Zebra Attack: Stripes and death at the National Zoo

A zebra attacked a keeper at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. on Monday morning, sending the man to the hospital and a neighboring gazelle into a wall.

Top:A Grévy’s zebra stallion. Wikipedia Commons

A 10-year-old Grévy’s zebra named Gumu bit a zoo keeper several times. The man was conscious, alert and talking when he was taken to the hospital, according to the Washington Times. Tony, a year-old critically endangered Dama gazelle, was not as fortunate.

Spooked by the chaos in the zebra enclosure, Tony spooked and sprinted off, only to slam head-first into a barrier. The young gazelle broke his vertebrae and died.

Dama gazelles

Dama gazelles. Photo: Wikimedia Common

In what may be the understatement of the day, zoo spokesperson Pamela Baker-Masson told the Washington Post that Gumu “needs to calm down.” He has been isolated and removed from public view.

Grévy’s zebra are considered dangerous animals. The zoo maintains special barriers between them and staff. Zoo spokesperson Annalisa Meyer told NBC that it’s not protocol for keepers to be inside enclosures with the animals and that the zoo is investigating the event, according to Salon.com.

Zookeepers usually move the zebras into stalls or holding areas while their food is placed into their enclosure. They leave the enclosure before the zebras return to eat.

Plains zebra fight

Plains zebra fight. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Other, far less tragic instances of zebra attacks, involving no other endangered species (but endangered snack food), have been caught on video:

[Meagan Sweatman]

Go Riding.


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