What started as a wild goose — make that zebra — chase Wednesday afternoon concluded tragically Thursday morning after two escaped zebras were recaptured but died soon after, according to reports by the New Braunfels Police Department.
NBPD received a call around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday afternoon about zebra sightings on the west side of New Braunfels and dispatched officers to aid animal control.
A two-and-a-half hour zebra-chase ensued, resulting in the capture of one of the zebras. The animal had crossed numerous busy streets and intersections including Seguin Avenue, underneath I-35, Castell Avenue, Business I-35, Walnut Avenue, the I-35 frontage road and Loop 337.
The other zebra remained in the immediate area of the ranch, according to a NBPD report.
“The first one was tranquilized and air lifted out, over near the jail site close to the train tracks by Loop 337,” said David Ferguson, public information officer for NBPD. “Tranquilizers usually take about 10 minutes to kick in — that zebra’s heart rate was going so high it was probably about 20 minutes.”
The animal was then harnessed, briefly airlifted to a nearby truck and trailer, and returned to its rightful owners. NBPD reported that the zebra died shortly after its return.
The second zebra was returned to the owners and replaced in its pen, however it was able to escape once again and another small chase ensued Thursday morning, NBPD said in a released statement.
NBPD officers assisted animal control officers in the search, which concluded when an NBPD officer discovered the zebra on the correct property out of its pen, but already dead.
At the time of the first zebra’s capture, police weren’t sure exactly where the pair came from.
“We’ve heard they were raised on a ranch outside of the city and earlier today someone bought the zebras and put them on their property, thinking the Guadalupe was a natural barrier that would keep them in,” Ferguson said. “We understand the zebras got loose by swimming across the Guadalupe River and made a run for it across the city.”
NBPD was assisted in the zebras’ recapture by a helicopter team that specializes in safely trapping animals (manned by the original owners of the animal).
“We got him in the trailer. He’s in custody — and he already has his stripes,” one official was overheard saying on his radio after the first zebra was successfully captured.