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Ohio man nearly loses arm in zebra attack at farm

The 72-year-old victim is in the hospital and has undergone surgery. Officials initially thought the zebra tore the victim’s arm off, but doctors were able to “save it.”
/ Source: NBC News

An Ohio farm owner was hospitalized after one of his zebras attacked him and nearly took his arm off, officials said.

Deputies with the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office found a 72-year-old victim on the ground when they responded to a call about an animal bite around 5:30 p.m. Sunday in Circleville, about 30 miles south of Columbus. 

The owner had been burning brush when he turned his back and the zebra attacked him, Lt. Johnathan R. Strawser with the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office said. He noted there were six to seven zebras in a fenced-in area on the property.

Sheriff's deputies respond to an incident of a zebra biting a man on March 13, 2023, at a farm in Circleville, Ohio.
Sheriff's deputies respond to an incident of a zebra biting a man on March 13, 2023, at a farm in Circleville, Ohio.Pickaway County Sheriff's Office

A responding officer positioned their cruiser in an attempt to block the zebras from the victim, but a “very hostile,” large male zebra charged the driver-side door of the vehicle, according to the incident report.

The officer scared away the zebras using the car’s horn and sirens.

The victim was found with a hemorrhage to his right arm below the elbow and was taken away by ambulance.

As deputies were tending to the victim, an officer saw the male zebra approaching EMS staff and the victim’s family, the incident report said.

The family authorized deputies to put down the animal and after failed efforts to scare it away by yelling, an officer fatally shot it.

The incident report indicated that the zebra was “aggressive” likely because it was “protective” of the other zebras, all females, in the field. 

The victim was transported to Grant Hospital in Columbus and is recuperating. Officials said he has undergone a number of surgeries and will have several more.

“Some damage to his arm, but we believe they saved it. So that’s a positive thing because at first they thought that the zebra totally tore it off,” Strawser said.

Strawer said Sunday’s attack was a “freak thing.” He noted that the farm owner had the zebras for “quite some time” and the sheriff’s office had no history of the animals being aggressive. 

He noted that it was not illegal for the man to own the zebras. The Ohio Department of Agriculture says zebras are not considered “Dangerous Wild Animals,” which are illegal to own.

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