Runaway Zebras Found in Maryland

They're back with their herd
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2021 7:51 AM CDT
Updated Dec 15, 2021 12:00 AM CST

Update: The two zebras that had been on the loose in Maryland since August have been located and reunited with their herd, WJLA reports. Authorities say they returned to the herd last week after having been corralled in an undisclosed location. A third zebra that originally escaped with them died while on the loose. The two rescued zebras are back in the care of their owner, despite the charges he faces over the case, WUSA reports. Our original story from Oct. 20 follows:

One escaped zebra is dead, two remain on the run, and their owner has now been charged. That's the update out of Prince George's County in Maryland, where Jerry Lee Holly now faces three criminal charges of animal cruelty, reports NBC Washington. "The failure to provide for the 3 at-large zebras, combined with the description of the death of the at-large zebra ... is sufficient circumstantial evidence of neglect to warrant criminal charge," note documents from the county's Department of Natural Resources in regard to Tuesday's charges.

The New York Times reports the dead zebra was found "completely decomposed" and had likely died of dehydration after being caught in a trap for several days, per the charging document. "The animal should have been seen or heard while it was dying ... if the caretaker had attended to the zebras," the document adds. It's not yet clear who set the snare trap. In addition to the zebra that died in the trap, another that hadn't escaped from Holly's farm was found dead Monday inside its enclosure. That zebra "had been deceased long enough that it had entered the rigor-mortis stage," the charging doc states.

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Holly—who keeps various other wild animals on his farm, per USDA records—has been charged with failing to provide a zebra with food and proper shelter, inflicting unnecessary pain, and depriving a zebra of necessary sustenance. If convicted, he could face up to 90 days behind bars and a $1,000 fine for each of the three charges. He apparently had a "Class A breeder" license under the Animal Welfare Act, though that license expired earlier this month. The 76-year-old private-farm owner had been cited around four dozen times for breaching that act between 2010 and 2013, per USDA records. Meanwhile, efforts have shifted to capture the two remaining zebras on the loose, reports WTOP. Holly, with the thumbs-up from officials from the USDA and the county's Department of the Environment, has placed food and two of his zebras from the farm in an enclosure in a corral in the hopes the escaped zebras will be lured there, says a DOE spokesperson. (More zebras stories.)

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