The famed "cocaine hippos" of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar have been legally recognised as humans by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
The hippos' saga begins in the 1980s, when a prominent Colombian drug lord imported a variety of exotic creatures to Colombia for his own private zoo, including at least four hippos. The majority of the animals were relocated to zoos after the drug trafficker's death in 1993, where they could be properly cared for. Meanwhile, the four hippos were too hefty to transport and eventually settled in the Magdalena River. Since then, the hippos' population has swelled to 80, raising concerns about the environmental effects and human safety. There have even been stories of hippos wreaking havoc on the local ecosystem and threatening residents. Hippos have now become the first non-humans to be officially classified as people as a result of an ongoing court case involving them. The verdict came on the same day that the Animal Legal Défense Fund filed an application to stop Colombia's government from murdering hippos. The idea of a population "cull" was first floated in public at the start of 2021.