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The Plan To Catch Escaped Zebras In Maryland? More Zebras

The Plan To Catch Escaped Zebras In Maryland? More Zebras
Close up of a zebra's eye and striped coat

Officials in Prince George’s County, Maryland, have announced their plan to find two zebras that have been on the loose since the beginning of September: more zebras.

Five zebras escaped from a private farm in early September. “Three of the exotic animals were first reported to authorities Aug. 31 after they were spotted in a wooded area of Upper Marlboro, about 20 miles from the nation’s capital, said Rodney Taylor, chief of Prince George’s County Animal Services Division,” according to NBC News at the time.

“Zebras running loose in Prince George’s County is something we’ve never seen, that’s for sure,” he said. “There’s a buzz. A lot of people are talking about it.”

Last week, the Washington Post added, “Since then, the public has reported several sightings. They’re traveling in two packs — a pair and a trio — because they’re herd animals, experts said. And caretakers have been trying to lure them to a feeding area and gradually put up a fence to corral them. Chief Rodney Taylor, who runs the county’s animal control agency, said they’re ‘very close’ to catching the escaped zebras.”

“Prince George’s County Animal Services claims to be in constant communication with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the owner and the caretaker of the exotic animals to work together to capture the remaining zebras,” reported WUSA9. “Officials say the owner and caretaker have taken two zebras from the herd and are keeping them in an enclosure in the center of a corral. The hope is that by utilizing food and the other zebras, the loose zebras will return to the corral and the herd.”“Our priority is to make sure the zebras are captured and returned to the herd,” says DoE Director Andrea L. Crooms. “Once this is accomplished, the County will conduct a further investigation, and any actions including any appropriate charges against the owner will be evaluated.”

Last week, one of the escaped zebras was found dead. 

“According to the Department of Natural Resources, the body of a dead animal was reportedly found on private property in Upper Marlboro on September 16,” reported WUSA9. “When Prince George’s County Animal officers arrived, they found the deceased zebra in a snare trap near a field. According to Maryland officials, snare traps are illegal in Prince George’s County.”

Based on the Animal Legal and Historical Center at Michigan State University, there are several breeds that are illegal to own in Maryland. This list includes, “foxes, skunks, raccoons, bears, caimans, alligators, crocodiles, wild cats, wolves, nonhuman primates, and venomous snakes,” but not zebras.

According to Daniel Rubenstein, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, the zebras will be “fine” in Maryland’s environment. 

“They’ll do just fine, certainly during the summer, spring, and fall, in the sense that they’re grazers,” he said. “There’s plenty of grass in Prince George’s County … They should be able to survive because all the conditions are out there in terms of food and water, and there’s no lions or hyenas to eat them, and what wolves or foxes there are probably won’t harm the adults.”


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