Homeless hippo captured in Mexico | News | DW | 21.03.2018
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Homeless hippo captured in Mexico

A hippo that became a bit of a celebrity in eastern Mexico has been caught after weeks on the run. Authorities have no idea how the hippo came to be in Mexico, a country where the giant creature isn't native.

The journey of a stray hippopotamus that had been wandering the Mexican countryside for weeks finally came to an end on Wednesday, after it was apprehended by wildlife authorities.

The great northern hippo, known as Tyson, mysteriously appeared several weeks ago in a rural part of Las Choapas, in the eastern state of Veracruz, but hippos are not native to the country.

Read more: The don'ts and don'ts of keeping exotic pets

He was captured — much to the disappointment of locals — by Mexican environmental authority Profepa after a 10-day operation that involved tracking the hippo's every move.

Authorities lured the hippo into a cage using food as bait and no tranquilizers. He was then taken to the Citlaltepetl wildlife reserve in Orizaba, some 370 kilometers (230 miles) away, where he will remain "until his legal status is determined," Profepa said.

Tyson the hippo in Mexico (picture-alliance/AP/A. Serrano)

Tyson the hippo bathes in a swamp area of Veracruz in Mexico

Lovable but deadly 

Tyson —  who weighs 600 kilograms and is believed to be about three years old — had become a loved member of the community, with locals flocking to take his picture, feed him and even pet him.

But Mexican environmental authority Profepa was concerned that all of the attention surrounding the hippo could result in tragedy.

Read more: What do you call a group of… hippos?

Hippopotamuses are notoriously dangerous due to their aggressive and unpredictable nature, and they have been known to maul and even devour humans.

"Since this is an exotic species of African origin and its presence in the fields of the Las Choapas municipality posed a high risk to people and the ecosystem ... Profepa launched a special operation to relocate him to a secure site," Profepa said in a statement.

A lost pet?

It is not clear how Tyson came to be frolicking through the swampy area of southern Mexico, but locals speculated he that could have escaped from a drug baron's collection of exotic pets.

In Colombia, a herd of hippos once owned by drug lord Pablo Escobar has caused big problems for local authorities after they invaded the countryside near Escobar's former ranch.

Veracruz has a large port and is a much-disputed territory for Mexico's competing drug cartels.

law/kl (AFP, AP)

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