The Humane Society of the United States released the following statements regarding the zebra escape in Maryland, and the death of one of the animals by a snare trap while on the loose. The zebras have been on the run since the summer.  

On Oct. 20, 2021, the owner was charged with animal cruelty

Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Maryland state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said: 

“The sad fate of this zebra underscores the seriousness of this issue – both from the cruelty of captive exotic animal ownership and operations to the dangerous and barbaric use of traps. The owner of the farm from where the zebras escaped—Jerry Holly—is a U.S. Department of Agriculture-- licensed breeder with locations in Maryland and Florida. He has a long list of federal Animal Welfare Act violations and was fined $12,143 by the USDA in 2013 for violations that include inadequate veterinary care, unsafe enclosures, inadequate shelter, enclosures in disrepair, filthy conditions and failure to maintain records of acquisition and disposition.  

While Maryland has some restrictions against owning wild animals as pets, the law still allows some species to be kept in private homes, where their ‘owners’ are not able to properly provide for their care and well-being. In addition to the breeding farm owned by Holly, there have been sales of baby zebras at an auction house in Thurmont in the last two months. Zebras and other exotic animals are not meant to be pets or housed in facilities operated by unqualified individuals, as this Maryland zebra ownership, escape and now tragic death has further proven. 

The terrible fate of this zebra also shows how lax our laws are on trapping. Last year the Maryland legislature almost passed a bill that would have expanded the use of barbaric snare traps in the state. This sad situation is evidence that snare traps are dangerous—and too often catch unintended victims—sometimes people or pets. The legislature must learn from this and take steps to prohibit the use of cruel and indiscriminate snare traps across the state.”  

Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said: 

“An escaped zebra who died after struggling in a snare trap shows exactly what’s wrong with treating animals as commodities. The man charged with animal cruelty in this case, Jerry Holly, has a long list of federal Animal Welfare Act violations that include inadequate veterinary care, unsafe enclosures, inadequate shelter, enclosures in disrepair and filthy conditions. There are many more actors out there who use animals as a commodity— breeding, selling and exhibiting animals for profit without any care for the welfare of an animal who deserves much better.   

This was a disaster waiting to happen. We hope that sufficient action will be taken against this operator to ensure that more animals do not suffer a similar fate in his care. These animals need to be relocated as soon as possible to more appropriate facilities with responsible caregivers.” 

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