Pablo Escobar’s hippos lead a charge for animal rights

Corporations have enjoyed legal personhood since the 19th century. Now, it seems, they have company. A dispute over the fate of hippos in Colombia has given rise to a federal court ruling in Ohio that, for the first time in American law, recognises animals as people.

This should come as welcome news to the 100-plus hippos of Colombia’s Magdalena river. They are the offspring of four hippos smuggled into the country by Pablo Escobar, a drug lord. After Escobar died in a shoot-out with police in 1993, other specimens from his exotic menagerie—ostriches, zebras, flamingos—found new homes in zoos. But the hippos took up residence in the mud of the Magdalena and got to reproducing.

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Corporations have enjoyed legal personhood since the 19th century. Now, it seems, they have company. A dispute over the fate of hippos in Colombia has given rise to a federal court ruling in Ohio that, for the first time in American law, recognises animals as people. This should come as welcome news to the 100-plus…

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