Washington, D.C. is dealing with the Running of the Zebras, but its congresswoman wants it clear that she is not to blame.
Five zebras have been missing since August 31 after escaping from a private farm in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who represents the district in the House, issued a statement Friday denying any knowledge of how the zebras escaped—while also promoting her desire for D.C. statehood.
“Local news has reported that the zebras were let loose on Saturday or Sunday of last weekend, a period of time during which I was enjoying quiet time at home with my family,” she said.
“My alibi is solid, but given my career of fighting for statehood for the District, which includes years of explaining the importance of having consent of the governed, and given my recent opposition to fences, I can understand why the charge was made.”
I’ve been following the news of the zebras on the run in DC suburbs. Local news has reported that the zebras were let loose on Saturday or Sunday of last weekend, a period of time during which I was enjoying quiet time at home with family.
— Eleanor #DCStatehood Holmes Norton (@EleanorNorton) September 10, 2021
It’s unclear why Norton felt the need to weigh in, given that there have been no official claims of her involvement.
Rodney Taylor, the head of the Prince George’s County animal services division, told the Washington Post that authorities were working around the clock to apprehend the beasts, which had been spotted by residents across the state and in the D.C. suburbs. According to him, the owner did not appear to have any loose fencing, so it is unknown how the zebras escaped.
Eleanor Holmes Norton, Congresswoman for WDC via her Facebook profileTo Taylor, who has been with the division for 39 years, wild zebras are a new thing. “This one ranks up there” when compared to past incidents, he stated.
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Taylor estimated that capturing the zebras, which are legal to own in Maryland, could take up to a week. He warned the public not to approach them because they are easily scared and may bite to defend themselves.
Norton appeared to be optimistic about the situation.
“I hope the owners find the zebras and that all involved live long, full lives,” she said.
The Guardian is reporting that a team of animal control officers have grappled with an unprecedented challenge: how to catch a dazzle of free-roaming zebras.
Five of the animals escaped from a private farm in Prince George County over a week ago and have been roaming the neighborhoods south of Upper Marlboro in search of food.
While the roaming beasts have amused residents and sparked an impromptu metropolitan safari of social media pictures and videos, their presence has caused county officials a headache.
“You can’t hunt them down. They’re just too fast, they run, they won’t let you get near them,” Taylor told a local news affiliate.
“We do have a feeding station set up, and we’re winning their confidence. They are eating there every morning between 2am and 4am.”
Five zebras are on the loose in Prince George’s Co. right now!
Nearby resident Paul Curling shared this video of a zebra seen from his backyard.
Animal services says they escaped from a farm last week near Duley Station Road in Upper Marlboro.
The farm has a permit for them. 🦓 pic.twitter.com/dY7XDx6vfx
— Tom Roussey (@tomroussey7news) September 8, 2021
Taylor told the station that authorities planned to encircle the feeding station with panels, where the zebras could be tranquilized and returned to the farm. However, he admitted that capturing the unpredictable creatures was a delicate operation.
“If you spook them, you’re just pushing them further out. And that’s when it can get dangerous, they can get out on the highway. Things can happen,” he added.
The zebras, who were part of a larger herd of 39 that reportedly arrived from Florida at the Upper Marlboro private farm last month, escaped from their enclosure just over a week ago.
The farm’s owner, identified by Taylor as Jerry Holly, has not responded to media requests for comment, but according to US Department of Agriculture records, he is licensed to keep exotic animals.
The farm previously housed black-handed spider monkeys, dromedaries, mandrills, red kangaroos, brown lemurs, capybaras, and gibbons.
Residents who have seen the zebras have been reporting their location to animal control, according to Taylor.
Alexa Curling, who lives in the Marlton neighborhood, took a video of the animals as they passed by her house. Layla, her 10-year-old sister, told WJLA that she saw them from an upstairs window and called out to her mother, who did not believe her.
“I thought it was a deer for about three seconds, and then I noticed it was actually a zebra. She said I was crazy and stuff. She believed me after we looked out the bathroom window,” she said.
Taylor said of the creatures: “They won’t attack you [but] please do not try to corner them or try to catch them. They’re not used to being handled by humans, so they will kick. Zebras do bite.”