A Staten Island Stampede? Zebra and Friend Horse Around in New York City Neighborhood

Zebras in South Africa

The zebras in the picture above this story are in South Africa.

You expect to see zebras in South Africa.

You don’t expect to see them in North America – and certainly not in a city of eight million people.

But Zachary Osher saw a zebra Wednesday morning, on the streets of Staten Island in New York City.

“Is this actually happening to me?” he remembers thinking, as he told the story to New York City TV station WNBC.  “Am I finally losing my mind?  This can’t be happening.”

But it was.

As Osher looked out the window of his store, he saw a zebra called Razzi racing down Victory Boulevard, following a pony named Casper.

“This is a zebra on Staten Island,” he told WNBC reporter Mark Santia.  “On the street!”

Razzi didn’t run all the way from Africa.

He and Casper live in the Travis section of Staten Island, with Giovanni Schirripa.

Around nine o’clock Wednesday morning, Schirrippa says he forgot something when he went out to clean the animals’ stall.

“I forgot to shut the gate,” he told the Advance, Staten Island’s newspaper.

When Casper saw the chance to escape, he took full advantage of it – with Razzi racing behind.

“They came around and they were galloping,” Osher said, according to the New York Times.

“They ran up the street toward (a school) and stopped traffic,” added Joan Shaheen of the Mother Moose bakery, in an interview with the Advance.

But their freedom lasted only an hour or so.

There are conflicting reports about the way the capture went down.

New York City’s Police Department told the Times that officers had to catch the animals and bring them home.

Schirripa claims he himself got Razzi to come home by luring him with food.

“I got the food and he walks right up to me,” Schirripa told the Times.

Whatever it was, by 10 o’clock Wednesday morning, Casper and Razzi were back home with Schirripa.

Why is Razzi on Staten Island the first place?

Schirripa says he got the zebra to be part of a petting zoo and then decided to keep it as a pet.

“I always wanted one,” he told the Advance.  “I figured I’d get something different.”

There are a couple of problems, though.

First of all, New York City health officials reportedly found that Schirripa didn’t have the proper permit to display the zebra at the petting zoo.

And second, the city does not allow you to keep exotic animals such as zebras as pets.

(“Exotic” means foreign – or in this case, wild.)

Schirripa is also apparently learning the hard way that wild animals can be a handful when they start growing up.

“It’s a lot harder than I thought,” he told the Times.

Fortunately, according to the Times, Razzi and Casper have a country home in Phillipsburg, New Jersey.

So they’ll have some place to go if they get kicked out of the city.

And they won’t have to run all the way there.

They’ll get a ride.