One of Maryland’s escaped zebras dies in illegal trap

Authorities have belatedly reported that one of the group of African mammals that bolted from a farm died last month

One of a group of escaped zebras that have spent almost two months running wild through the east Maryland suburbs has died, authorities said, in a blow to thousands who have followed the animals’ bid for freedom.

The fate of the zebras, who bolted from a farm near Upper Marlboro in late August, has captured the attention of people locally and beyond, with a number of Marylanders sharing videos and photos of the animals roaming and grazing on residents’ lawns.

Now, however, has come the news no one wanted to hear: one of the zebras has died, after being caught in a snare trap. The animal was found dead on 16 September, Prince George’s county officials said, but for unknown reasons the zebra’s fate was only made public nearly a month later.

The remaining zebras have managed to avoid the bungling efforts of the local animal services division for almost two months.

Officials claimed in early September that the animals would be caught within a matter of days, and in a further misstep, animal services later revealed it had managed to miscount the number of zebras they were hunting – after originally stating that five were on the loose, the division now says only three escaped.

The local television channel Fox5 reported that Maryland’s department of natural resources police found one of the zebras dead in a trap in mid-September, but did not report this to Prince George’s county officials until 28 September. It took another two weeks for Prince George’s county to reveal that the animal was dead.

Snare traps are illegal in Prince George’s county, and police are investigating who laid the trap.

Prince George’s county workers have spent several weeks attempting to lure the escaped zebras into a corral. Last Friday the county’s department of the environment unveiled a new strategy, which involves using more captive zebras as bait for their free brethren.

“The current capture plan is to utilize food and other zebras to attract the zebras at large into a corral so they can be returned to the herd and eliminate any other potential risk to the animals,” Prince George’s county DoE said in a press release.

With winter approaching, some have expressed concern over the zebras’ ability to deal with the Maryland temperatures, which can drop below freezing.

Daniel Rubenstein, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, previously told the Guardian that zebras thrive on the frigid slopes of Mount Kenya, so they should be just fine.

If the cold does prove too much, the zebras could choose to migrate south toward warmer climes, Rubenstein said – unless they are finally caught.

Contributor

Adam Gabbatt

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Stripe zone: on the trail of suburban Maryland’s elusive zebras
The five black-and-white quadrupeds who escaped from a farm last month should be easy to spot around town … shouldn’t they?

Adam Gabbatt in Upper Marlboro, Maryland

02, Oct, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
Escaped zebras bamboozle Maryland officials: ‘They’re just too fast’
Five animals roam neighbourhoods after fleeing private farm as officials struggle to catch them

Richard Luscombe in Miami

10, Sep, 2021 @7:08 PM

Article image
Homeowner trying to smoke out snake infestation burns down own house
Maryland home suffers over $1m in damage after cunning coal-based pest control plan backfires

Victoria Bekiempis

04, Dec, 2021 @3:52 PM

Article image
Springing the 'rat' trap: how Baltimore fought back against Trump's insults
In July the president called the Maryland city a ‘rat and rodent-infested mess’ and moved on. But for residents striving to build a brighter future, the hard work continues

David Smith in Baltimore

26, Oct, 2019 @6:00 AM

Article image
Woman searches for missing 78-year-old turtle she's had since she was five
Moses, a red-eared slider turtle, went missing more than two weeks ago from a kiddie pool in the yard of 83-year-old Maryland resident Gloria Todd

Scott Bixby

01, Oct, 2016 @7:29 PM

Article image
Hundreds flock to Maryland park to view 'exceptional' rare bird
Birders headed to Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park to view brightly coloured painted bunting

Oliver Milman

04, Jan, 2021 @4:31 PM

Article image
Baltimore man who called 911 for help dies after being punched by police
According to an incident report, Tawon Boyd attempted to enter two police cars, ran to a neighbor’s house and shouted: ‘Help! Call the police’

Baynard Woods in Baltimore

24, Sep, 2016 @2:00 PM

Escaped zebras chased through Brussels by police
Five police cars were hot on the tails of the three equids after they went missing from a ranch in the Belgian capital

Nadia Khomami

17, Apr, 2015 @4:34 PM

Article image
Monkeys thought to have escaped private collection on loose in Cincinnati
Police called after alarmed residents spotted monkeys late on Wednesday night

Guardian staff

08, Apr, 2021 @1:04 PM

Article image
Cow catcher: rescuers use female to lure runaway bull that escaped slaughter
1,500lb animal that escaped from Long Island farm is pursued with horses, lassos, tranquilizer gun – and a cow

Guardian staff and agencies

22, Jul, 2021 @1:16 PM