New York is a pet-friendly city, no doubt about it. Yet seeing a pony and a zebra take off into traffic would likely catch the eye of even the most stoic city dweller.
That is just what happened yesterday when Staten Island resident Zachary Osher peered out of his window at work and saw the two zoo animals taking off down the street. Osher shot a video on his phone (see it below) and maintains that men with lassos were running after the animals, while their owner, Giovanni Schirripa, said he was aware of the escape and tried his best to coax them back to their yard with food.
Do you find it weird that a zebra can be kept as a pet? It turns out it’s not only strange, but illegal. According to the Department of Health, zebras are not allowed in New York except in a petting zoo or a zoo. Schirripa claims that he ran a petting zoo for Octoberfest and that he “rented a llama, two alpacas, two cows, six pigs, and three ducks. But the zebra was for keeps.”
The four-month-old zebra, Razzi, was bought for $6,000 a couple of months ago from a Wisconsin breeder, and the pony is 14 years old and named Casper. For now, they are being kept in Schirripa’s make-shift barn which is a transformed garage. Officials are currently looking into the situation since Schrripa claims he had a permit for Octoberfest to own the animals.
However, a health department spokeswoman, Chanel Caraway, says, “The Health Department has no record of a permit for a petting zoo. Health inspectors are investigating and will make sure appropriate measures are taken once the circumstances are fully evaluated.” Schirripa says plans had already been made for the animals to live in a large barn in New Jersey after the holidays.
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