You think you have trouble? What if you had a herd of hungry-hungry-hippos in your backyard? What if they came to dinner and refused to leave? Consider if you will, the strange case of Pablo Escobar’s legacy of Columbian hippos.

On a recent fact finding trip to our nation’s Capital, I read an article in the Washington Post by Jonathan Edwards about Columbia’s hippo hostage situation. Allow me to elaborate.

Once upon a time, in the country of Columbia, there was an international drug dealer named Pablo Escobar. He was a very successful drug dealer. He sold lots of drugs, ran a huge cartel and caused the deaths of lots of people. He was not the sort of fellow who you would want to move in next door to you.

Pablo made a lot of what used to be called ill-gotten gains from his criminal enterprises. He made many monies. More than he could spend. Poor Pablo, what could he do? He had all this money burning a hole in his Swiss bank accounts and money bins. So much money, so little time to spend it all.

Then one day in the 1980s Pablo had a moment of clarity. Eureka! He would build a zoo. Zoos need two things to work — animals and money. He had the money, now all he had to do was buy the animals. Pablo set to work and bought lots of critters including four hippos.

Like the Carolina Tar Heels’ marching band which is the Pride of the ACC, Pablo’s zoo was the pride of the drug cartels. For quite a while Pablo’s zoo was the talk of the town. But like George Harrison once sang, "All Things Must Pass".

Pablo came to an unfortunate end, one day in 1993, when the Columbian Army caused him to have a sudden case of lead poisoning from which he expired. Like little Jackie Paper in "Puff the Magic Dragon," Pablo would come no more to feed and admire his hippos.

It was bigly sad.

The Columbian Army was not in the business of zoo keeping. They sold off most of the animals except for the hippos. They left hippos alone hoping they would have the good sense to die. It did not turn out that way.
Hippos are made of sterner stuff. Taking a cue from Mr. Spock, Pablo’s hippos have lived long and prospered. Unlike "Puff the Magic Dragon," the hippos did not sadly slip back into their cave. Rather, it turned out hippos really like Columbia.

It reminded them of being back home in Africa. Hippos have no natural enemies in Columbia.

The weather and jungles are perfect, a virtual hippo heaven. The hippos were happier than the proverbial pig in poop.

The hippos got frisky and multiplied. Where there were once four hippos there are now between 80 and 120 hippos. Columbian hippo experts predict unless something is done by 2039 there will be over 14 hundred free range hippos.

This presents a real problem. While hippos in the abstract are cute, 14 hundred hippos are not. They eat stuff. They trample crops. Their poop causes algae blooms that can kill fish. They drive out native animals and plants. In short, they are an invasive species, like Uncle Harold who came to dinner and now refuses to leave.

What to do? The Columbian government realized that killing the hippos is a public relations nightmare. Hippos have become a tourist attraction bringing in money. The local citizens have become hippo positive. They love them some hippos. When several hippos went on a rampage, the government shot them including a crowd favorite hippo named Pepe. When a picture of a hunter standing over the late great Pepe came out, the locals protested so angrily future hunts were called off.

If executing hippos is off the table, what options remain? Jeff Bezos has refused to take hippos into outer space on the Blue Origin because no hippo has $250,000 for a ticket.

Taking a herd of hippos to the Mexican/American border to seek asylum would be almost impossible because there aren’t enough cowboys with hippo driving experience. Can you imagine the damage a stampede of hippos would cause? The mind boggles.

In order to avoid a hippo border crisis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture donated a hippo contraceptive called GonaCon which effectively kills the mood for amorous hippos by suppressing their boy and girl urges. Hippos on GonaCon would rather eat than make whoopee.

Gentle reader, though you may have troubles, be glad your issues do not include hippos.

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