Er… judge… about those hippos…


I’m still laughing after reading this report.

The offspring of hippos once owned by Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar can be recognized as people or “interested persons” with legal rights in the US following a federal court order.

The case involves a lawsuit against the Colombian government over whether to kill or sterilize the hippos whose numbers are growing at a fast pace and pose a threat to biodiversity.

An animal rights groups is hailing the order as a milestone victory in the long-sought efforts to sway the US justice system to grant animals personhood status. But the order won’t carry any weight in Colombia where the hippos live, a legal expert said.

. . .

The “cocaine hippos” are descendants of animals that Escobar illegally imported to his Colombian ranch in the 1980s when he reigned over the country’s drug trade. After his death in a 1993 shootout with authorities, the hippos were abandoned at the estate and left to thrive with no natural predators — their numbers have increased in the last eight years from 35 to somewhere between 65 and 80.

A group of scientists has warned that the hippos pose a major threat to the area’s biodiversity and could lead to deadly encounters with humans. They are advocating for some of the animals to be killed. A government agency has started sterilizing some of the hippos, but there is a debate on what are the safest methods.

There’s more at the link.

I know a fair amount about hippos, having had a few up-close-and-personal encounters with the critters.  I wrote about common misconceptions about them a few years ago.  A few days later, I noted the existence of the Colombian hippos, and how they were spreading into surrounding waterways.  Earlier this year, we noted a comment by a Colombian expert that “Efforts to castrate hippos are not as easy as you would think” (to which my response can only be:  “No s***, Sherlock!!!”).

By now, I’d guess there are well over a hundred living and breeding in Colombian rivers.  Within five to ten years there’ll be several hundred.  It’s an absolutely ideal environment for them, rich in food and with no natural predators whatsoever.  They’ll take over the river systems throughout the country, and then spread further.  Give it a century or two, and they might become apex predators in the Amazon River!  They might have been controlled by culling the entire population in the first year or two after they made their escape.  Now . . . forget about it.  They’ll retreat into the streams and jungle of Central America, and those looking for them will never find them all.  They’re established, and they’re going to stay that way.  It’s what they do best.  (You’ll find a number of videos of them on YouTube.)

Therefore, the news that a judge in Cincinnati, Ohio, has decided that hippos have “interested persons” status before the court is cause for a certain amount of hilarity.  I don’t know if she’s ever seen a hippo in the flesh, or been overly close to one, but allow me to assure her:  in the wild, the average hippo regards the average human as a pest, a nuisance, and something to be removed with extreme prejudice whenever possible.  To call a hippo a “person” is probably about the worst insult the hippo could imagine!

Also, to the hippy-dippy “conservationists” who are proposing mass sterilization of the Colombian hippos rather than culling them:  I have news for you.  Please do go ahead.  Show us how it’s done.  I want to sell tickets to your performance on pay-per-view.  The amount of (human) gore that will probably result is sure to be impressive.  Adult hippos weigh up to two tons, and sometimes more.  They have an attitude, to put it mildly, and are extraordinarily well equipped to put that attitude on display at the drop of a hat (and drop it themselves if necessary).  The late professional hunter in Africa, Peter Hathaway Capstick, wrote of them in a collection of his magazine columns titled “Last Horizons“:

The hippopotamus is, without any doubt, the most incredibly underrated dangerous animal in the world.

. . .

[Hippos] leave the water after dark to eat terrestrial grasses and shoots, often traveling ten or more miles a night in search of the forage to keep their rock-hard, thick-skinned bodies going.  In many African reserves and parks, overpopulations of hippos have destroyed the habitat for miles on each side of the rivers, necessitating the cropping of excess animals.

When a hippo leaves his aquatic home and is no longer in the security of his watery territory, he becomes as homicidally neurotic as Son of Sam.  And that’s just when he’s healthy.  If he’s recently had a slashing, blood-foaming battle with a rival and is in terrible pain from the long cuts and gouges left by the knife-sharp fighting tusks of his enemy, his temperament is about like that of nitroglycerine heated in a double boiler.  Definitely, shall we say, unstable.

Most big game is decidedly unpredictable, but not so much as the hippo.  If you manage to blunder your way between him and the water, he will usually charge.  A decent-sized bull hippo will shade two and a half tons, and if you’re under the impression that he’s either slow or clumsy, you had better stay away from any African water bigger than a damp sponge.  He can put that five thousand pounds of muscle into overdrive as fast as any rhino or Cape buffalo, and if he catches you, you’ll probably be a lot worse off.  He has four fighting tusks as thick as pick handles and as sharp as the edge of this page.  Whetting against each other as they do, they stay sharp throughout the animal’s life.  On a normal bull, the exposed portion of the lower tusks will reach from gum line to tip about the same distance as between your elbow and your wrist.  They will also penetrate your chest with the greatest of ease, which you might consider undesirable.

