Evasive missing zebra mare recovered in North Bend, is safe

May 3, 2024, 10:49 AM | Updated: May 4, 2024, 10:49 am

A zebra mare that had been on the loose in the woods near Snoqualmie and North Bend since escaping a transport truck Sunday was safely captured Friday evening.

The mare, originally misidentified as a stallion until Thursday, was rescued in the Riverbend neighborhood of North Bend after being on the run for nearly six days. The Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC), provided the update in a statement Friday night.

The zebra, now known to be named Shug, will be transported to Montana as the owner was moving the animals from Winlock in Lewis County to Anaconda, Montana, when the animal escaped and began its journey around the area, RASKC explained.

The owner of the animals, who has been identified as 35-year-old Kristine Keltgen, stopped just off Interstate 90 (I-90) in the North Bend area Sunday, reportedly to fix a problem with the trailer. When she went to secure the trailer, all four zebras took off. Three of the four were recaptured in a few hours with the help of intervening citizens and continued their journey east the next day. The fourth roamed in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains for nearly a week, becoming an international sensation in the process.

Private citizens joined with animal control officers from RASKC to make the rescue. RASKC reported the zebra appeared to be in good condition despite its nearly week-long adventure in the woods.

RASKC concluded its statement Friday by thanking its partners, including the King County Sheriff’s Office, King County Parks, the Washington State Patrol, the city of North Bend, and “the numerous residents of the area who assisted in this successful outcome.”

Previous zebra developments

RASKC said in an email Friday they would no longer be “actively searching” for the missing zebra. Officials had remained in contact with Keltgen about developments.

“They will continue to respond to credible reports of sightings, though,” the agency stated.

Shug, the fourth zebra, had eluded capture despite daily sightings from North Bend residents, property owners and hikers. Multiple neighbors told KIRO Newsradio Wednesday the zebra was spotted several times along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, with multiple encounters happening near the Riverbend neighborhood and Boxley Creek.

Nevertheless, as of Friday afternoon, the zebra remained wandering the forests surrounding North Bend with its black-and-white stripes standing in stark contrast to the green hills.

On Friday, King County officials closed off trail access points along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail in the Boxley Creek Natural Area, where the zebra was frequenting. People who tried to come out to see the zebra may have spooked it, they said.

In a statement sent to KIRO Newsradio Friday, RASKC said it has been in contact with Keltgen. She told RASKC she had a person local to the state of Washington familiar with animal behavior who attempted to capture the animal.

Keltgen previously told The Seattle Times she was bringing the zebras to a petting zoo she runs in Montana. She had been on the road for about two hours when she noticed one of the trailer’s floor mats was flapping and dragging behind her. When she opened the door to adjust the mat, the zebras ran out.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘Keep them away from the interstate,'” Keltgen said to the Times. “Then my next thought was, ‘I need help.'”

Keltgen told The Associated Press Friday she was not giving any further interviews “until we find her.”

Exclusive zebra footage provided to MyNorthwest

Video from a North Bend resident’s trail camera showed the missing zebra wandering near North Bend Monday at 11:56 a.m.

The resident who provided the video and photos was out on horseback with friends looking for the zebra. He provided MyNorthwest another exclusive image of the missing zebra Tuesday at 8:26 a.m.

The resident’s trail cam that caught the missing zebra also caught a cougar patrolling the same area the night before.

“I have no idea if a cougar would go after a zebra or not, but they definitely go after deer,” Joe, a North Bend resident, told KIRO Newsradio.

Uh oh! Cougar spotted on same trail as missing zebra wandering North Bend

That same resident also noted a bear has been seen on the same trail cam.

In North Bend, residents were concerned about the possibility of the animal coming across predators roaming the area. But among the greater community, the zebra’s persistent evasion of law enforcement, animal control and other recapture efforts, has lead to countless memes posted to social media, like one supposedly AI-generated image of Bigfoot riding the striped animal.

Zebra ‘sightings’: Social media users embrace animal with memes and jokes

Residents told KIRO Newsradio that multiple “zebra x-ing” signs have also been put up around town, and at least one local bar introduced a new zebra-themed cocktail on the menu. On Wednesday, stores on 436th Avenue Southeast had a sign that read, “Team Zebra.”

Contributing: Frank Sumrall, MyNorthwest; The Associated Press

Steve Coogan is the lead editor of MyNorthwest. You can read more of his stories here. Follow Steve on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email him here.

You can read more of Sam Campbell’s stories here. Follow Sam Campbell on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email him here.

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