It is no secret that I am fascinated by the life of Pablo Escobar. I am not sure why I find this man so interesting but I do. So of course when I saw this story about him I had to click on it, little did I know that the story that followed would leave me scratching my head.

It appears that the hippos that were once owned by Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar can now be recognized as “people” or “interested persons” who have legal rights in the United States.

I feel like there needs to be some background information given here. Pablo Escobar spent a lot of money building up the infamous zoo that still sits on his property in Columbia. While Escobar was in the process of building the zoo he had several Hippos imported illegally. After Pablo Escobar's death, there was no one to care for the animals and they were left to fend for themselves. However, there were no real threats to the animals so they actually thrived in the environment. In the last eight years, the number of Hippos have grown from 35 to almost 80.

A group of scientists have been warning that these hippos could pose a major threat to the area’s biodiversity and potentially even harm humans. The same group is also advocating for some of the animals to be killed. To help with the control issues a governmental agency has been able to go into the zoo and start sterilizing a few of the hippos to help keep the numbers from growing.

This is where the story gets a little intense, the attorneys for the Animal Legal Defense Fund asked the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati to give “interested persons” status to the hippos and the courts sided with the group granting these "cocaine hippos" interested person status in the United States. The animal rights group is calling this a victory however, the ruling won’t carry any weight in Colombia.

“The ruling has no impact in Colombia because they only have an impact within their own territories. It will be the Colombian authorities who decide what to do with the hippos and not the American ones,” said Camilo Burbano Cifuentes, a criminal law professor at the Universidad Externado de Colombia.

 

While many are saying this is a waste of taxpayer’s dollars it should be pointed out that “legal personhood” affords the ability to have your interests heard and represented in a court of law. So in this case all the Animal Legal Defense Fund wants is to enforce the rights that these animals already have under the animal cruelty laws and any other laws that afford animals protection.

My question is does this open the door to allow all animals the same legal rights as humans?

 

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