. . .

A hippo charge from close range gives one the feeling of being attacked by an oversized grand piano with the lid open.  The mouth will open, exposing the tusks as he gathers speed, throwing a wake like a landing craft.  Some I have seen were making more noise than a Moog synthesizer with a major short circuit;  others were completely silent.  Noisy or silent, he’ll have your absolute, undivided attention – I promise you … Considering that there are records of single hippos tearing ten-foot crocodiles in half, I don’t suppose it would be especially constructive for me to detail what happens if you aren’t very lucky.

I’ve (thankfully) had far fewer close encounters with hippo than Mr. Capstick.  However, those I’ve had allow me to confirm that if anything, he understated the situation.  You do not want to get “up close and personal” with a hippo.  Under any circumstances whatsoever.  Period.  You’ll therefore understand that the thought of conservationists and environmentalists wanting to sterilize them gives me more than a few moments of uncontrollable hilarity!  I loved the comment about there being “debate on what are the safest methods”.  I have news for them . . . I can’t think of a single one.  Danger goes with the territory.  Watch where you’re pointing that scalpel, buddy, and don’t skimp on the anesthetic!

As for granting them legal “personhood” in court . . . suuuuuuure, judge.  You go right ahead and do that.  As far as the rest of us in the real world are concerned, they’ll go right on being hippos.  They’re terrifyingly good at it – court rulings be damned.



  1. Peter, the judge is from Cincinnati. Google Fiona. Cincinnati is crazy about her. Like, Cinti zoo billboards all over town with her picture crazy.

  2. So what sort of ammo are we recommending, Peter, and where to shoot?

    (Presumably not the internal gonads.)

  3. Judge I don't know what cases you see but while some people are animals no animals are people.

    When they get done castrating the hippos we can send them to TX to castrate the feral hogs. The survivors (new show?) can then go try their hand at Cape Buffalo. Ticket prices will be adjusted for degree of difficulty.

  4. Off topic, but here's one for you: " Homelessness is A Profit Center For The Democratic Party"

    In the course of discussing the crises of tent cities with drug addicts infesting just about every blue city in America, Peachy Keenan (I suspect a pseudonym) talks about how homelessness is a major profit center for Democrats:

    (Hat tip: Bayou Renaissance Man via Borepatch.)

    Thought you'd like to know…

  5. Wonder how quickly the judge would change the ruling if a hippo was released in the courtroom?

    Hippos are floating armored Cape Buffalo. Cute when there's a series of bars and barriers between them and people, and the 'po have been hand raised and hand fed. But wild ones? Eh, no.

    As to ammo and caliber? As big as you can stand it. Repeatedly. Until you feel better.

  6. I lived in South America for 11 years. Most river systems in Colombia eventually reach the Amazon, probably via the Rio Negro. If nothing is done about these invading hippos—from two to 100 in twenty years–they absolutely will get to the Amazon and in ten years number over 500. I've traveled the Amazon, where the worries were electric eels, piranha and crocs. Now I have to add hippos to that list?

    It might be the case that the Rio Negro, which has a very high tannin content—thus the name—will keep the hippos out, thus keeping the beasts in Colombia.

    And by the way, it is impossible for them to get to Central America, where I lived for two years. They would have to cross the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama. I walked it in 1987—it took 11 days—and there no rivers substantial enough to sustain the hippos.

  7. Any day that you can quote Peter Capstick, is a good day. Just re-reading his comments on Hippo's makes me want to go back and re read all of his books again.

    Dang that guy could make a word picture, with simple comments about "one in the boiler room…" or something like that.

    And lot of great comments already on here about the Hippo's. Ayup, established. Ayup. Next they can import African croc's to keep'm under control too. /Roll eyes so hard the tick. Why not Salties from Australia while they're at it.

    Really great point by Mike Austin as well. Doubt they would go up the coast, right? Just looking Darien gap on Infogalactic, bet those "Persons of Hippohood" would be really happy to be out in that 50 mile wide swamp/marshland. Had never read about it. holy crap that's some rough stuff.

  8. Capstick knew.

    Kill them. Kill them all.

    Didn't those jackholes down there learn anything from African honeybees?

    This judge is just a moron who wants to live the first Jumanji movie, in real life. Turn a hippo loose in the courtroom? Pfft. Why torture the hippo thus? How about require the court be held by the hippo wading pool instead?


  9. Dear Winterborn: It seems that hippos are sometimes seen in the ocean off the coast in West Africa. So those beasts could—could—cross into Panama. They would have to migrate north on the Rio Magdalena—where, according to one of those videos, they are on the verge of entering—and end up in the Caribbean. What a horror.

