Two hippopotamuses, the BBC reports, descended from those imported into Colombia by Pablo Escobar in the 1980s, have been seen grazing in fields with cattle in the town of Puerto Triunfo, near the city of Medellin, forced there by drought.
When the Colombian government confiscated Escobar’s ranch, Hacienda Napoles, in the early ‘90s, most of the exotic animals the drug kingpin had smuggled in were relocated to zoos around the country. The hippos, however, were left in their lakes—three females and one male.
The animals eat tons of vegetation and farmers’ crops.
There have been years of debate about what to do with them and discussions about whether they should be culled.
But many Colombians like them and there there have even been cases of calves being taken home as pets.
Five years ago, the authorities shot and killed one of the hippos on the Escobar estate and the incident caused outrage. The hunt for other animals was called off.
But the government says the hippos pose a public safety risk and is funding the sterilisations from money seized from drug traffickers.
According to the BBC, local biologists say they’re waiting for specialist dart guns with which to sedate the hippos in Puerto Triunfo before moving them. They’ve told children to steer clear of the vegetarian—but violent—beasts.