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Man Brutally Attacked by Raging Zebra in Ohio. "Come Before It Gets Me Again!"

Zebra also charged at police car.

A man in Ohio nearly lost an arm after being brutally attacked by a zebra that he owned.  Ronald Clifton, 72, called 911 on Sunday afternoon after being mauled by the animal. "I think he tore my arm off—send a chopper," he said. A dispatcher was initially perplexed: "You got attacked by a what?" they said. "Come before it gets me again!" Clifton pleaded. As unusual as the call may have been for the operator, first responders were probably not expecting to encounter what awaited them at the scene. Read on to find out what happened. 

After Attack, Zebra Remained Aggressive

Pickaway County Sheriff's Office/Shutterstock

When first responders arrived at Clifton's Circleville property, they captured bodycam footage of him lying on the ground in serious pain. His arm had nearly been ripped off his body, and he was hemorrhaging. Medics applied a tourniquet above his bicep to stanch the bleeding before rushing him to the hospital. In the meantime, the zebra began acting aggressively toward police officers who had responded to the scene.

"One of the zebras actually went up to our deputy, the first one that was on the scene, and poked his head towards the driver's side of his car and his window," Pickaway County Sheriff's Lt. Jonathan Strawser told ABC 6. "The deputy had to hit the air horn to get the zebra to go away." 

Zebra Charges Deputies

Pickaway County Sheriff's Office/Shutterstock

A member of Clifton's family tried to chase the zebra away with a stick, while another family member warned the police not to take their eyes off the beast. In the sheriff's office report, police said one man told them: "This zebra is aggressive and to put the zebra down if needed." Officers yelled at the zebra, trying to chase it off, but it charged at them. One of the officers shot and killed the animal. 

Sheriff Defends Actions

Pickaway County Sheriff's Office/Shutterstock

"I had to make a decision," the deputy who opened fire on the animal told ABC6. "I put a slug right between its eyes." "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," Pickaway County Sheriff Matthew Hafey told NBC4.

"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 that they would have ended up doing the same thing if the deputy had not done that."

Why Did It Attack?

Pickaway County Sheriff's Office/Shutterstock

It's unclear why the zebra attacked Clifton. It may have been protecting five or six other female zebras on the property, authorities said. A wildlife expert at the Columbus Zoo told NBC4 that aggressive behavior is not unusual. "They're definitely wild animals and still have, like, kind of all those wild instincts and behaviors," said Dan Beetem, director of animal management at the Wilds. "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."

Man Expected to Recover

In Ohio, zebras are not considered wild or dangerous animals and are legal to own; police said it was unlikely Clifton's other zebras would be confiscated. Clifton was hospitalized at Grant Hospital in Columbus. He didn't lose his arm and was in stable condition on Monday. 

Social Media Responds


Facebook commenters were largely mystified that a private citizen owned a zebra and expressed regret about the entire incident. "Sorry for the guy but also very sorry for the zebra," wrote one commenter. "Wild animals are wild. That's why they are called wild. Leave them where they belong and you won't have issues. Sorry this person was hurt but seems like many things can be prevented if people will leave animals be," said another. "A zebra shouldn't have an owner," opined one woman. "That's EXACTLY why people should not have wildlife as pets," said another commenter.

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