Two runaway zebras are back home with private owners in Wisconsin after taking a stroll on a rural highway – but a handful of their striped compatriots remain on the lam in Maryland after a separate breakout.
September has been an unusual month for zebra escapes in America. More than two weeks ago, five zebras managed to flee a private farm in Upper Marlboro, Maryland – and they’ve yet to be recovered. Halfway across the country, two more in Wisconsin escaped their rural home and became hooved highway traffic, much to the amusement of a passing garbage truck driver who captured them on video.
“My God, there’s literally zebras walking down the road,” said David Haupt as he filmed the encounter. “I’m not even kidding: what in the actual ...”
He added: “I’m on an African safari in a garbage truck, good Lord,” added Haupt.
The Outagamie County Sheriff’s Department said the two zebras were quickly returned to their owners, who were not identified.
“Well, it’s not the first exotic animal call we’ve gotten, every once in a while you get something different, but yeah having a garbage truck driver call you and say ‘well, there are two zebras in the road,’ is a bit unusual,” Sgt. Nathan Borman told WBAY.
All has not been resolved as quickly in Maryland, however, where the zebras made their getaway at the beginning of the month. They share the farm with more than three dozen others and it’s still not known how they escaped.
But the sightings have continued, with one aghast resident sharing new footage this weekend that was taken on Friday.
Prince George’s County Animal Services Chief Rodney Taylor told The Independent that the striped escape artists were particularly hard to catch - not least because they are prey for lions and other major animals so their instincts are always on the lookout for danger.
“They have a powerful warning mechanism, so anything that looks different to them, they can pick it up very quickly,” he said. “You’re not going to just walk up to them. They’re going to run - and they can run.”
In 39 years of animal control, he said, he’s never had this particular type of runaway - adding: “I’ve learned a lot about zebras.”
For anyone who spots the animals, he warned: “Please do not try to catch them, corner them. They can kick you. They can hurt you. They can bite you.”
The plan to catch the zebras, he said, revolves around a feeding station that has been set up on a nearby farm to where the animals escaped. The zebras’ owners are licensed to train, breed and sell exotic animals, he told The Independent - and the county is supervising the efforts by those owners to build a corral around the feeding station.
The station sets out a sweet grain to attract the attention of the animals - “a food they don’t get when they’re normally just grazing grass,” he said.
The corral is about three-quarters of the way finished and being watched by cameras; once done, the hope is that the animals will be enclosed within the area and easily returned to the owners’ property. Mr Taylor is hopeful that will occur soon this week.
In the meantime, sightings continue as residents first mistake them for horses or deer or other animals, not expecting to see equine African natives in their East Coast backyards.
The zebras are the talk of the region, Mr Taylor said - especially in his orbit, given that locals know his animal control role.
“Everywhere I go, I hear about the zebras,” he told The Independent. “Most people ask me: Have you caught the zebras yet? That’s the first question - and then you’ve got to explain to them the process.”