »

Shehzada: Kriti Sanon joins Kartik Aaryan in Delhi, says 'Shehzadi in the house'

© Provided by Desimartini With each passing day, the excitement around Shehzada is elevating among the audience. Now coming in is the news that the leading lady Kriti Sanon has ... Read more »

Steigen VW, Audi und Porsche bald in die Formel 1 ein?

Die Formel-1-Saison biegt in die Zielgerade ein. Doch nicht nur der WM-Zweikampf zwischen Max Verstappen und Lewis Hamilton wirbelt viel Staub auf. Yanick Eschler gewinnt das Casting von blue Yanick ... Read more »

BREAKING NEWS: South Australia reports its FIRST case of Covid since opening up its borders to the rest of Australia WEEKS ago

South Australia has reported its first locally acquired cases of COVID-19 since reopening the state’s borders last week. SA Health says two men in their 50s have tested positive for ... Read more »

How to stack your fridge the RIGHT way - and the major mistakes you're making with fruits and veggies

CHOICE has shared its best expert tips for stacking your fridge effectivelyA well-organised fridge has the ability to keep fruit & veggies fresher for longerEggs should be kept in their original cartons rather than the plastic holders While the crisper is especially designer to keep perishables in good nick  Read more »

Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds' new action movie Red Notice is now the most watched movie in Netflix history after racking up 328 MILLION viewing hours among HALF the streamer's 214 million global viewers - despite terrible reviews

The latest Netflix action comedy film Red Notice has become the most watched movie on the streaming platform with 328 million viewsThe film starring Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot has been seen by half of Netflix's users since it premiered on November 5The number of viewings has surpassed 2018's Bird Box which saw 282 million views in four weeksDespite the success, critics have rated the film on Rotten Tomatoes at 35 percent  Read more »

Correa trial continues with testimony on DNA evidence, phone tracking

Dec. 1—Red, blue, black and purple circles dotted a map on display in New London Superior Court on Tuesday. Each color represented the whereabouts of a different cell phone on ... Read more »

Health minister Greg Hunt expected to quit politics at 2022 federal election

Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP Hunt has held the seat of Flinders since 2001 and is yet to comment on reports of his potential retirement Get our free news app; get our ... Read more »

St. Cloud woman charged with murder of infant son whose body was found in dumpster

Dec. 1—ST. CLOUD — A St. Cloud woman appeared Tuesday in Stearns County District Court for allegedly killing her child and throwing the body in a dumpster Sunday. Fardoussa Omar ... Read more »

Search warrant suggests mix of live, dummy rounds from supplier used on 'Rust' set

Dec. 1—A search warrant from the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office suggests a new theory for the prop gun shooting on Bonanza Creek Ranch that killed Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins ... Read more »

Man gets 10 years prison for sexually assaulting EC woman

Dec. 1—EAU CLAIRE — A 42-year-old Onalaska man will spend 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting a woman in April inside her Eau Claire home. Robert B. Smith was ... Read more »

Singapore contractor ‘sorry' for lapses that led to flooded junction

The flash flood on Aug. 20 along Tampines Avenue 10 and Pasir Ris Drive 12. Photo: Teo Chee Hean/Facebook Months after several vehicles became stuck in a flooded traffic junction, ... Read more »

Halle Berry agrees to multi-picture deal with Netflix following success of her directorial debut ‘Bruised' (VIDEO)

© Provided by Malay Mail In ‘Bruised’, Berry stars as a MMA fighter who tries to reclaim her power in and out of the ring, and to conquer her own ... Read more »

BSF is a boon for border populations. It can do much more than just protect them

© Provided by The Print The Border Security Force, the largest border guarding force in the world, completes 56 years of service to India on 1 December 2021. The Kutch ... Read more »

From today, negative COVID-19 test report and seven days' quarantine mandatory for international travellers to India

© Pixabay From today, negative COVID-19 test report and seven days’ quarantine mandatory for international travellers to India Centre has rolled out a new set of guidelines for international travellers ... Read more »

Fact Check: Truth behind Arjun Kapoor and Malaika Arora's breakup rumours

© Provided by BollywoodLife.com Celebrity weddings and breakups these two things never fail to grab attention from fans. Right now, everyone is waiting for Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal to ... Read more »

Money Heist: Berlin gets a spin-off, here's all you need to know

© Provided by Firstpost Money Heist: Berlin gets a spin-off, here’s all you need to know Money Heist, otherwise known as La Casa De Papel, is coming to an end ... Read more »

Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh, Nora Fatehi burn the stage with their performances at Delhi wedding

Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh, Nora Fatehi, Kiara Advani and Kriti Sanon recently grooved to their tracks at a Delhi wedding. Several videos of the star-studded affair have been shared online, ... Read more »

Richa Chadha calls Zarina of Inside Edge a 'layered and nuanced character, non-trapped by conventions'

© Provided by Desimartini Inside Edge season 3 is almost upon us and the excitement and hype is real. The game behind the game gets to a whole new level ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic