The hippo, named “Orion,” is accustomed to the more glamorous surroundings of the Hacienda Napoles, Escobar’s finca outside Medellin, where the infamous drug lord would entertain guests with exotic animals, including giraffes, flamingos and elephants.
Orion is now living quietly in the city’s zoo. He is more fortunate than many of his former companions at the cocaine-fuelled ranch, some of whom escaped when the estate was seized by the authorities. The freed animals multiplied in the years following Escobar’s death in 1993, roaming the countryside around the Magdalena River, but have since been hunted by the Colombian government.
Experts in wildlife management last year recommended castration or death for the unlucky animals, which were damaging crops and threatening people. In June, one of the fugitive hippos, known as “Pepe”, was gunned down by private security forces commissioned by the Colombian government, a fate not unlike that of his former master Pablo.
Orion, meanwhile, is living peacefully in Medellin zoo, and receiving visits from a dentist to check the condition of his teeth.