Pablo Escobar 2014 06 27
Colombia's notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar was killed by police in 1993. Image: Thierry Ehrmann, Flickr

The infamous Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar (also known as the 'The King of Cocaine') died back in 1993, struck down by a bullet to the head (more on that here). Two decades later, the town he once called home is trying to deal with an Escobarian legacy of the zoological kind: a multiplying herd of hippopotami that's happily ensconced around the grounds of his luxurious estate.

If there is one thing a mega-rich drug baron needs it's a personal zoo – and Escobar had one, complete with giraffes, ostriches, antelopes, exotic birds ... and four hippos (three females and one male). After his death, the entire estate, known as Hacienda Napoles, was confiscated by the Colombian government, and Escobar's animals were relocated to other zoos around the country ... well, most of them. The hippos stayed behind, relishing the wet Colombian climate and breeding with astounding zeal.

 Pablo Escobar Estate 2014 06 27
Most of the hippos are still confined to Escobar's once-luxurious estate, Hacienda Napoles. Image: La mujer elefante, Flickr

The BBC now reports that the hippos are so happy in their adopted Colombian home that they're starting to pose a bit of a problem. Most are still wallowing in a lake on the grounds of Hacienda Napoles, but a few have been more pioneering, moving beyond the estate into a nearby river, making nocturnal forays in the countryside and reportedly crushing the occasional cow. Wildlife authorities are increasingly worried that locals in the area, unfamiliar with the less-than-friendly temperament of the deceptively cutesy-looking hippo, are at risk. 

So what's to be done with this hippo heritage? Relocating the huge animals would be a beast of a task – and authorities don't really know where they would put them, anyway. Colombia's zoos don't have the space and sending the hippos back to their ancestral African home is not an option due to a risk of disease. Other solutions being thrown around are castration and a special reserve ringed by a hippo-proof fence. 

With as many as 60 Escobarian hippos roaming about, it's proving a tough problem to crack. 

For the full story, head on over to the BBC website.

Top header image: Doug Zwick, Flickr