Do zebras attack humans? Sometimes, yes. Here’s an example.

It is quite clear that zebras are potentially dangerous to humans. It depends how you interact with them. They don’t naturally attack people but if you approach them or attack, they will flee or retaliate. They are normally aggressive but there have been some violent attacks on people. The answer to the question is a positive ‘Yes!’ under certain circumstances when the animal feels threatened and a need to attack. One such occurrence recently took place in Ohio, USA.

Clifton lies on the ground severely injured
Clifton lies on the ground severely injured. This must be a body camera video screenshot from the police. Image source: The Sun newspaper.

The headline in The Times is slightly frivolous: “Grumpy zebra tried to rip off my arm”. Ronald Clifton was attacked by one of his zebras in a field. He owns them. They are well known locally. People come to look at them and there are signs at their compound, a field south of Columbus, Ohio, asking visitors not to feed them.

Last Sunday, one of his zebras attacked him. They almost bit off his arm.

It appears that a first responder, a police officer, arrived to help. This is the conversation:

“I got attacked by a zebra”, said Ronald Clifton to the officer.

“You got attacked by a what?” said the officer.

“A zebra!” he shouted in response.

Unsure whether she understood he then added:

“A horse!”

“Is your arm still attached?” she asked.

“I don’t think so. Come before it gets me again”.

A deputy sheriff from the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office, Michael Oberley, arrived. He tried to place his car between Mr Clifton and a herd of five or six zebras.

While doing this, he said that “a large male zebra charged my driver side door”.

He blasted his air horn and sirens which drove the animal away. He then went to Mr Clifton to administer first aid.

Both the deputy sheriff and another police officer helped Clifton to an ambulance which had pulled up.

Then another zebra appeared over the crest of a hill. The police officer said:

“Hey sarge! He’s coming back.”

Body camera footage released by the sheriff’s office recorded the response:

“Shoot the dumb son of a bitch if you have to,” said Mr Clifton’s son in law.

He said that the zebra apparently was known to be aggressive but would probably not attack them.

But as he spoke the zebra veered towards them. Sgt Stacey Eitel shouted at the zebra to try and drive it back but she failed.

Then Eitel levelled her rifle at the zebra and fired. She said:

“He came up just now on me and all these people here. I had to make a decision. I put a slug right between his eyes.” She was upset.

Lt Jonathan Strawser also of the sheriff’s office said Clifton’s arm had been saved and that he remained in hospital for further treatment.

Why do zebras attack humans?

Zebras are generally not known for attacking humans, and such instances are relatively rare. However, when zebras do attack humans, it is usually because they feel threatened or provoked. Zebras are wild animals, and like all wild animals, they can become aggressive if they perceive a threat to themselves, their young, or their herd.

In the wild, zebras are prey animals, and they are constantly on the lookout for predators. As a result, they can be easily startled by sudden movements or loud noises, and may respond defensively by kicking, biting, or charging.

Additionally, captive zebras that are kept in zoos or on farms may become aggressive if they are mistreated or if their environment is inadequate. In such cases, the aggression may be a result of stress, frustration, or a lack of proper care and attention. This last point indicates that Clifton’s husbandry of his zebras is below par. I wonder if the authorities should look at that in light of the attack on him. His zebras may perceive him as a constant threat.

It’s important to remember that while zebras may look cute and cuddly, they are still wild animals and should be treated with respect and caution. Visitors to areas where wild zebras roam should always maintain a safe distance and avoid approaching them or attempting to interact with them.

If you are in an area where zebras are present, it is always best to observe them from a safe distance and avoid approaching them. If you do find yourself in a situation where a zebra is behaving aggressively, it is important to stay calm and slowly back away while avoiding direct eye contact.

The zebra kick can exert 3,000 pounds of force and can be a killer.

Zebras as part of the horse family with asses, donkeys and the horse.

Below are some more pages on the zebra.

Commensalism: cattle egret eats insects stirred up by grazing Burchell’s zebra

The zebra’s stripes help to keep the animal cool

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Speciesism - 'them and us' | Cruelty - always shameful

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.