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Hippos Repopulate Pablo Escobar’s Legacy at His Multimillion-Dollar Mansion

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By: Kate Row | Last updated: Oct 05, 2022

Pablo Escobar is one of the most famous names in the world. This Colombian kingpin is a wildly fascinating character who is incredibly feared. He is known for killing thousands of people to build his drug ring and gain more power.

Almost everything about the man known as the “King of Cocaine” is shocking and extravagant. Check out these fascinating facts about Pablo Escobar and be glad you never crossed paths with him.

He had an Extravagant Estate with a Private Zoo

Pablo is known for spending his riches on extravagant items. One of his greatest expenses was his own personal zoo. He had tons of animals roaming the grounds of his estate. You could find giraffes, elephants, and other exotic animals.

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Perhaps the most famous of his collection were four hippos. Even today, hippos can be found roaming the grounds because they were deemed too difficult to move after Escobar’s death.

About Pablo’s “Cocaine Hippos”

Pablo had acquired four hippos by having them illegally imported to his Columbian estate in the 1980s. This was essentially at the height of his drug trade. While the first four hippos that he owned have since passed away, they left behind their own legacy.

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Offspring of Pablo’s hippos still run wild on the abandoned grounds of his estate. There are now more than 130 of these great animals as they have thrived after Pablo’s death. A lawsuit will decide whether something needs to be done to remove them because they are disturbing the natural biodiversity of the environment.

The Debate Over Pablo’s Hippos

There has been a lot of discussion around the hippos and how to deal with them. As their numbers increase they pose a threat to the natural order of nature in the area and they might be deemed an invasive species.

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But animal rights activists worry that the hippos will be harmed in this plan to remove them from where they currently reside around Pablo’s former ranch. The hippos have thrived in this environment because they have no natural predators and plenty of food to keep them satisfied.

His Creepy Abandoned Mansion

The flamboyant drug lord owned many properties. In fact, he owned more than 100! One of which was a mansion in Medellín, Colombia, where he grew up. The once extravagant mansion has now become ruins.

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The property is completely overgrown and essentially destroyed. It’s hard to imagine that it was once a multi-million dollar property. Now, the abandoned mansion serves a completely different purpose that the drug lord never could have imagined.

The Abandoned Mansion is Now a Paintball Arena

The mansion has now been repurposed as a paintball arena! For a little over $100 you can get into the abandoned mansion and play a round of paintball. We’re sure that Pablo couldn’t have imagined that his multimillion dollar home would be used as a paintball arena.

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Visiting the site is a whole adventure that starts with a Jeep taking you to the ranch where the mansion is located. You can tour the place and imagine the massive home in its day. Play a game of paintball with your friends in the decaying ruins of one of the wealthiest men in the world’s home.

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He Was in the Business of Stealing Before Drugs

Pablo Escobar was never a stand up citizen. Before entering the drug trade and becoming the “King of Cocaine” he made a business out of stealing.

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He often stole tombstones and sold them to smugglers. Also, he was in the business of stealing cars. His father was a farmer and mother was a schoolteacher, so it seems the apple fell very far from the tree.

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Pablo Killed Thousands of People

Pablo ruthlessly killed thousands of people on his way up in the drug world. It is estimated that he is responsible for about 4,000 deaths. This includes 200 judges and 1,000 police, journalists, and government officials who came between him and his money.

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In addition, he killed many people from rival crime organizations, so the real number of people he killed might actually be much higher. He surrounded himself with protection which kept him safe for years and difficult to stop.

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He Burned $2 Million

The Escobar family had to go into hiding when Pablo began making a big name for himself because many officials were after him. While they were in hiding, his daughter became ill and needed to be kept warm.

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To keep her and the rest of the family warm, Pablo burned over $2 million as kindling. Not the most economical solution, but it worked. His daughter was no longer hypothermic and it only cost $2 million.

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He Hid Illegal Substances In Airplane Tires

There was a time during the height of Pablo’s reign that he and his crew were responsible for over 80% of the cocaine in the United States. One of the ways he smuggled cocaine across the border was in plane tires.

