Dueling Cocaine Hippo Projects! – /Film

The Hunt for Escobar's Hippos

Before the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the world, we wrote about a fascinating Netflix movie in development called Cocaine Hippos, which touches on the exotic animals that notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar had imported to his personal Colombian estate. It’s a wild story, and perhaps unsurprisingly, that subject matter is so compelling that we now have dueling cocaine hippo projects in the works. Smithsonian Channel is getting on that action as well with a new series called The Hunt for Escobar’s Hippos. Get the details below.

With the rise of true crime documentaries over the past few years and shows like Narcos becoming popular in the United States, drug kingpin Pablo Escobar has become a household name to the generation of people who missed his era of power when it was actually happening. Netflix’s Cocaine Hippos is said to be a mixture of Tropic Thunder and The Hangover, and “will follow a group of friends who stumble across a clue leading to Escobar’s lost treasure. They then embark on a wild trip that pits them against con men, local drug lords and the deadly hippos that Escobar smuggled into Colombia back in the ’80s.”

But today, we learned that Smithsonian Channel is developing a documentary series about that same topic. Here’s part of the description:

Notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar’s brutal regime ended in a hail of bullets. His infamous reign of terror left Colombia with the legacy of a corrupt narco-state and something more bizarre: African hippos. In the 1980s, Escobar smuggled four hippos into Colombia to join his growing collection of exotic animals at his $63 million estate outside Medellin. Left to fend for themselves in the wake of his death, these extremely dangerous beasts – responsible for more deaths in Africa than lions or crocodiles – broke out. Today, breeding at twice their typical rate and with no natural predators keeping them in check, more than 60 roam the Colombian wilds, wreaking havoc in villages at night and threatening the ecosystem that feeds into the Magdalena River, Colombia’s main watershed.

Since killing these hippos is illegal in Colombia, the show instead follows a doctor who is tasked with capturing and sterilizing the hippos so they can’t continue to repopulate. There are real, tangible stakes here: the hippos are one of the biggest threats to the entire country’s ecosystem and the wildlife in the area. So if you’re itching for some cocaine hippo content in your life, soon you’ll have two disparate options.

The Hunt For Escobar’s Hippos premieres on August 26, 2020.

Photo credit: Smithsonian Channel/Edgar Jimenez

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