Maryland zebras no longer on the loose
But not all is well
The last two zebras of the small herd to escape from a farm in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, United States, have finally been recaptured and returned to their owner. They had remained free, wandering across fields and suburban garden lawns for three and a half months.
Real Safari Newsletter initially reported on the stripey odyssey in the September 22 edition when I wrote about the Curling family that was astonished to observe the zebras from their backyard.
According to The New York Times, a herd of five zebras escaped from a farm in Maryland, about 30kms from Washington D.C. on August 31. The great escape was covered widely in the local media and the herd (Team Stripes) even has its own Twitter account - @MarylandZebra with far more followers (3,522 at the time of writing) than I have.
The Mayor of Upper Marlboro, Linda Pennoyer has described the zebras as local celebrities with their every move documented on social media.
There are several confusing aspects to this story, and I am not sure that it ended well. The first mystery is what was the 76-year-old farmer, Jerry Lee Holly, intending to do with 39 zebras? Although apparently he had a licence to keep the animals, he had no intention of breeding them nor putting them on public display.
His motives could be further called into question when he told local media that he had no intention of capturing the escaped zebras himself.
Holly was subsequently charged with animal cruelty when one of the escapees was found dead in an illegal snare. It is unknown who laid the trap, but it appears that the poor animal had died of dehydration because it was unable to access any water.
The cruelty rap was exacerbated when local authorities found a second dead zebra on Holly’s farm.
The number of escapees is also strangely murky. How many zebras really managed to escape? Originally the Times reported on five zebras that had fled the farm, but later on it insisted that there were only three. However, a screen grab of NBC Washington footage of the escapees clearly shows five animals.
Whatever the motives and numbers, it now seems that the story of the escaped zebras has finally reached its conclusion.