PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — Animal control workers in Prince George's County said they have successfully lured some loose zebras to an enclosure, but the ordeal isn't over yet.
According to Chief Rodney Taylor with Prince George's County Animal Control, three zebras have been on the loose for several days. They are believed to be near the area of Croom Road and Duley Station Road in Upper Marlboro.
The group of zebras, often referred to as a "dazzle," have been roaming the area for three to four days after making their way off the owner's property, Taylor said.
Taylor asked that nearby residents and curiosity seekers stay away from the area so that the animals are not spooked as caretakers worked to lure them to a baited enclosure while gaining their confidence.
“They’re very skittish,” Taylor said. “So if we keep too much movement that's going to just scare them out even further.”
Taylor said caretakers have successfully lured the zebras to a baited area where an enclosure made of corral fencing is being assembled panel-by-panel on successive nights to eventually fully contain the zebras.
“That's when it can get dangerous and they get on the highway," Taylor said. "So we don't want that.”
The progress is being monitored with game cameras which have captured images of the animals between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., Taylor said.
Taylor said the ultimate goal will be to tranquilize the zebras once they confidently enter the fully enclosed area and move them back to the nearby farm they escaped from.
Layla Curling was getting a snack when she noticed something in the backyard of her Upper Marlboro home on Tuesday. At first, she thought the animals were deer but suddenly realized what was actually walking around her backyard.
"I thought my mind was playing tricks on me," said Layla. "Then I went upstairs to tell my mom, 'there's a zebra in our backyard.'"
Layla's parents said they knew someone nearby owned the animals but they did not know who.
More zebras remain on their owner's property in Upper Marlboro, waiting for their striped friends to return home.
The escapees are part of a herd of 39 zebras that were moved onto the historic Bellefields farm off nearby Duley Station Road within the past two weeks, Taylor said.
According to the Animal Legal and Historical Center at Michigan State University, there are several breeds of animals that are illegal to own in the state of Maryland. Animals listed include foxes, skunks, raccoons, bears and others. However, zebras are not one of them. Click here to read the full list.
The property owner has the required U.S. Department of Agriculture permit to keep exotic animals, according to county authorities.
The farm’s owner is Jerry Lee Holly, according to state land records. Florida court records show Holly has been charged with animal violations as recently as 2016. A Marion County Florida court found him guilty of possessing captive wild animals without a permit according to court documents.
Holly paid a $286 assessment as part of the case, according to the records.
Holly is out of the country and unable to respond to any questions from WUSA9, according to an employee at the Bellefields farm.