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USDA report finds numerous issues at farm where zebras escaped in Upper Marlboro

On Wednesday, the report noted how three zebras likely escaped during an unloading process that took place early in the morning in late August.

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report on Wednesday raising numerous concerns with the Prince George's County farm where three zebras escaped earlier this year.

The story received worldwide attention back in August when the zebras roamed free for more than 50 days and residents reported seeing the animals.

One video on Twitter got almost one million views after it was posted by a man living in Upper Marlboro who saw the zebras.

However, the USDA report released on Wednesday painted a grim picture of the conditions facing the zebras on the farm. According to a report of an inspection done in late September, numerous problems were found.

Inspectors said 76-year-old owner Jerry Holly could only account for 36 of the 39 zebras that were brought to the property in late August, and he could not provide any of the original acquisition documents for the zebras he obtained. 

The report mentioned how the three zebras most likely escaped during the unloading process as it occurred early in the morning. 

One of the escaped zebras was later found dead with its leg in a snare trap along the fence-line near the farm.

"The zebras were not handled in a manner that demonstrated the licensee and staff were knowledgeable of the handling of zebras," the report said. "As a result, one of the zebras was injured and died."

The report noted how the barn where the zebras are kept needs minor repairs after the wood on a back wall was found to be rotting and gaps in it could allow cold air inside. "Unnecessary supplies and equipment" were also found in one section of the barn. 

"The barn must be repaired to ensure adequate protection from inclement weather and extremely cold temperatures," the inspectors wrote. "The unnecessary supplies and equipment must be removed to allow enough room for all zebras to seek shelter at one time and to prevent injury to the animals."

The USDA focused on the sanitation at the farm as well and said equipment was found in the pasture where zebras roam while piles of woods for building and fencing also sat nearby. 

Inspectors said "hazardous items" in the pasture could lead to injury or illness for the zebras.

The report further took direct aim at the staff at the farm.

According to the USDA, the 36 zebras were being taken care of "by one person with no experience or adequate knowledge of the species."

Back in October, Holly was charged with three counts of animal cruelty. Animal cruelty carries a penalty of 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. 

Holly works as an exotic animals trader and received the zebras from a Florida property in late summer, according to Prince George's County Animal Services.

RELATED: 3-year-old zebra sold for $15k in Thurmont despite Maryland's strict laws on exotic animal sales

RELATED: Zebra auction set for Thurmont, Maryland

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