A tale of an equine escape by a pair of zebras in Texas on Wednesday ended sadly on Thursday when authorities confirmed that both animals had died shortly after their capture.
New Braunfels, Texas, drivers and residents had called 911 Wednesday evening to report a zebra trotting through traffic, under Interstate 35 and on neighborhood streets. It was around 4:45 p.m. when the runaway animal was reported to New Braunfels animal control and police. It took nearly three hours to sedate the animal, hoist it by helicopter and return it to its owners. But the zebra died soon after.
The zebra had been part of a pair sold to a property owner living off Texas 46 South less than 24 hours before the equine escape. At some point during the day, both of the zebras escaped from the property and swam across the Guadalupe River. One stayed behind, near the property, while the other shot to fame on the internet and sent officials on a chase.
It was rush hour when the zebra decided to take its tour of the town, causing some traffic delays.
“It’s kind of a sight to see,” New Braunfels police spokesman David Ferguson said. “People were being patient, no one wanted to hurt the animal.”
The zebra gallivanted through major thoroughfares in the city, including down Seguin Avenue, Castell Avenue and Walnut Avenue, city officials said. Officers in vehicles would catch up to the striped fugitive, then it would switch directions and they’d have to maneuver the vehicle back around, Ferguson said.
“We’d be following it at a nice, little trot and it’d suddenly make a sharp left turn,” Ferguson said.
By about 5:45 p.m., Ferguson said the zebra had ended up near the intersection of Loop 337 and West San Antonio Street in a rural area with large fields and a rolling hill. Officials would lose sight of the zebra and as they tried to spot it again, it would run back into the trees.
“It got lost for a little while,” Ferguson said.
The zebra’s previous owner showed up to the scene with a helicopter crew to help get the zebra back home. After about an hour and a half of trying to corral the zebra, it was able to be sedated in a brushy area along a railroad track and put into a harness. The zebra was then airlifted to a truck before it was returned to its owners.
But Ferguson had bad news around midday Thursday.
“The second zebra, which had been accounted for and penned yesterday evening, escaped its pen again sometime this morning,” he said, adding that police were alerted around 10:40 a.m.
Officers searched and found the zebra on the property where it lived, but outside of its pen, and it was dead.
Authorities didn’t immediately have a cause of death, but Ferguson said a variety of factors could be to blame, including heat exhaustion and stress.
Ferguson said the city has dealt with other kinds of loose animals, including horses, bovine and domesticated animals, but in the last five years there hasn’t been a loose zebra. Even when livestock has gotten loose, it does not often end up running all around the city.
“I can’t even think of one that’s similar to this,” Ferguson said.
“Throughout this journey, officers were able to successfully keep the animal and the general public from being injured,” officials said.