How A Zebra Nearly Left One Man Without An Arm

A male zebra attacked a 72 year old man at his Ohio farm, leaving his arm in bad shape and forcing officers to shoot the animal.

By Rick Gonzales | Published

zebra attack

They are very distinctive in appearance with their white and black stripes and resemblance to a horse. From all appearances, zebras also own a temperament like a horse as well, but those who deal with zebras closely may shed a different light on the animal. To those who do, hearing about a zebra attack that nearly took off a man’s arm would not come as a surprise.

The incident happened on a farm in Circleville, Ohio when deputies received a call for help from a man who said: “his arm had been bitten off by a zebra.” Circleville is around 28 miles away from the city of Columbus and when the first deputy arrived at the farm, he arrived to a “hostile” zebra. This forced the deputy to put his car between the zebra and the severely wounded 72-year-old man who lay on the ground from the zebra attack.

As the deputy positioned his vehicle, the hostile, large male zebra charged the cruiser. The deputy then used his siren and air horn to scare back the zebra, allowing the deputy to get out of his vehicle, reach the badly injured man, and apply a tourniquet to his mangled arm. According to reports, the unnamed man, the farm’s owner, was burning brush when he turned his back to the six or seven zebras who reside on the farm, and the male zebra attacked.

Medical personnel arrived, and the man was moved to the ambulance. But while the medics were tending to the badly injured man, the zebra who attacked the man continued to linger in the area. It also remained very aggressive.

Another unidentified man at the scene told the deputies at the scene that the zebra continues to be aggressive, so if they have to, they have permission to put down the zebra. From the deputy’s body cam footage, another man could be seen trying to scare off the aggressive zebra with a large stick. It helped for about a minute, but then the animal began moving back toward the injured man, medics, and deputies.

According to the sheriff’s report, the deputy said the zebra turn towards the group, making another aggressive move. “[The] Zebra didn’t slow down and kept coming at me,” the report read. So, when the zebra didn’t stop when the deputy yelled at it, the deputy fired one shot, killing the zebra instantly.

Circleville officials were unsure what prompted the attack. The report said it was most likely that the zebra attack was predicated on the zebra being protective of the other female zebras on the farm. It was the first time any incident involving the animals had been reported.

The zebra attack man was taken to Columbus’ Grant Hospital, where he has already undergone numerous operations. He is scheduled to have several more operations, but as of now, he is recuperating from the violent attack. “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,” Sheriff’s Lt. Johnathan R. Strawser reported.

Lt. Strawser also said that the zebra attack was a “freak thing.” He noted that the farm owner has had the zebras for a while and that there was no history of any of the zebras being aggressive. Lt. Strawser also said that it wasn’t illegal for the man to own zebras as, per the Ohio Agriculture Department, they are not considered “dangerous wild animals” which, under law, are definitely illegal to own.

So, Lt. Strawser claims the zebra attack to be a “freak thing,” but is it? How aggressive are zebras, and is a zebra attack more common than we think? Let’s find out.

Zebras, unlike their cousin the horse, are known to be very aggressive in the wild. They have a much different temperament than a horse and are much more dangerous. They pair up their very vicious bite with a sometimes-fatal kick.

Yes, appearances can be deceiving, and with zebras, that is especially the case. They can be dangerous to humans, as the 72-year-old farmer found out, but they can be even more dangerous to their own kind. They are known to push, kick, and bite animals they sense to be predators, and they also use those abilities as self-defense to protect their herd and themselves.

As part of their aggressiveness, zebras have been known to kick each other to death. Their strong kick has been documented in fighting off attacking lions. They have also been known to have enough strength in their kick to even kill a lion.

As for zebra’s aggressiveness toward humans, they will sometimes attack a human when humans are attempting to approach, feed, or pet them. This usually happens if a zebra feels threatened or cornered, or they are protecting its young. As witnessed above, the most aggressive zebra is the male.

What makes the zebra attack on the 72-year-old farmer puzzling is that while zebras can be aggressive, they can also be very gentle and docile animals. They can be found living in herds, which is where they feel the most comfortable and protected. Their herd usually consists of 7-10 zebras.

Another puzzling aspect of the zebra attack is that zebras don’t typically go after humans unless they feel threatened, provoked, or are protecting the young. None of this seemed to be the case with the farmer. Thankfully, though, as brutal as the zebra attack was, the man will survive with his arm intact.