Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the extent of the victim’s injuries.
CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) – A man was taken to the hospital Sunday afternoon, March 12, 2023, after a zebra attacked him in Pickaway County, Ohio.
According to an incident report from the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were sent around 5:30 p.m. to a fenced-in field after reports that a man was seriously injured by a zebra he owned.
As deputies arrived, they saw the victim lying on the ground with his right arm covered with his sleeve. According to the incident report, dispatch logs said the victim had his arm bitten off by the zebra.
However, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office confirmed to Nexstar’s WCMH that the man was being treated at Grant Medical Center and will not lose his arm.
An edited version of the deputies’ body camera footage is below.
While deputies were treating the man, the zebra continued acting irate and charged one deputy’s cruiser, which was positioned to block the man from the animal. The man was accompanied by family members as he was being put in an ambulance since the zebra would not stop being hostile.
A wildlife expert at the Columbus Zoo shared some insight into the zebra’s behavior.
“They’re definitely wild animals and still have, like, kind of all those wild instincts and behaviors,” said Dan Beetem, Director of Animal Management at The Wilds. “Male zebras are territorial. Their job is to get and hold a group of females that he wants to breed, and he’ll be very protective of those against any kind of challenger.”
One account from a PCSO deputy in the incident report was that the “zebra was aggressive due to being protective of about five or six female zebras that were in the field.”
Deputies began blowing air horns and yelling at the zebra to scare it away, but it continued to charge toward authorities and the victim’s family members. They told the deputies not to turn their backs on the zebra, since that was when it would attack, and gave them permission to put down the zebra if necessary. A deputy then fatally shot the zebra in the head due to its continued aggressive behavior.
“The zebra had already shown aggression. And speaking with some of the family members and friends, apparently, this zebra has been aggressive in the past,” Pickaway County Sheriff Matthew Hafey told WCMH. “I told (the deputy) I fully support what he did. He did what was best to protect the people on the scene there. And I talked to some people on the scene there, and they said that they would have ended up doing the same thing if the deputy had not done that.”
After the zebra was killed, the man was taken to Grant Medical Center for his injuries.
According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, zebras are not considered “Dangerous Wild Animals.”