Four Zebras Escape From Trailer on Washington State Highway—One Is Still on the Loose

The animals ran around residential areas before community members—including a former rodeo bullfighter—helped corral three of them

A zebra runs in a pen
One of the loose zebras runs through a pasture before being recaptured. The zebra that is still on the loose was spotted on Monday. Regional Animal Services of King County via X

Four zebras escaped from a trailer on a highway in Washington state on Sunday, leading to a community effort to track down and corral them. So far, three of the zebras have been recaptured, but one remains on the loose.

The trailer driver, Kristine Keltgen, tells the New York Times’ Michael Levenson that she was transporting the zebras from a farm in Washington, where she purchased them, to a petting zoo she owns in Montana.

But as the trailer traveled east down Interstate 90 on Sunday, the latch holding its doors came undone. Laura Fisher was driving behind the vehicle, and she tells the Seattle Times’ Caitlyn Freeman and David Kroman that she saw its doors flapping—and the zebras approaching the opening.

When Keltgen noticed the problem, she pulled over on a highway exit to fix it. But with the vehicle stopped, the zebras escaped.

A zebra walks down a road with a police car in front of it
One of the escaped zebras walks down a road on Sunday. Cars pulled over on the side of the road in a group effort to prevent the animal from wandering into traffic. Trooper Rick Johnson via X

Other drivers made an effort to prevent the loose animals from wandering into traffic.

“The cars on the off-ramp kinda pulled over by the guardrail and kinda lined up really close to kind of make a makeshift fence to keep them from coming up onto the off-ramp area,” local resident Dan Barnett tells KING 5’s Quixem Ramirez and Maddie White.

While this successfully kept the zebras away from the highway, the creatures ended up running for nearby neighborhoods in North Bend, Washington. People around town caught sight of the out-of-place animals.

Local resident Whitney Blomquist tells Jackie Kent and Alton Worley II of KOMO News that the motion sensor on her home’s security camera drew her attention to the presence of some striped intruders in her side yard.

“They start walking up my driveway,” she tells the publication. “I’ve had plenty of bears in my yard, but this was a new one, for sure.”

“I saw some cars try and get into the neighborhoods to fence them in,” Jon-Erick Anes, who was getting brunch when the zebras arrived nearby, tells KING 5. The animals got away, and then “they just started hanging out in the grass in somebody’s yard across the street.”

As luck would have it, a former rodeo bullfighter happened to be driving in the area at the time, along with his wife, a horse trainer. The married couple helped capture two of the zebras by constructing a makeshift pen from ropes, metal panels and a garden hose, which they used to shepherd the creatures into the trailer.

“My wife and I read animals very well, and we’ve helped catch lots of loose animals—buffalo that have gotten loose, racehorses,” David Danton, the former bullfighter, tells the Washington Post’s Frances Vinall. “We thought, ‘All right, let’s go see if we can help.’”

A third zebra, which was a juvenile, was corralled on another road, and the three rescued zebras have been transported to Montana. The fourth, however, remains free, according to the Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC).

4 zebras escape on I-90 as neighbors and law enforcement work to wrangle runaway animals

Dallas Clark, a volunteer for King County Animal Control, tells KING 5’s Brady Wakayama that the fourth zebra was spotted on Monday afternoon before getting away again.

“There have been numerous confirmed and unconfirmed sightings of the animal, all still in the same general area of King County where it escaped with three other zebras on Sunday,” officials said in a statement Wednesday. “Animal control officers from RASKC are following up on these leads and will continue to regularly patrol the area over the next several days at least.”

Cameron Satterfield, a spokesperson for RASKC, tells the Washington Post that the search involves infrared drones and search-and-rescue dogs.

Residents shouldn’t try capturing the animal, officials say, and instead should call 911 with any information.

“We just don’t want people pushing on him,” Clark tells KING 5.

“We want to be able to get him back to his owner and where he belongs,” Satterfield tells the Washington Post.

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.