    Darien has a number of Indigenous living there: Cuna, Choco among others. I doubt they would appreciate a bunch of hippos running around. Neither would the various drug gangs that use the Darien as a transshipment point.

    Here is the Darien in 1987 when I crossed it:

    Plenty of room for hippos, now that I think about it. And if they can get to Panama, they could get to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras…

    Sounds like a horror flick.

  10. The sterilizing the hippos reminded my of the old rancher who found out the BLM wanted to sterilize coyotes that were attacking his sheep.
    He remarked, "Folks, they are eating the sheep, no F-ing them!"

  11. @Beans: "As to ammo and caliber? As big as you can stand it. Repeatedly. Until you feel better."

    Er… no, sir. Something belt-fed, on a mount, and preferably crew-served. If possible, make it self-propelled, so that if the hippo chews up its bursts of fire and spits out the mangled remains, you can exit stage left at high speed!

  12. And, as they reproduce and spread out… how much effect will they have on agriculture? How much of the farmland down there is within hippo range of suitable bodies of water?
    Direct threats to humans aside, what are invasive hippos likely to do to regional food supplies?

  13. Actually, Federal Magistrate Judge Karen Litkovitz has now set a precedent, which I hope will only apply in her district, at least for now. I hope someone appeals this nonsense. It needs to be, and fast. Stupidity of this magnitude can form a singularity in a hurry.

    According to her bio she spent most of her actual practice in legal aid, so you can extrapolate her politics.

  14. what's the problem just shooting the fuckers? They're an invasive species, they don't belong there. Why try to control thier population, just get rid of them!

  15. My thoughts as well. The locals know every twist and turn in those rivers. Set a bounty price, and the hippos would be gone in a few weeks.

  16. Not a thing wrong with that Gator. Not a thing. And to quote Capstick again "Use enough gun!"

    Problem is… as Peter said, "they're established now" and doing quite well. Finding them all would be extremely difficult in very tough country. With angry Hippo's.

    To quote a silly movie that has a premonition of that kind of horror show with Jurassic Park. "Life finds a way" The Velociraptors got away in that book, disappearing into the jungle. Surviving, just like the Professional hunter did in book. And the owner got eaten.

    I'll take a .338 Lapua, nice big muzzle brake and a big fat magazine please. So I can be waaaay back there for that.

    Would guess that the bounty has been offered on these for a long time. Still have hippos. Moar bounty? Bigger?

    Bring them to the judge for bounty! And please video it.

  17. The Colombians have to kill them. They really have no choice. This may be harsh on my part. But these hippos are an invasive species and, if left unchecked, will dramatically change the bio-diversity of the river valley they live in, not to mention the danger they are to any humans living in that river valley.

    Any real environmentalist would agree with this. The problem is that many of the "greenies" of developed countries do not really understand the environment and tend to romanticize and anthropomorphize animals, particularly large animals.

  18. They've been unchecked for almost 30 years. You're right Kurt9, it's not harsh, just realistic. I'd think a lot of that Bio-Diversity has already been changed.

    Another Capstick quote about Africa, "Everything bites" And also tends to be very good at surviving just about everywhere else.

    Not to many lions or Elephants or Cape buffalo being exported to the wilds of just about anywhere else. With great reason.

  19. Fascinating that personhood has been granted to a large land mammal in our country, but is in many places in the same country repeatedly denied an eight month old human in the womb.

    To borrow a phrase from Peter: 'Verily, the mind doth boggle'.

  20. Honorary Cajun here … what do Hippos taste like? Pleas, do not say chicken.

    There is a book series about feral hippos in a section of the Atchafalaya swamp. Cannot recommend because the tediousness of the they/them/theirs, when it should be he/him/his or she/her/hers bullcrap. Imagine reading those plural pronouns relating to an individual in a group. Ugh.

    Shoot'em, and put the meat to good use.

    I bet the Colombia government can make a bundle selling tags for the hunt.

    There are invasive gators in a lagoon Puerto Rico and you cannot kill them.

    That judge in Cinci, where she gets the jurisdiction over Colombia's internal affairs?

  21. Thinking out aloud here: if you were to spot at range a group of hippos in a river, fire a single shot and hit one in the ass; would it be dumb enough to think it was one of the others and start a fight?

    Asking for a friend, etc.

  22. The point of ruling that the hippos are people has nothing to do with the hippos. If animals are found to have the same rights as people, guess what happens to meat and dairy supplies?

  23. The Australians relatively successfully built a fence all the way across the country to stop the migration of rabbits, also a foreign invasive species. It seems to have worked quite well. Perhaps a hippo fence across Columbia? 🤣

  24. And on a serious note, no, this is not about hippos, this is about advancing a radical agenda on animals versus humans. Those people who think that humanity is a blight will do anything to advance the cause of every other living being on the planet at the expense of ours. They have no use for man's dominion.

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