Two more zebras have been recruited to solve Maryland’s runaway zebra problem.
Three zebras stunned locals and viewers of videos online after they escaped from a farm in Upper Marlboro in August and were seen roaming around suburban Maryland.
One of the animals was found dead on Sept.16 in an illegal snare trap, according to officials. The remaining two are still on the loose.
After multiple failed efforts to capture the escapees, the owner and authorities have devised a plan to bring them in.
The idea is to use food and other zebras to attract the zebras at-large into a corral, in order to return them to the herd, according to a Friday press release from the Prince George’s County Department of Environment (DoE).
Veterinarians at the Department of Agriculture and DoE Animal Services staff agreed that this would be the best approach with least risk to the escaped animals.
“Our priority is to make sure the zebras are captured and returned to the herd,” said 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.”
The owner of the animals, USDA licensed breeder Jerry Holly, has been working with the agencies involved, according to authorities.
Holly has managed to keep a low profile, even as the story has made national headlines over the past two months. However, the attention of the killed zebra has brought scrutiny on his business.
“The sad fate of this zebra underscores the seriousness of this issue – both from the cruelty of captive exotic animal ownership and operations to the dangerous and barbaric use of traps,” the Humane Society of the United States said in a statement to WDVM.
His exotic animal breeding business in Maryland and Florida has owned large cats, primates, giraffes, bears and other animals, DCist reported, citing public records. He has reportedly been cited by the USDA for more than 100 violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including inadequate shelter, unclean and unsafe enclosures and failure to maintain proper records of sales.