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He would pay pilots based on how much they smuggled and how often they flew. He would reward pilots with as much as $500,00 per day to smuggle the drugs in their plane tires.

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He Was One of the Richest Men In the World

Escobar gained billions of dollars throughout his career. His total earnings are estimated to be about 30 billion dollars. That’s more money than we can even imagine! 

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For 7 years in a row, Pablo Escobar was on the Forbes Billionaires list. He had so much money, in fact, that he spent $2,500 a month on rubber bands to hold his money! That’s more than most people’s rent.

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He Owned Hundreds of Vehicles and Homes

True to his extravagant nature, he had hundreds of homes and vehicles. In the late 1980s, authorities seized some of his belongings and properties. This included a whopping 141 homes and offices! 

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Not to mention his 142 planes which were used to transport drugs as well as people. He had 20 helicopters and 32 yachts which contributed to his enormous collection. This was not even the entirety of his belongings! He had 2 submarines to traffic drugs into the U.S. as well.

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10% of his Money was Spoiled

Despite owning hundreds of homes and vehicles, Pablo could not possibly spend all of the money he accumulated. It is estimated that about 10% of his earnings were actually destroyed.

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Some money was lost, some was destroyed by the elements, and some was even eaten by rats! Insanely, the $2 billion that became rodent lunch was not even a dent in the grand scheme of his lifetime earnings.

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He Was Finally Stopped with a “Surrendered”

Pablo’s reign was incredibly difficult to end. While some of the Columbian public agreed with government officials that the violence he brought to Columbia was devastating, others applauded the charity he did for the poor.

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These opposing views made it difficult to convict him, so they negotiated a surrender. Pablo and his crew would put an end to their drug reign and in exchange, they would not be tried in the U.S.

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He Built a Prison for Himself

When Pablo agreed to go to prison, he did so on his own terms. He actually built his own prison to serve his sentence in. This prison was called “La Catedral” or “Cathedral”. It featured a casino, spa, football field, waterfall, and nightclub.

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It definitely doesn’t sound like the kind of prison we are all familiar with. Many believe that this “prison” was actually built to keep his enemies out rather than keep Pablo in. 

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After his Death, His Estate was Turned Into a Theme Park

If you’re not in disbelief yet, we’re sure this fact will take you by surprise. Pablo’s home in Columbia was turned into a theme park after he died in 1993. It features some of the animals that he let roam the grounds as well as other features.

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It is home to many life-sized dinosaur models, his collection of classic cars, and a wildlife sanctuary. Ironically, this murderous drug loard’s home is now called a “family-friendly” attraction.

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He Offered to Pay Off Columbia’s Debt

Pablo offered to pay off the entirety of Columbia’s debts — a total sum of $10 billion. And he actually had enough money to pay it off, too! But it wasn’t a completely selfless act, of course.

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He promised to pay off his home country’s debts if he would be exempt from an extradition treaty. In other words, he would pay $10 billion if the government agreed not to ship him off to the U.S. to answer for his crimes.

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He was Eventually Killed by Colombian Police

Pablo Escobar broke out of the prison that he built for himself (surprise, surprise) and went on the run. He evaded authorities for about a year and a half before the Colombian National Police found him. They used radio-tracking technology to find his hiding place and finally cornered him.

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In December of 1993, at the age of 44, Pablo was shot and killed by the police. The shot that killed him went through his ear, leg, and torso. Thus, a gruesome end to an incredibly violent life.

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He had a “Robin Hood” Reputation

Pablo was an incredibly violent man who lived a life of crime, and yet over 25,000 people attended his funeral. This was because he did use some of his money to benefit the less fortunate in Columbia.

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He built homes for the poor communities and donated to the less fortunate of his country. Some of the people who attended his funeral even refer to him as a “saint” for all the blessings he brought to them. This is a huge reason why he became such a controversial figure.

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His Son Changed His Name and Wanted to Avenge his Father’s Death

Pablo Escobar’s son was named Juan Pablo Escobar Henao at birth but he later changed it to Sebastián Marroquín. Apparently, he changed his name because he believed that a voodoo priest had cursed the name.

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The name change was not a way to distance himself from his father as he proclaimed that he wanted to grow the “family business” to avenge his father’s death. But he later had a change of heart and created positive relationships with many Colombian officials.

