Charges filed against owner of escaped zebras in Prince George’s County

Charges have been filed against the owner of several zebras that have been running around loose in Prince George’s County, Maryland, for almost two months, and another zebra that belonged to him has been found dead.

Three animal cruelty charges were filed Tuesday in Prince George’s County District Court against Jerry Holly, 76, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, who has a herd of nearly 40 zebras on his property along Duley Station Road. Prince George’s County Animal Services Chief Rodney Taylor said the herd was moved to Maryland from Florida in late summer, The Associated Press reported.

The charges are animals at large, cruelty and neglect and manner of keeping/nuisance. All relate to the three zebras that escaped from the farm on Aug. 26.



The charging documents say the zebras have not received the care they require during the more than 50 days they have been on the loose.

It was revealed last week that one of the escaped zebras got caught in a snare trap and died in September.

According to charging documents, the trap was just 2 feet away from the fenced zebra enclosure. Snare traps are illegal in Prince George’s County, and an investigation into who set it is ongoing.

The documents go on to say that an investigating officer from Maryland Natural Resources Police thinks the animal most likely died from dehydration after several days of struggling in the trap. The officer said, in his opinion, the animal should have been seen or heard while it was dying if the caretaker had attended to his animals.

By the time natural resources police responded on Sept. 16, the animal was completely decomposed and the cause of its death could not be determined.

Another zebra that was not one of the escapees, was found dead Tuesday on Holly’s property. The charging documents say that animal had been dead long enough for rigor mortis to set in.

Efforts to capture the two zebras that are still running free continue, and the Department of the Environment (DoE) for Prince George’s County says it has inspected the property every two to three business days since they first escaped.

As the DoE investigates, it has chosen not to impound the surviving zebra herd. But it is exploring the possibility of getting help from animal sanctuaries if the decision is made to remove the zebras from the farm.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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