The zebras, which person been wandering freely on the byways of Prince George’s County, were portion of a herd of 39 that belonged to a privately owned farm, officials said.
Sept. 9, 2021, 9:24 p.m. ET
Alexis Curling was moving from location past week erstwhile her 10-year-old daughter, Layla, ran upstairs and interrupted her with breaking news.
“Mommy, I cognize you’re not going to judge this, but spot maine erstwhile I archer you: I conscionable saw immoderate zebras down the house,” she said, according to her father, Paul Curling.
The household is utilized to seeing cervid nosing on the wooded railroad tracks down their location successful suburban Maryland. But zebras?
“Layla, what’s the substance with you? Are you crazy?” Ms. Curling responded. “Why would determination beryllium zebras?”
But determination were zebras — five, successful fact, that had precocious escaped from a adjacent workplace and had been roaming freely done the backyards and roads of Prince George’s County, conscionable arsenic they would successful the grasslands of eastbound Africa.
“When I archetypal heard astir it I was like, ‘OK, you’ve got to beryllium kidding me, right? Zebras?’” said Rodney Taylor, main of the Prince George’s County Animal Services Division. Over 39 years successful carnal control, helium has had to corral the occasional cattle oregon different workplace animal. But ne'er a zebra.
“Most times, we’re dealing with a canine and feline much than thing else,” helium said.
The wandering zebras archetypal came to the attraction of the authorities connected Aug. 31 aft they escaped from a privately owned workplace successful Upper Marlboro, Md., astir 20 miles southeast of Washington, Mr. Taylor said.
He said that helium did not cognize however the zebras got loose, but that they were portion of a zeal of 39 (yes, that’s what a bunch of zebras are sometimes called) that had been brought to the workplace from Florida astir 2 weeks ago.
He said helium was not definite wherefore the workplace owner, whom helium identified arsenic Jerry Holly, had been keeping zebras successful Maryland, but they were not portion of a zoo oregon different exposition.
“He conscionable has them,” Mr. Taylor said, adding that helium had spoken lone to a idiosyncratic connected the farm, and not to Mr. Holly. “He whitethorn merchantability them. I person nary idea.”
He said that Mr. Holly had a licence from the United States Department of Agriculture to support zebras. The U.S.D.A. did not instantly respond to a petition for comment.
Department records bespeak that the workplace has had a scope of chaotic animals arsenic precocious arsenic 2018, including black-handed spider monkeys, dromedaries, mandrills, reddish kangaroos, brownish lemurs, capybaras and gibbons.
But Mr. Curling, who lives astir 3 miles away, said, “Nobody knew astir it.”
Mr. Holly could not beryllium reached astatine respective numbers listed nether his name. The escaped zebras were antecedently reported by WJLA.
After breaking loose, the zebras began grazing on the byways of Upper Marlboro, yet crossing down the Curlings’s backyard past Thursday, wherever Layla saw them done the room model arsenic she fixed herself a noontime snack of Oreo cookies, her begetter said.
Her sister, Alexa Curling, 22, rapidly took a video and past called Mr. Curling to archer him that determination were zebras down the house.
“I’m like, ‘OK, my household has yet mislaid it,’” helium said. “Maybe they are playing a prank connected maine and privation maine to travel location early.”
Even aft seeing the video, helium wondered if idiosyncratic had dressed up horses to look similar zebras for a child’s day party, overmuch the mode idiosyncratic mightiness enactment a horn connected a equine to marque it look similar a unicorn.
His woman called 311 to study the family’s discovery.
“Ma’am, I cognize you’re not going to judge me, but there’s immoderate zebras successful my backyard,” Mr. Curling recalled her saying. The telephone taker “gave a agelong pause,” helium said, and past referred her to the Animal Services Division.
Mr. Taylor said that Mr. Holly’s workplace planned to trap the zebras successful a feeding station, wherever they person been captured connected video camera implicit the past 4 nights, nibbling connected grain.
Farm workers person been dilatory adding paneling astir the station, creating an enclosure that volition yet see a gross with a tripwire, helium said.
The process has been dilatory due to the fact that the zebras mightiness beryllium frightened to participate the feeding presumption if they announcement the signifier of the enclosure has changed, Mr. Taylor said. Once the zebras are trapped, they volition beryllium tranquilized and returned to the farm.
“I’m reasoning by this clip adjacent week,” helium said, “they should person immoderate zebras caught.”
He emphasized that the authorities were not trying to hunt down the zebras, which person keen senses and are easy startled.
“It would conscionable marque matters worse,” helium said. “They’re not going to fto you get that adjacent to them.”
Susan Beachy contributed research.