Image by Francesco Ungaro

Los hipopótamos de Colombia

Image by Lisette Verwoerd



We Have A chance to save the hippos and create balance in the ecosystem before it is too late

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Hippos in Colombia?


  • In 1981 Pablo Escobar imported to Colombia four hippopotamuses (one male, three females) for his personal zoo in the Hacienda Nápoles, not far from Medellin, Colombia.

  • When Escobar was killed in 1993, most animals from his hacienda were removed, except the hippos, who continued to be cared for on Hacienda Nápoles, which is located on rolling pastures which include wetlands and bodies of water associated with the Magdalena River.

  • Unlike African hippos who are territorial and dangerous because of scarce resources and drought in their environment, Colombian Hippos thrive in the wet, tropical climate of their Colombian surroundings.

The Problem


  • We estimate that there are now approximately 100+ Colombian Hippos (no definitive census has yet been done).  Over time, some of these have wandered off the Hacienda Nápoles, travelling into the Mid-Magdalena River and floodplain.

  • A few years ago, the Colombian government passed legislation to protect the hippos after Colombians were outraged and carried out demonstrations over the army’s killing of a hippo that was deemed dangerous.  At the time, there were discussions about addressing the population increase, but no action was taken.

  • Although there is no established evidence of harm to the ecosystem, the protected status of Colombian Hippos hangs in the balance today, as scientists and others raise alarm about the future consequences to the environment and endemic species, such as nutrias, manatees and fish, if hippos are allowed to reproduce unchecked.  

  • Culling/killing Colombian Hippos is often being recommended today by scientists and others, because this is considered the easiest and cheapest “solution”.

The Animal Balance Solution


  • Animal Balance (AB) veterinarian, Dr. Isa Naudín is based in Medellin, Colombia, and is formulating an approach that creates a humane resolution to this human-caused issue, and which takes into account the wellbeing of the people living in proximity of the hippos, the ecosystem, and the right of the hippos to live out their lives.

  • Dr. Isa and Animal Balance are bringing together key scientists, researchers and veterinarians to create a plan for sterilizing at least 80% of the Colombian Hippo population in five years, in order to reduce the rate of reproduction; plus AB is helping to seek funding for this program.  This is a huge undertaking because of the challenges posed by hippos’ size and weight, anatomy, and their semi-aquatic habits.  In fact, in order to provide the safest/shortest surgeries possible, the surgical procedures will be tubal ligations and vasectomies, versus spays and neuters.

  • Temporary non-surgical birth control agents will be administered to the hippos during the project, in order to immediately begin achieving a reduced rate of reproduction.

  • Humane education about introduced species, ecosystems and promoting the respect for all living beings will be carried out with local NGO’s and the communities living in proximity of the Colombian Hippos.

Click THE VIDEO to learn more

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As of 15 August 2020

The hippo has been released

Hippos on the Magdalena

Read more here 

*equipo de cirujanos de la universidad CES, Colombia

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