The Humane Society of Maryland is speaking out two months after three zebras escaped an exotic pet farm in Prince George’s County.
The three zebras escaped the farm in late August and two of them have remained on the lam ever since (one zebra was sadly killed in September after getting caught in an illegal snare trap).
Following the death of the zebra, the Humane Society condemned exotic pet farms, calling out their animal cruelty. In a statement to local news station WDVM, Maryland State Director Jennifer Bevan-Dangel said,
“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.”
“While Maryland has some restrictions against owning wild animals as pets, the law still allows some species to be kept in private homes, where their ‘owners’ are not able to properly provide for their care and well-being.”
The statement specifically called out exotic farm owner Jerry Holly (who owns the loose zebras) for having thousands of dollars in fines that violate animal welfare regulations.
Five zebras were spotted walking behind a house in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The animals have been on the loose since escaping from a nearby farm. https://t.co/9ax0W0d7QN pic.twitter.com/cQYjaM7SEN
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 10, 2021
Unfortunately, this story of animal cruelty is one that Americans have come to know well. It’s eerily similar to that of Joe Exotic and his exotic animal park, which folks were introduced to via Netflix’s docuseries Tiger King. Although Tiger King focused on the inhumane treatment of big cats in roadside zoos, this poor treatment of animals sadly extends to several other wild animals, including zebras.
Every state has different laws and regulations regarding the ownership of exotic animals, and, as Bevan-Bengel noted in her statement, Maryland laws are way too lax. She wrote,
“Zebras and other exotic animals are not meant to be pets or by unqualified facilities, as this Maryland zebra ownership, escape and now tragic death has further proven.”
As for the two zebras that continue to roam free in Maryland, authorities are attempting to come up with new ways to safely get corral them back into captivity. Their latest plan includes introducing more zebras in order to lure the loose zebras back into the herd.
This incident proves yet again that exotic animals should not be held in captivity, and certainly not by those who lack the knowledge and equipment to properly care for them.
If there is any decency in this world, the two zebras will be released back into their natural habit in the grasslands of eastern and southern Africa. But it’s doubtful that the zebras will get the happily-ever-after they desperately deserve.