The Wild Zebras of Maryland

Zebras sneezing, Lake Naivasha, Kenya, 2007 (photo by Eric Brelsford via Flickr Creative Commons license)

15 October 2021

The saga of Kodiak the Steller’s sea eagle who escaped from Pittsburgh’s National Aviary on 25 September ended when he was captured on 3 October. Not so for the wild zebras of Maryland. No one thought they would still be roaming in October and yet …

On 31 August, three (*not five) zebras escaped from an 80-acre farm off Duley Station Road in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. One was found dead in an illegal snare trap on 16 September. Now more than seven weeks later two are still on the loose in Prince George’s County. It’s not for lack of trying.

Zebras are genetically programmed to escape lions, hyenas and cheetahs so they’re naturally wary and very fast. They can’t be caught by chasing, they have to be corralled. Caretakers and Prince George’s County Animal Control have been trying to lure them into a pen. The zebras are having none of it.

At first there were many reports including this 7 September news story from NBC Washington. Click here to read the details. (Note: With six zebras in camera view, I believe this footage was taken above the farm.)

Plus this nighttime sighting reported by on 24 September.

But the news is quieter now. The zebras have plenty of grass to eat and lots of places to go. They’re winter-hardy and can be out there indefinitely.

Despite every attempt to domesticate them, zebras are forever wild.

p.s. For weeks the media reported that 5 zebras had escaped but on 14 October the Washington Post reported it was only three. At first three traveled together, then one died and it was two. Three + two = five? Not in this case.

UPDATE on 18 October: The latest plan for capturing the two zebras is to use more zebras!

UPDATE on 16 November: The zebras are still on the loose but there’s lots of news.

(photo by Eric Brelsford via Flickr, embedded videos and tweet from NBC Washington, WUSA9. Check @MarylandZebras for updates)

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