Florida man shoots, kills his pet zebra after it escapes

Officials say man wasn't licensed to own animal

By Corley Peel

CALLAHAN, Fla. - A zebra was put down by its owner after it got loose Wednesday from a ranch northwest of Callahan, according to the Nassau County Sheriff's Office and other sources.

Witnesses told News 6 partner WJXT-TV that the zebra escaped from the Cottonwood Ranch on Old Dixie Highway and was seen running down Iris Boulevard, chased by several vehicles. They said when the zebra was cornered in a cul-de-sac about 2 miles from the ranch, the owner shot it with a rifle and killed it.

Sheriff Bill Leeper was told the zebra was injured during the escape and the owner euthanized it with a gun while deputies were at the scene. Witnesses said the animal did not appear to be injured and the owner killed the animal so it wouldn't hurt anyone.

"They didn't want it to injure anybody or anything," a neighbor said. "They decided to shoot it and put it down."

"I tried to stop him to see if I could get a picture of the zebra and he was like, 'Look, man, I've got to go. They're probably fixing to arrest me,'" the neighbor said.

Jenee Watkins was able to capture a photo of the zebra, named Shadow, while it was still running loose. 

"I had to stop and think a minute," she said. "It's not every day you see a Zebra trotting through your neighborhood."

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers and Nassau County Animal Control were at the scene, along with deputies.

Leeper said his department did not know the owner had a zebra. 

You can own a zebra in Florida, though it requires a state permit, which FWC said the owner of this zebra did not have. FWC has not said whether the owner will face charges because it is an ongoing investigation.

Read more at News4Jax.com.

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