New York Daily News: MANHATTAN, By Brandon Sapienza – Decades after the notorious druglord Pablo Escobar died, the remnants of his private zoo remain, including the family of hippos. Now, officials believe they’ve found a solution to a growing problem.

The hippos were brought to Colombia in the 1980s and the hippo population of four originals has grown to 80 since their arrival. The rapidly growing population has caused biologists to worry about the animal’s environmental impact and possible threat to humans.

After several attempts to neuter the animals, the government gave up, adding that the surgeries would be too risky to undertake at such a large scale. Additionally, with a success rate of only 11 hippos neutered, the process is slow-moving, CNN reported.

On Friday, Cornare, the regional environmental agency shared a new a new project that they were undertaking to bring the hippo population down to a more manageable number

With the announcement the agency said that 24 more hippos have been treated using a dart method filled with the contraceptive drug GonaCon.

The procedure is “a much cheaper option,” a Cornare statement claims. “However it is still complex since experts suggest giving three doses, based on studies and comparisons made in other large animals such as horses.”

Hippos are seen at a care centre in Doradal, Antioquia Department, northeast of Bogota, on Oct. 15, 2021.
Hippos are seen at a care centre in Doradal, Antioquia Department, northeast of Bogota, on Oct. 15, 2021. (-/AFP via Getty Images)

The drug has previously been tested on other animals in the U.S. and the Australian kangaroo population.

Scientists are now evaluating the success of the contraceptive.

“It is the first time that we are implementing this procedure. We are going to follow up and monitor it to find out how successful it can be,” said David Echeverri López, coordinator of the Cornare Forest and Biodiversity Group.

The population of hippos has rapidly spread around the Magdalena river basin from their zoo home to areas 100 miles east of Medellin. Their negative effects have been well documented with their waste causing low levels of oxygen in the water. A recent hippo attack in May 2020 also left a 45-year-old man seriously injured.

  • Top Feature Photo: In this photo taken on July 15, 2018 hippo Jakira is pictured eating a cake made out of fruit during the celebration of her 4 year birthday at the Santa Fe zoo, in Medellin, Colombia – JOAQUIN SARMIENTO/AFP via Getty Images