CALLAHAN, Fla. - The owner of a zebra who shot and killed the animal after it had escaped last month was cited for possession of captive wildlife for commercial purposes with a permit and warned for keeping the animal in conditions that allowed it to escape, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report obtained Thursday by News4Jax.
The eight-page report on FWC's investigation into the escape of the zebra, which was spotted running through the streets of Callahan, and its death March 27 also revealed that the owner, Larry Brantley, told wildlife officials he shot and killed the zebra, which he had just bought in February, because he was worried it would hurt someone while running loose.
Brantley told News4Jax by phone Thursday he was sorry about what happened to the zebra and that he takes very good care of his animals.
The FWC report chronicled a very detailed account of the loose zebra in Callahan.
On Feb. 15, according to the report, FWC inspected Brantley's Cottonwood Ranch on Old Dixie Highway. During that inspection, the report shows, an FWC recommended a nonissuance of a game farm license until Brantley finished the fencing for the wildlife he was planning to possess.
Ten days later, according to the report, FWC said it received another request from Brantley for a license for an exotic species of concern class III wildlife for a zebra.
On March 5, FWC recommended a nonissuance for both licenses. FWC said Brantley nor anyone in his household was licensed to possess a zebra.
On March 27, FWC received a call about a zebra on the loose. The FWC officer who took the call looked through records for people with permits to own the animal and did not find any names. According to the report, the officer remembered Brantley and his wife had recently applied for permits, but were denied. FWC said it called Brantley and asked whether he owned a zebra. The report stated Brantley said yes and when he went to check on the animal, he discovered his zebra was not in its enclosure at Cottonwood Ranch. The report stated Brantley shot and killed the zebra.
"I don’t know the circumstances, but I am a bit of an animal lover and unless an animal is injured or hurt, I don’t believe in putting him down," said Robert Huntley, a resident of Perret Plantation. "I think you do everything you can to keep him."
According to the report, it remains a mystery how the zebra escaped its enclosure. During the investigation, it was revealed Brantley's wife purchased the zebra from the Madison Auction Feb. 2, but Brantley assured authorities he is the one who paid for the animal and owned it.
FWC said Brantley was issued a citation for possession of captive wildlife without a permit and a warning for conditions which resulted in wildlife escaping its enclosure which results in injury to any person. He told News4Jax he had no comment about the citation and warning.
The ticket Brantley received was a second-degree misdemeanor. He could face up to 60 days in jail or up to a $500 fine.
According to an FWC spokeswoman, zebras are nonnative wildlife and are not protected.
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