Three Zebras Shot Dead After Escaping Hearst Ranch

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


H H.
O O3 years ago

WHAT A CRAZY AND INSANE WORLD WE LIVE IN AND IT'S NOT THE ANIMALS THAT MAKE IT THAT WAY ITS THE HUMANS'S. I'm sure that this situation could of been handled in a way that none of the animals would have been hurt no less killed. WE LIVE IN THE WILD WILD WEST WHERE SHOOT TO KILLIS THE NORM AND THEN THINK ABOUT WHAT OTHER OPTIONS YOU MAY HAVE HAD.This story makes me sick and mad as hell. Those who killed these animals should be investigated and if they found to be negligent they should be punished with fines and, community service. THIS SHOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED !

Mary Nardone
Mary Nardone3 years ago

This is absolutely devestating and heartbreaking :( RIP zebras. Free to frolic and play forever xoxo

Mary Cooke
Mary Cooke6 years ago

What TOTAL IDIOTS! THESE ZEBRA have no respect for boundaries!!! HELLOOOOO the last time I heard zebras are ANIMALS NOT PEOPLE! Therefore do not KNOW about boundaries! Are they going to shoot a child because they & scare their animals? After all these kids don't respect boundaries! Oh yes kids are taught about that, ANIMALS AREN"T !!!!! I HOPE Hurst sues the pants of them for NOT picking up the phone & calling the ranch or calling the police to get them to get in touch with the Hearst ranch! I wonder if their horses or cattle went on the HEARST RANCH & they were shot because they spooked the animals what they would say then?!!! I guess these big he men thought it made them real big & importent to shoot these exotics. All they did instead was show how tiny they realy are! By the way if they got on to neighbours land then Hurst wasn't the only one with a whole in the fence! SO why don't they put that in their pipe & smoke it! I guess it was a case of the gun was closer then the phone! What ABSOLUTE LAZY COWARDS THEY ARE ! I realy hope they are hit where it will hurt them most IN THE POCKET !!

Joy Dantine
Joy Dantine7 years ago

I wonder if public policy makers subscribe to C@NN.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle7 years ago

Yes, it would have taken a phone call to get Hearst or one of his employees, to round up the zebras. Think the horses and cattle could have "survived" a few more minutes in order for this to happen.

Sue K.
Sue K7 years ago

These Zebra's were killed because the humans wanted to kill them.They are lieing to cover for their inexcusable actions.
I hope they have to pay for the animals they killed for no good reason.Hit them where it hurts,in the bank account.

Susan O.
Susan O7 years ago

I think the ranchers should also be shot!

Lisa E.
Lisa E.7 years ago

YES, Laura S. I have helped at brandings. Real cowboys could easily have gone out 'sensibly in a low stress way' and roped the zebras. Behaviors described here saying --the zebras-- were 'spooking & chasing' is not consistent with normal animal behaviors. Herd animals out of their familiar territories naturally want to join with others of like-kind (regardless of color) when in unfamiliar territory. It's natural. They therefore try to enter with the herd. Certainly as outsiders they know they must proceed carefully and this would be attempted with caution on the part of the zebras & horses both. Horses, and I've trained many, are much more sensible than the 'cowboys' mentioned here. They would be naturally apprehensive of course and somewhat nervous as would the zebras but not stupid enough to be run into a fence. They instinctively know Predators from cows, moose, alpacas noisy trucks, etc. & many other situations in life. Being run into a fence is what happens when 'cowboy yahoos' persistently & tenaciously chase swinging ropes, shoot, or display threatening behaviors. The key words here are 'tenacity' and 'persistence' --traits humans display not animals. Horses know fences, are agile, smart, diligently protecting their bodies from 'our barbed wire fences' soon after birth. People will concoct any kind of story to protect their behaviors, their big game hunting expeditions whether a 'fish story' or a 'fishy story' -- precisely why we have cross-examinations

Nancy W.
Nancy W7 years ago

hope he pays for them bet they are as expensive then his horses.

Ann P.
A P7 years ago

I don't understand. Did no one notice they were missing and call in help? Did no one notice they were in the vicinity before they got close enough to spook the animals? Seems like it would be easy to spook the zebras out of the area. Wouldn't gunshot spook their animals? Something doesn't jibe.