Owner of escaped Maryland zebras charged with animal cruelty
© Associated Press/Natacha Pisarenko

The owner of multiple zebras on the loose in Maryland was charged with animal cruelty this week after one of the animals was found dead in a trap.

WUSA first reported that Jerry Lee Holly, who works as an exotic animal trader, has been charged with three counts of animal cruelty. At least three of his nearly 40 zebras escaped in August and have been wandering free for over 50 days. One was found dead in an illegal snare trap.

Court documents obtained by DCist stated that the dead zebra "was caught in a snare within two feet of the fence line — directly beside the fenced enclosure where the other 36 zebras were being held."

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One investigating officer said “the animal should have been seen or heard while it was dying from being caught in the snare if the caretaker had attended to the zebras in the fenced enclosure, and most likely died of dehydration after a period of a few days struggling in the trap.”

However, a cause of death could not be determined, WUSA reported, because the zebra was "completely decomposed."

A second dead zebra was found on Holly's property, apparently for long enough for rigor mortis to set in.

According to the documents, authorities received notice of three escaped zebras in August. Holly allegedly expressed no plans to recapture them when contacted by authorities at the time.

According to WUSA, Holly's business has been cited over 100 times by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for violating the Animal Welfare Act on his properties in Florida and Maryland.

Some of the escaped zebras remain at large and "pose a threat to the community [as] they continue to wander through communities, railroad, and public roads."

"The zebras at large have not received adequate food, water, or veterinary care. One of the zebras died because it was at-large," the charging documents stated.

Authorities described the escaped zebras as "a public nuisance" and as "dangerous."