By Kelsey Bradshaw as published on The Statesman
“The idea of loose zebras in Central Texas had been a humorous one until news of the animals’ deaths came on Thursday…”
A tale of an equine escape by a pair of zebras in New Braunfels on Wednesday ended sadly when authorities on Thursday confirmed that both animals had died shortly after their capture.
The zebras had been loose for some time before drivers and residents in New Braunfels called 911 Wednesday evening to report seeing one of the zebras trotting through traffic, under Interstate 35 and on neighborhood streets. It was around 4:45 p.m. when the runaway was reported to New Braunfels animal control and police. It took nearly three hours to corral and sedate the animal, hoist it by helicopter and return it to its owners.
The zebra had been part of a pair sold to their owner less than 24 hours before their escape from his property off Texas 46. At some point during the day, both zebras escaped from their pens and swam across the Guadalupe River. One stayed behind, near the property, while the other sent officials on a chase — and shot to fame on the internet.
The zebra that was chased around town died shortly after being captured, city officials said. The second zebra was found dead on the property Thursday.
t was rush hour when one of the zebras decided to take a 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 vehicles 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, then spot it again, only to see it 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 sedated in a brushy area along a railroad track and put into a harness. It was then airlifted to a truck and returned to its owner.
The idea of loose zebras in Central Texas had been a humorous one until news of the animals’ deaths came on Thursday. At first, only one was reported dead, but by midday, New Braunfels police shared an update about the second zebra.
“The second zebra, which had been accounted for and penned yesterday evening, escaped its pen again sometime this morning,” Ferguson said.
Police were alerted the animal was missing around 10:40 a.m. and officers found the zebra dead outside of its pen on the property where it lived. 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, cows and other domesticated animals, but 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.