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Ohio man nearly loses arm in zebra attack at farm

Officials initially thought the zebra tore the 72-year-old victim's arm off, but doctors were able to "save it." He is in the hospital and has undergone surgery.
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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 man 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, Sheriff’s Lt. Johnathan R. Strawser said. He said 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 in which a zebra bit a man at a farm in Circleville, Ohio, on Monday.Pickaway County Sheriff's Office

An officer positioned a cruiser in an attempt to block the zebras from the victim, but a "very hostile" large male zebra charged the driver's-side door of the vehicle, according to the incident report.

The officer scared the zebras away 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 shot and killed it.

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

The victim was taken to Grant Hospital in Columbus and is recuperating. Officials said he has undergone a number of operations 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 said that the farm owner had had the zebras for “quite some time” and that 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 Agriculture Department says zebras are not considered “dangerous wild animals,” which are illegal to own.