Runaway circus zebra shot dead on major motorway in Germany, police say

PHOTO: A zebra runs across a road in the village of Thelkow, northeastern Germany, Oct. 2, 2019. The animal had broken out of a nearby circus with a fellow zebra and had caused an accident on the A20 motorway in the area.PlayBernd Wuestneck/AFP/Getty Images
WATCH News headlines today: Nov. 14, 2019

A zebra that had escaped from a circus in Germany was shot dead Wednesday after causing an accident on a major motorway, police said.

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The striped equid was one of two zebras that had fled a circus near the northeastern town of Tessin early that morning. One was safely captured before dawn, while the other disappeared for hours, according to a press release from Rostock district police.

The runaway zebra was spotted around 8 a.m. local time on the A20 motorway near the Tessin junction, where it disrupted traffic, damaged vehicles and caused an accident between two parallel cars.

No one -- including the zebra -- was injured in the collision, but the highway had to be shut down while authorities attempted to capture the animal, police said.

PHOTO: A zebra walks next to a police car on the A20 motorway near the village of Tessin, northeastern Germany, Oct. 2, 2019. Tilo Wallrodt/AFP/Getty Images
A zebra walks next to a police car on the A20 motorway near the village of Tessin, northeastern Germany, Oct. 2, 2019.

The zebra then ran over the engine hood of a vehicle and fled the closed-off motorway. A patrol car was also damaged and a policeman was left slightly injured.

The animal was next seen on a field near the northeastern village of Thelkow. The circus trainer responsible for handling the animal tried to restrain it but failed, police said.

PHOTO: A runaway zebra stands on a field while a man with a stun gun tries to approach the animal in Thelkow, northeastern Germany, Oct.2, 2019. Bernd Wstneck/AP
A runaway zebra stands on a field while a man with a stun gun tries to approach the animal in Thelkow, northeastern Germany, Oct.2, 2019.

Authorities ultimately called in an emergency animal rescue unit, and the zebra was shot near the highway. The animal "died on the spot," according to the police press release.

"The exact circumstances are still being clarified," police said.

PHOTO: A zebra lies dead by the roadside after it was shot near Liepen, northeastern Germany, Oct. 2, 2019. The animal had broken out of a nearby circus with a fellow zebra and had caused an accident on the A20 motorway. Bernd Wustneck/AFP/Getty Images
A zebra lies dead by the roadside after it was shot near Liepen, northeastern Germany, Oct. 2, 2019. The animal had broken out of a nearby circus with a fellow zebra and had caused an accident on the A20 motorway.

The zebra's circus trainer, Angelo Madel, was in tears when speaking to German television channel RTL after the incident.

"A nightmare," he said, "there lies my child."

Madel, who has looked after the animal for years, said he feels betrayed.

"We wanted to catch it and had consulted with the police," he told RTL.