If you do not know what the front half of this headline means, well, let me start there because the second part is pretty easy to explain (comparatively speaking).
Pablo Escobar, as everyone knows, was a massive drug dealer. Maybe the most famous drug dealer ever. Well, as he had near infinite wealth, he decided he was going to bring hippos to his compound as pets — because why not — but when he was killed by authorities there was no real plan to do anything with them.
Several of the hippos eventually escaped the compound and began breeding. They also have no natural predators in Columbia, so there is no way to keep their population down — so they went from four to just over 100 in no time. Experts predict that it could exponentially grow to the 1000s by 2040, if nothing is done.
Oh, they also are massive, invasive, and can live for 50 years. So kind of a problem.
Columbia has decided that it was going to start sterilizing them. And sort of just let time handle the rest… so far, they have sterilized 24.
Wellllllll, that is not good news for some folks. Folks that do not live in Columbia. Folks from America, of course.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is arguing that a different contraceptive medicine should be used and have made suggestions for procedures with ‘historical success’ when used on captive hippos that should be used.
Which leads us to the second part of the headline: The US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio has decided that the ‘community of hippopotamuses living in the Magdalena River’ should be considered interested persons in the case. Which could (in theory) pave the way for “experts” to give evidence in the Colombian case on US soil.
There you have it, Pablo Escobar’s Cocaine Hippo Herd…. are actually People.
Stephen Wells, the executive director for ALDF, said, “The court’s order authorising the hippos to exercise their legal right to obtain information in the United States is a critical milestone in the broader animal status fight to recognise that animals have enforceable rights.
“Animals have the right to be free from cruelty and exploitation, and the failure of US courts to recognise their rights [in other cases] impedes the ability to enforce existing legislative protections.”
According to The Guardian, Enrique Zerda Ordóñez, a biologist at Colombia’s National University, told CNN earlier this year that chemical castration was the only way forward but acknowledged that sterilizing a hippo is no easy task.
How this will go down, I don’t know.
What I do know is that it is pretty crazy that a hippo is now a person. I mean, why not.