Call them the fugitives.
Five zebras that escaped almost a month ago from a Maryland farm remain on the lam.
The zebras got away on Aug. 31 from a private farm near Bellefield and Duley Station roads south of Upper Marlboro, and county animal control officials said their caretakers have been trying since then to catch them by luring them into a fenced feeding area. But so far they have not been able to corral the zebras.
Many area residents have reported sightings of the zebras. Animal control officials warned people who spot them not to try to take a selfie or catch them. The best advice is to leave them alone.
Several people have shared their zebra-spotting tales over the past few weeks. And their stories have been widely shared on social media.
Layla Curling, 12, was one of the first to report to her mom that she saw them near her family’s backyard fence that runs along a railroad track. Once her mom realized she was not kidding and saw a few of the zebras herself, her older sister took a video of them grazing, and the family reported the sighting to the local animal control division.
Joshua DuBois, a White House aide under President Barack Obama, also recounted a recent zebra sighting with his kids.
On his Twitter account, DuBois wrote: “That’s it. We saw wild zebras in PG County.”
And Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D, made a joke on social media about the zebra’s escape, denying she had anything to do with it.
The five zebras have been traveling in two packs - a trio together and the other two as a pair.
Catching a zebra is no easy task.
Rodney Taylor, chief of the Prince George’s animal services division, has said zebras can’t be chased but have to be corralled, loaded onto a trailer and taken back to their property. Caretakers of the zebras have built a temporary fenced area to try to corral the animals and have spotted them eating in the area for several nights.
To many, the zebras’ escape has raised a question: Is it legal in Maryland to keep zebras?
Taylor said zebras are allowed in the state and the county under permits from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to Taylor, the farm has 39 zebras and a proper, up-to-date USDA permit for them.
A spokesman for the USDA has said the agency plans to look into the case of the escaped zebras.
Taylor warned those who spot the escapees: “Never approach them, and don’t try to pet them.”
He added: “They’re not going to chase you down. But they are zebras, so they’re not handled by people a lot, so to defend themselves they could bite.”