Such a sad story: Three zebras that escaped from the Hearst Ranch in San Simeon, California, last week, were shot and killed by local ranchers, who said the exotic animals were threatening their livestock.
Zebras Posed A Threat To Livestock?
From San Luis Obispo Tribune:
David Fiscalini, the owner of the Green Valley Cattle Co. on Highway 46, said two of the zebras were shot after they had gotten into the horse pasture behind his house. The third was shot by a neighbor after it got into a herd of cows.
Fiscalini said he had no choice but to shoot the zebras because they were spooking his seven ranch horses, chasing them and putting them at risk of getting injured. He described the event as an ordeal and said he took no pleasure in killing the zebras.
It’s branding time on the ranch, and Fiscalini said replacing a horse that might have been injured by a run-in with the zebras would have cost him tens of thousands of dollars.
“These zebras have no respect for fences,” he said. “They tear fences down and go right through them.”
Fiscalini said the zebras weren’t trying to hurt his horses, but his animals were spooked by the presence of the exotic animals. He said everything he did was legal and that he did not need a depredation permit to kill the animals.
A Shameful Act
Mr. Fiscalini sounds a little defensive, as well he should. Whether or not gunning down three beautiful creatures needs a permit, it’s a shameful act. Maybe he thought he was back in the “Wild West,” protecting his property, and now he’s proud of his sport kill?
“These zebras have no respect for fences,” says Fiscalini, and he clearly has no respect for zebras. Anyone who has visited San Simeon knows that these animals are awesome to watch, and hundreds of tourists stop to admire and take photos every year.
The Biggest Private Zoo In The World
A little background here – Hearst Castle was built by William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate, on 250,000 acres near the northern California coast that he inherited from his mother in 1919. Hearst also created the largest private zoo in the world, beginning in 1923 when American bison, Rocky Mountain elk, and European white fallow deer were introduced.
Hearst Castle is now owned by the state of California, but Hearst Ranch, where the zoo was, remains in private hands. Very few descendants of Hearst’s original animal collection remain, but there are still a few Barbary sheep, tahr goats, sambar, and about 80 zebras that still wander the ranch’s 82,000 acres.
Zebras Like To Roam
And so three of these zebras wandered off their land, over a fence, and into a neighbor’s ranch. For this they were killed.
As reported in the San Luis Obispo Tribune, Hearst’s great-grandson, Steve Hearst, said he was “a little shocked and disappointed that our neighbors wouldn’t have just called to say ‘We have three of your zebras down here, and how do you want to get them back.’”
Creative Commons - Martin Pettitt