ATLANTA — An Atlanta highway turned into a circus Thursday afternoon when an escaped zebra galloped along a busy section of interstate with police in hot pursuit.
The 12-year-old animal, named Lima, was exercising outside an arena in preparation for an evening show when something spooked him, a Ringling Brothers and Barnum &Bailey Circus spokeswoman. The zebra broke away from his trainers and bumped up against a fence, then wriggled through an opening.
“We’re not sure what it was that startled him, but we’re looking into that,” she said.
He was spotted by people in downtown Atlanta around 4:30 p.m., a Department of Transportation spokeswoman said.
Daniel Nance said he saw the zebra near the downtown MARTA transit station.
“All of a sudden a freaking zebra comes running down the street like a car,” Nance said. “Five or six police cars were in hot pursuit. And a bunch of officers on foot. But then I got scared, thinking … what else is loose?”
Lima led his trainers and police on a 40-minute chase through downtown to the interstate highway that cuts through the center of the city, covering well over a mile. Police cruisers blocked off all southbound lanes of Interstate 75 and were able to herd the zebra over to the right shoulder and off an entrance ramp, where his trainer was on hand to capture and soothe him, the circus spokeswoman said.
“He obviously was excited, but he was in good shape,” she said. “His handler calmed him down.”
The animal suffered cuts on his hooves from his long run, she said.