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Pablo Was First Arrested in 1974

The first time the dangerous Pablo Escobar was arrested was in 1974 for a car theft incident. However, he had already started to build a crime organization long before this. In 1972 he began the “Medellin Cartel”.

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This was a group that functioned as a drug cartel and a criminal group that terrorized Columbia. The group was just the beginning of a career of drug and crime that went on until he died.

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He Tried to Run for Congress

In the 1980s, Pablo ran for Colombian Government to gain more power in his home country. At the time, the people felt very unhappy with the current government and he saw an opportunity to gain more influence.

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He aimed to gain the support of the poor communities by building new homes, a soccer field, and a sanitation system. He attended multiple Congressional hearings but his Congressional career quickly ended when his criminal career became public.

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He Couldn’t Spend All of the Money he Made

Although he tried, Pablo couldn’t spend all of the money he made in his life of crime. He had made billions of dollars and the authorities were closing in so there wasn’t much ability to go on spending sprees while he was in hiding.

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Many of his riches still remain hidden in warehouses. It is estimated that a little over $2 billion of his stash decays away yearly as it sits unused and hidden! People still try to find these lost riches, but to no success so far.

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He Collected Enemies

While he had something of a robin hood reputation in the poor communities of Columbia, his life of crime earned him many enemies. You don’t make that much money and commit that many crimes without ruffling a few feathers.

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The two main groups that opposed Pablo and his cartel were the Cali Cartel and the Los Pepes. Los Pepes was actually a group that was formed from Escobar’s enemies to try to take him down.

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Pablo Ordered the Bombing of Avianca Flight 203

In a long list of horrendous and violent crimes, Pablo ordered a bombing of a flight in 1989. The plane took off from El Dorado International Airport and was supposed to land in Cali, Columbia. Pablo ordered a bombing of the flight because he believed that the presidential candidate César Gaviria Trujillo was on board.

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Some people believe that Pablo also assumed that some of his infamous drug rivals were on board the flight as well. Whatever the case, he was responsible for the more than 100 fatalities from the bomb.

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He Went to the White House as Well as Disneyworld

The drug lord had started his ventures into cocaine and the drug trade in the early 70s. But in 1981 he actually took photos with his family in front of the white house, looking like a regular civilian.

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On the same trip, he actually took the family to Disneyworld as well. You would never know by looking at these photos that the man acquired billions of dollars and killed thousands of people in his line of business. An unlikely trip for the richest drug lord of all time.

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He Spent Upwards of $2,500 on Rubber Bands Per Month

You might be asking yourself why a billionaire drug lord would need to spend so much on rubber bands. The amount of money he had was the exact reason that he had to pay for the rubber bands.

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He spent so much on them because he needed the bands to hold his paper bills money together and organize them. Imagine making so much money that you have to spend about $30,000 on rubber bands every year! That is some people’s annual salary!

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His Daughter is the Only Family Member without Criminal Charges

Pablo’s daughter, Manuela Escobar is the only member of the family that does not have criminal charges against her. She was only 9 years old when her father died and has maintained a low profile ever since.

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Her brother, on the other hand, has become more close to the public. Some people think that her avoidance of crowds and social media might be because she suffers from clinical depression.

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The Death of Pablo Escobar Was an Important Victory in the War on Drugs

While the death of Pablo Escobar was an important step in the war on drugs, it did not put an end to the drug trade in Columbia. As it usually goes, when one source of power falls, another takes its place.

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When Pablo Escobar was finally taken down, his rival cartel, the Cali Cartel essentially picked up where he left off. They basically reigned until the 1990s when other groups took over.

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Pablo Was a Huge Soccer Fan

Outside of running one of the most profitable drug rings in the world, Pablo was an avid soccer fan (or football, as it is called in Columbia). There are a few rare videos that show him playing back in the day.

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He provided a lot of funding to the team so that they could recruit the best players to his home team, Atletico Nacional. Many other cartels also supported rival soccer teams, so this was not completely out of the norm.

