OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 4:40 PM – Tuesday, March 14, 2023
In Circleville, Ohio, a man named Ronald Clifton, 72, was rushed to the hospital on Sunday after his zebra randomly attacked him by biting his arm and almost ripping it off his body.
The incident report cames from the Pickaway County Sheriff’s office, where deputies were sent to a fenced-in pasture at around 5:30 p.m.
When deputies arrived, they saw the injured man lying on the ground covering his right arm with his sleeve. According to the initial report, the dispatch information said that the injured man had his arm completely bitten off by a zebra that he owned.
However, the sheriff’s office has confirmed through a spokesperson that the man is being treated at Grant Medical Center and fortunately will not lose his arm like he originally assumed.
When deputies began helping the man, they claimed that the zebra continued to act flustered and even charged at an officer’s vehicle, which was strategically parked in a way to block the man from the animal.
Clifton was joined by other family members as he was helped and put into an ambulance.
“They’re definitely wild animals and still have, like, kind of all those wild instincts and behaviors… Male zebras are territorial. Their job is to get and hold a group of females that he wants to breed, and he’ll be very protective of those against any kind of challenger,” said Dan Beetem, Director of Animal Management at The Wilds.
The Wilds is a conservation breeding and research center located in Cumberland, Ohio.
The PCSCO deputy gave his own account of the incident saying that the zebra was aggressive due to being protective of the five or six female zebras that were also in the field.
Deputies claimed that they started blowing air horns and screaming at the zebra to try and scare it away but it still continued to rush towards them, as well as the injured man’s family members.
Clifton’s family told the officers to be careful and not turn their backs facing away from the animal, since that was when it would typically attack.
They gave the officers permission to put the zebra down if the situation was dire enough and called for it.
The zebra’s aggressive behavior continued and so a deputy fatally shot the animal in the head.
“The zebra had already shown aggression. And speaking with some of the family members and friends, apparently, this zebra has been aggressive in the past… I told (the deputy) I fully support what he did. He did what was best to protect the people on the scene there. And I talked to some people on the scene there, and they said they would have ended up doing the same thing if the deputy had not done that,” said Pickaway County Sheriff Matthew Hafey.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s website says that they do not consider zebras to be “dangerous wild animals.”
Deputy video footage captured of the incident told a slightly different story than what was reported by authorities, so some animal rights activists are furious at how this situation was handled.
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