After investigating reports of a zebra in Seymour biting four people in two weeks, the Blount County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday it would not be filing any criminal charges.
The first report came June 21, when Blount Memorial Hospital notified BCSO that it treated a 26-year-old man for a zebra bite on his hand. The sheriff’s office did not identify him.
The second bite, around 1:20 p.m. July 2, was to a BCSO intern who was at the privately owned Brookhaven Animal Farm with a detective. They were in the area on a follow-up to an unrelated incident and stopped at the farm on I C King Road, according to a BCSO spokeswoman.
Vishaka Motheramgari was outside the fence and the zebra inside when it bit her, and the detective transported her to Blount Memorial Hospital for treatment, according to the report.
That report noted the property owner, Bobby E. White, Burnett Station Road, Seymour, previously had given the detective permission to be on the property, outside the fenced area.
Around 4 p.m. July 2, Michaela R. Napier of Seymour reported that the zebra bit her on the back when she turned to take a picture with it. Her friend, Ashley L. Vila, of Sevierville told The Daily Times she punched the zebra so it would release Napier.
Tiffany M. England of I C King Road, reported that she was petting the zebra around 8:45 p.m. July 3, when it bit her on the right bicep.
Nathan Johnson of Knoxville contacted BCSO after news reports to share what he saw of Napier’s bite.
“I’ve been there lots of times,” Johnson told The Daily Times in a phone interview, as he was feeding carrots and bread to the zebra, goats, chickens, donkey and other animals at the farm that afternoon.
Although Napier estimated she was 5 feet from the fence enclosing the zebra when it bit, and Vila said her friend was at least 3 feet away, Johnson and Knoxville’s Miranda Fritts, who was with him, said Napier was standing close to the fence, with a little girl standing in front of her for a photo when the zebra bit the woman.
“She was close up to the fence,” Fritts said, “closer than I would have put my children.
“I would never, ever put myself that close to a wild animal,” she said.
While they were within a few feet of Napier when the bite occurred, both said, “No one punched the zebra.”
“Everyone stood there frozen,” Fritts said.
However, before the bite they said that a small boy with the women was running around throwing gravel at peacocks and other animals that were outside the fence.
White told The Daily Times last week that the animals on his private farm are his hobby.
A sign that visitors say is new to the farm asks people not to feed or pet the animals and to stay back from the fences.