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article imageZebras escape circus, get brief taste of freedom in Philadelphia

By Megan Hamilton     Nov 17, 2015 in World
Philadelphia - Two zebras hoofed it to Freedom — briefly — on Sunday after escaping from a circus in Philadelphia, where they roamed the city streets for about an hour and brought traffic to a standstill.
Police vehicles followed in slow pursuit as the equines dodged in and out of traffic before being captured, RawStory reports.
The zebras went on the lam at about 2 p.m. Sunday, somehow escaping the UniverSoul Circus, near the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in west Philadelphia. No injuries were reported, The New York Post reports.
It must have been quite a show and a number of people posted photos and videos of the four-legged escapees trotting down the streets before being recaptured by police around 3:00 p.m.
Local police had a bit of a laugh over it as well.
"Zebras in custody," police posted on Twitter. "They are already sporting old-timey prisoner getup ahead of trial and sentencing. Have faith, fellas."
Wild zebras lead lives that are vastly different than their captive counterparts.
As close relatives of horses and donkeys, zebras are in the subgenuses Hippotigris and Dolichohippus. Each is famous for their beautiful black and white stripes, Defenders of Wildlife notes. Like our fingerprints, zebra stripe patterns are unique for every individual. It's thought that the stripes provide camouflage, making it easier for them to blend in among the tall grass.
While zebras primarily eat grasses, they are also fond of shrubs, herbs, twigs, leaves, and bark.
The plains zebra (Equus quagga) is the most numerous subspecies, numbering around 750,000. Grevy's zebras (Equus grevyi), were never as common, numbering about 15,000 historically. Sadly, there are only about 2,500 of these beautiful creatures today. Cape mountain zebras (Equus zebra) aren't numerous either, with only 600-700 left. The Hartmann's mountain zebra (Equus zebra hartmannae) numbers around 800-1300.
Wild zebras maintain very active social ties, living in large groups called 'harems.' For plains and mountain zebras, these harems consist of about one stallion and as many as six mares and their foals. Grevy's zebras get together as groups for short periods of time, Defenders of Wildlife reports. Sometimes the herds gather together, forming temporary groups of up to 30 members.
Living around predators as they do, zebras sleep standing up, and they only sleep when they are in groups that can warn them when danger approaches. If one of them spots a predator, they will bark or whinny loudly to alert other members of the herd.
It's worth noting that the UniverSoul Circus may provide good care for its creatures, but not all circuses do.
Captive animals used in circuses often lead lives that are harsh and brutish, One Green Planet notes. For horses and other domestic animals, this can mean spending long periods of time in cages, causing them arthritis and other joint problems. Horses are also frequent offered to the public for rides, and over time this puts a huge amount of weight and stress on the animal's back, paving the way for serious spinal injuries.
Even worse, many circuses don't provide animals with the veterinary care they need, meaning that ailments that might have stayed minor often turn into life-threatening conditions.
It's something to keep in mind the next time a wild animal makes a break for it.
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