Lonely zebra escapes zoo, runs loose in the streets of Seoul

WATCH: Zebra recaptured after escaping from zoo in South Korea

An escaped zebra gave officials in Korea the run-around for hours after breaking out of his enclosure and running amok in the busy metropolis of Seoul.

Sero, the three-year-old zebra, escaped the Seoul Children’s Grand Park zoo Thursday afternoon after a streak of rebellious behaviour following the death of his parents. The lonely equine’s big day in the city eventually came to an end when emergency workers cornered him in a residential area and tranquilized him.

Sero, whose name means “vertical” in Korean, referring to his stripes, was returned to the zoo in stable condition and was examined by veterinarians on Thursday evening, said Choi Ye-ra, a zoo official.

The young zebra escaped around 3 p.m. local time after reportedly breaking through some of the wooden fencing around his enclosure.

In the intervening hours, video footage taken shows Sero running free through eastern Seoul, weaving through cars and wandering down alleys, to the shock of residents.

One video posted on Twitter shows Sero cutting through multiple lanes of stopped cars before trotting down the open curb lane. The caption reads: “be safe zebra.”

In an interview with NBC News, Cho Kyung-wook, head of animal welfare at Sero’s zoo, said he was “so moved” that the people of Seoul were being so careful around the escaped zebra after seeing social media videos of his escapades.

For three hours, zoo officials, firefighters and police officers scoured Seoul, a city of 10 million people, for the zebra. At around 6 p.m., emergency workers located Sero in a narrow alleyway between homes and shot him with tranquilizers.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or property damage caused by the zebra running loose.

Authorities of Seoul Metropolitan Facilities Management Corporation transport a zebra which escaped from a zoo, in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, March 23, 2023.

Authorities of Seoul Metropolitan Facilities Management Corporation transport a zebra that escaped from a zoo in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, March 23, 2023.

Suh Dae-hyeon/Yonhap via AP

Cho told NBC that Sero’s behaviour changed after the loss of his parents within the last two years, leaving little Sero as the only one left in his enclosure. Both Sero’s parents died of illness, CNN reported, citing a different zoo official.

“Sero’s misbehaving started especially after losing his dad” last year, she said. “He would refuse to return to his pen and ignore the callings of his handlers.”

The curious zebra would peek through the fence at the neighbouring kangaroo family, but they didn’t seem keen on making friends.

“There was nothing major, but from time to time Sero would be bitten by the kangaroos,” Cho said.

Sero’s handlers tried to cheer up the lonely three-year-old with his favourite foods and treats: apples, carrots and sweet potatoes. But he even lost interest in that, the Washington Post reported.

The zoo is looking to address Sero’s loneliness at the source and is planning to introduce a new zebra into his enclosure – a potential girlfriend.

When the female zebra turns three next year, she will be moved to Seoul Children’s Grand Park zoo to join Sero.

“The lesson we have learned from Sero’s escape is that we need to expedite the remodelling of the zoo as soon as possible,” Cho told NBC. “We have a very old zoo and a lot needs fixing, including better security.”

Hopefully, Sero cheers up with the promise of new company, or we might hear of another zoo break soon.

— with files from The Associated Press

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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