Colombia has been struggling with a particularly large and unlikely interloper: the hippopotamus. The African animals are multiplying in the area around Doradal, in the northwest of the country.
It’s all the fault of the cocaine trafficker Pablo Escobar. During his heyday as leader of the Medellín Cartel, he imported four hippos for his personal zoo on his palatial estate. When law enforcement officials killed the narco-terrorist in 1993, they seized the property, along with its exotic menagerie, but the hippos escaped and, with no natural predators in the region, have since prospered. There are now thought to be at least 50 of them in the area. In 2013, officials finally decided to do something about it, and provided funds to the environmental management body to sterilise or relocate the beasts. But that’s proving a challenge. “We do not have a manual to handle them,” complains one of those tasked with the job, pointing out the logistical difficulties of getting to grips with alien animals in the wild that can weigh up to three tonnes and reach speeds of up to 18mph. Twenty-five years after his death, Escobar is still causing Colombia problems. (Sally Palamina, El País, Madrid)
Why is this a matter for Epicurus.Today? Well, the general environment is terribly serious, for good reason. We all need a bit of light relief, but in reality there is little to laugh about, so people don’t. I was mentally noting that comedy writing has abruptly stopped. Not that wild hippos wandering around Colombia is particularly funny, but it will have to do.
I was drawn to Ms. Palamino’s article because I specialise in greeting cards featuring hippos, and recently wrote a book of light verse called “The Rueful Hippopotamus”, available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, and selling best in Germany, where they still laugh I am thus being thoroughly American in taking every possible opportunity for brazen self-promotion, and showing praiseworthy integration. If this is all nonsense, forgive me – the daily news is driving me bonkers.