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Feral Hippopotamus in Colombia

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by lamna, 26 Jun 2014.

  1. lamna

    lamna Well-Known Member

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    Just read a pretty interesting article on BBC News. Apparently Pablo Escobar had is own zoo back in the 80's, after he was killed most of the animals were sent to other zoos, but the small herd of hippos stayed and have breed and thrived.

    Apparently there about 50-60 still living semi-wild at the park, with at least a dozen having escaped into the Magdalena River.

    BBC News - Pablo Escobar?s hippos: A growing problem
     
  2. Pootle

    Pootle Well-Known Member

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    I think this is pretty cool. It would be very interesting to continue to let them breed until a bigger potentially sustainable population could thrive then we may see some interesting genetic traits arise that suit their environment which will be way off their African cousins and a sub or new species formed over time.

    As long as the hippos are not affecting the natural habitats flora and fauna in a negative way, I think this sort of practice could save species in the future.
     
  3. zooman

    zooman Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    What a great story!
     
  4. lamna

    lamna Well-Known Member

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    The practice of letting drug lords build private zoos and letting the animals escape? :p

    I think it's very cool, and I seriously doubt that they will cause much environmental disruption, and if they didn't it's not like they would be that hard to eliminate.

    But you have to remember how dangerous hippopotamus are. I'd be disappointed if locals decide they don't want them around anymore, but I won't be surprised.

    It could be very good for the local economy though, with the conflict (hopefully) winding down these could be a real draw for tourists and trophy hunters.

    The first link has an audio interview, the second has a National Geographic video.
    Pablo Escobar may be long gone, but his hippos are still a big problem for Colombia | Public Radio International
    10 more hippos escape from Pablo Escobar's ex-ranch - Colombia News | Colombia Reports
     
  5. AthleticBinturong

    AthleticBinturong Well-Known Member

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    There was a ng wild programme about it
     
  6. KEEPER

    KEEPER Well-Known Member

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    Feral animals are a huge problem for the native ecosystems. So all the hippos must be captured (or hunted) ASAP and not allow the population growth more and more without any control.
     
  7. toto98

    toto98 Well-Known Member

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    Most of the animals are living in an enclosed environment in the Hacienda Napoles, which has been renovated into a zoo/water park, but the problem is with the iindividuals which left the place before it was controlled, and it has been proved that they cause negative impact on the environment, as the place in which they live is a common area for species such as manatees which live in the magdalena river and the local communities have also been affected. Most of the environmental institutions in Colombia are in favor of culling them, but there are some (uninformed) "pro-environment"groups which are against it. The animals have been offered to different zoos but they are either unable to sustain them, or they already have hippos, it is important to mention the fact that only the feral individuals would be killed, as the rest of the population is living in an enclosed environment.

    ps. The Hacienda Napoles has reports that the original animals came from the San Diego Zoo. I dont know if this is true or not, but it would be shocking to know that such a clean institution would give animals to a person like Escobar was.

    2 ps. There was also another drug dealer zoo named "Hacienda Veracruz" and when this "zoo" closed seeral zoos went to rescue the animals, many of which had been abandoned for months and died fairly quickly.
     
  8. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    I've heard of this. I'm wondering, are they causing much damage to the local environment?
     
  9. lamna

    lamna Well-Known Member

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    Feral animals can be a problem, but sometimes they don't do any harm and sometimes they have a positive impact on the ecosystems. Take rabbits in Britain for example.

    I wouldn't have thought that hippos and manatees would have problems, since hippos mostly feed on land while manatees eat aquatic plants.

    Do the hippo act aggressively towards them? Or do they churn up the water and stop the plants growing? Something else?
     
  10. KEEPER

    KEEPER Well-Known Member

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    Many thanks for your great explanation about the real situation toto98.
     
  11. toto98

    toto98 Well-Known Member

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    The situation is not as easy as people might imagine, as the hippos are displacing the native mammals (manatees for example) from the undisturbed parts of the river into more exploited parts, in which they are hunted or they just cant live because of the heavy contamination.

    Another problem is that the population is growing really REALLY fast, the sexual maturity is achieved much earlier than in their native africa, meaning that they can breed faster, and with a settled population, the extra males are expelled from the group, and some have even escaped the enclosed area in which they are kept in.
     
  12. toto98

    toto98 Well-Known Member

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    you´re welcome

    One last fact, the Humboldt institute director, Brigitte LG Baptiste, which is a renown environmetal institute is in favor of killing the individuals, as they can create a huge environmetal impact, some of which they describe as modifying the ecosystem, as they can even change the river courses, or rupture river banks.
     
  13. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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  14. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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  15. TZFan

    TZFan Well-Known Member

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    Animal Planet recently had a documentary about the hippos called Drug Kingpins Hippos or something close to that. It said they came from the states but didnt say where exactly. Part of the reason they have been left according to the documentary was that they were too dangerous to move. As for other zoos not wanting them a good part of that problem is they are incredibly inbred. All of the hippos are the descendants of just 4 original hippos. They are now trying to fix all the males whenever they are forced to knock them out anyway. Umm I cant remember any other cool things from the documentary. For those of you interested try to find it on youtube.
     
  16. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    I still cannot figure out why WAZA zoos have not stepped in to help out and perhaps remove all hippos from the ecosystem (with some reps going into established breeding programs left right or center)? :confused:
     
  17. wensleydale

    wensleydale Well-Known Member

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    If they can't find a place for them then fine, they should euthanize them. Hippos are dangerous and they are invasive in this case.
     
  18. Pleistohorse

    Pleistohorse Well-Known Member

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    Land bridge, vegetation raft, frozen lake, human interference....other than isolated islands or situations resulting in severe economic impact or threat to human life (iffy when you consider some reintroductions)...let life find it's way. A second continental population of hippos, properly managed in suitable habitat....why not? If the impact to manatees is detrimental, ok, take the hippos out. Otherwise, I'd let them stay. Consider the Pere David's Deer or the Mongolian Wild Horse (each preserved somewhat in a semi-wild state far from home). Or the Dromedary, Banteng, and Water Buffalo (more controversially) in Australia. Of course I think the Eastern Coyote should be introduced into Great Britain and Ireland, Asian and African Wild Asses to North America, the Amur Tiger to south-east Alaska, and that La Isla Sorna be left completely alone! So I'm not really the one to ask....
     
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  19. Pleistohorse

    Pleistohorse Well-Known Member

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    Although I admit to being pathological regarding free-roaming African Wildcats that are otherwise fed at home or at "cat feeding stations".....ugh. I own three (several thousand generations removed from the parent species) and keep them indoors and belled (in the event they get outside).
     
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  20. ABQZoo Guy

    ABQZoo Guy Member

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    My understanding is he bought them from a private dealer in New Orleans.