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He Purchased an Island to Smuggle Drugs

His cartel grew to be such an operation that he struggled to manage the routes in which he would ship the drugs. He purchased an island that had everything they needed to move drugs. It was a perfect display of Pablo’s immense wealth.

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This included an airstrip for planes, hotels, boats, and warehouses to store cocaine. The island was used to transport drugs for 4 years before it was purchased by someone else. The island was located in the Bahamas and is surrounded by stunning blue waters.

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He Paid his Pilots Handsomely

Since he made so much money, Pablo was known for being someone that shared the wealth. He paid his pilots upwards of $500,000 for one single smuggling trip. These pilots jumped on the opportunity to make this kind of cash despite the risks involved.

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The cocaine was often snuck into the plane tires, which no one ever thought to check. When the world of cocaine started to heat up and the war on drugs was ever prevalent in Columbia Pablo switched his mode of transportation and smuggled some of the white powder in submarines.

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His Wife was Only 13 Years Old When They Met

Maria Victoria Henao was only 13 years old when she first met the prolific drug lord. Pablo was 24 at the time. They married in 1976 when she was 15 and he was 26. Maria was quickly swept into the terrifying and violent world of drugs and crime.

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Maria’s family was not supportive of the relationship as they feared for her daughter. They did not want her being married to someone who was growing to become the most feared drug lord on the planet. But, nevertheless, the couple eloped against Maria’s family’s wishes.

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His Family Did Not Acquire Much of His Money

When Pablo was finally found, caught, and killed, his family did not inherit his billions. Much of his money and assets were acquired by the Colombian government. The authorities forced the family to hand over any liquid assets that had been left behind.

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Outside of that, there are still billions of dollars that have all but vanished. When the heat on Pablo started to grow, and he was forced to go on the run, the criminal hid much of his money and it has still yet to be found.

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He was Particular About his Bathrooms

One can assume that a man who has made billions of dollars is going to be particular about the way he likes his things. Interestingly, when police and authorities raided his many homes, they found out a lot about the way Pablo liked to live.

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He was obviously extravagant, but they noticed some odd trends throughout homes. For instance, he liked very pristine and well-proportioned bathrooms. Each bathroom was sparkly clean and extremely neat. One was built to be a bunker with 3 feet thick cement walls.

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He Printed “Wanted Posters” of Himself

The curious man seemed to lean into his outlaw image and even celebrate it. He was proud of the crimes he committed and enjoyed being feared. When authorities raided one of his many homes they found a canister of film in the trash can.

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When they developed the film they found pictures of Pablo on “wanted posters” that he had created himself. The fugitive enjoyed the fact that authorities would scramble to find him and take him down.

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He Poked Fun at the Authorities

Pablo kept figurines of Colombian authorities on his desk to show that he felt he “owned” the police. He also ridiculed U.S. officials. They found many self-published books that Pablo had written himself that featured satirical cartoons poking fun at the U.S.

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He kept many of these kinds of cartoons around his home to essentially mock the U.S. government. It was as if he was daring them to bust him. And eventually, he was busted.

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He had Pigeons Deliver Letters for Him

When Pablo spent time in La Catedral (the prison he built for himself that was more of a resort than a punishment) he kept several homing pigeons. Apparently, he had used these pigeons to deliver messages for him.

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He had many books on how to care for and train pigeons to be your own personal mail carriers. These birds carried messages back and forth between Pablo and his associates outside of La Catedral.

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He was Self Obsessed

It probably doesn’t come as a shock that Pablo Escobar thought very highly of himself. He was among the richest men in the world and came from humble beginnings. He was proud of his reputation and his business.

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This was proven true when his home was raided and officials found self-written books, clippings from news headlines that were about him, and tons of letters from his enemies. He was very meticulous about organizing the letters from his enemies, as if he was prepared to strike them at any time.

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The Show Narcos is Based on Pablo Escobar and the Goosechase to Capture Him

The popular television series Narcos on Netflix is based off of Pablo’s story and the 2 agents who finally took him down. Steve Murphy and Javier F. Peña worked for the DEA and were regarded as the men who took down the kingpin.

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The two men lived even though they had a $300,000 bounty on their heads in Columbia. They look back on the adventure and the encounter with Escobar as if it were a dream.

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