CALLAHAN, Fla. – A zebra was put down by its owner after it got loose from a ranch northwest of Callahan Wednesday afternoon, according to the Nassau County Sheriff's Office and other sources.
Witnesses said 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 told News4Jax 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 told News4Jax. "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, when News4Jax arrived.
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.
FWC code identifies three categories of captive wild animals -- Class I, Class II and Class III -- and includes permit requirements for the possession of listed animals and sets minimum standards for the maintenance and transportation of the same.
Zebras are not listed in Class I or Class II, but are included in Class III. People possessing Class III wildlife as personal use wildlife shall obtain a no-cost permit from the executive director of FWC.