Skip to main content

Bring on the dancing zorses: North Bend continues search for 'wayward zebra'


Regional Animal Services of King County issued a statement Thursday afternoon, correcting previous information it provided about the zebra on the loose around North Bend, Wash. Apparently, the zebra is a mare.

"Contrary to the owner's original statement, the missing zebra is a mare, or female zebra. This has been confirmed by photos from the public that show the zebra wandering in the area near North Bend," animal services said in a statement.

That statement nullifies a previous quote I got from an animal services spokesperson, who at the time believed the zebra was male, and said: "There is a non-zero chance that zebra could mate with a mare to produce a zorse." It also trashes the hopes that, perhaps some folks out there (maybe I'm projecting too much) had about a zebra stallion leaving some zebroids behind in North Bend before it moves along.

RELATED: I was chased by a zebra in North Bend

But hey, at least we got a decent Echo & the Bunnymen reference in a headline — an opportunity that does not come along often.

The rest of this story, however, remains true, and this "mystical" zebra has indeed woven itself into North Bend folklore, and song. Read more below about that.

As of Thursday, May 2, animal services reports that it has received "numerous credible sightings" of the zebra, but still, "so far the zebra has eluded capture." If you see it, call 911 and report its whereabouts or call animal service's non-emergency line at 206-296-7387. Do not approach the zebra.


As songwriter Bob Antone sings, "elk and zebras can't have babies." But zebras and horses can. They're called "zorses," and there are a few horse stables out in North Bend where a zebra stallion now roams free. So ... who knows?

RELATED: 'That’s not nice!' Brown bear eats entire family of ducks in front of kids at Seattle zoo

The zebra has now become embedded in North Bend pop culture. Antone wrote a song about the four zebras escaping from their trailer along I-90 through North Bend less than a day after it happened on Sunday, April 28.

The zebras started their journey from around Winlock, Wash., and broke free during a stop along the freeway. Three were quickly captured and sent to their original destination in Montana. But the stallion remains on the loose in the North Bend area. It's been sighted by locals, but it has continued to evade animal officers.

"We are still on the lookout for that wayward zebra," said Cameron Satterfield with Regional Animal Services of King County.

When the initial escape happened, Antone said he was close by. He even went over to the area where it happened near I-90 and looked around for the zebra. No luck. He did end up writing the song, "There's a herd of wild zebras running loose in my fragile mind."

"It is a really silly, fun song. I put it online and everybody just ate it up. I did not expect the reaction that we got," Antone said, adding that his song posted on YouTube has gone far and attracted media attention.

"There's something mystical about zebras, and there is also this connection that I am seeing with the 'Twin Peaks' community," he said.

The 1990s sensational TV hit "Twin Peaks" was filmed around North Bend. The city has been known for it ever since, and fans have continued to flock there year after year. In the show, black and white stripes are often featured (particularly on the floor of the White Lodge). There is even a passing line mentioned in a season three episode: "You know that zebra's out again?"

So to some, it's fitting that a zebra ran loose in North Bend of all places.

"There's this interesting connection that fans are making with this mystical animal, this zebra, and it's become, in a very short time, something supernatural, something folkloric," Antone said. "I think it's just fantastic."

North Bend Mayor Mary Miller told KUOW that North Bend, all 8,120 residents, seem to be aware of the zebra on the loose.

"I know that these are not 'our' zebras, but truly, our community embraced them the moment they jumped off the trailer at exit 32, heading straight into North Bend," Miller said. "We hope they love our mountain town as much as we do," she said.

Zebra + horse = zorse

Satterfield looked into other zebra escapes to see how those situations were handled. He found one instance in Maryland in 2021 — the zebras were loose for four months before being corralled.

Animal services is not organizing any large-scale searches. The agency has conducted a special emphasis in the North Bend area, however. There have been numerous confirmed and unconfirmed zebra sightings over the past four days — mostly around North Bend, south of I-90 near exit 32 where the escape happened. But the search area is rather large — it includes pasture land and the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.

"We've had to quickly become zebra experts, but from what we've learned it will probably do fine on grass or other plants that grow in the North Bend area, not to mention feed that people put out for their horses," Satterfield said.

"There are a few folks who have horses and pastures in that part of King County, so obtaining food may not be a problem for him. There are also plenty of sources for water nearby."

So there's plenty of time for this zebra, as well as food, and other horses in the area. Which brings me back to zorses. Apparently, a few people have been wondering if this stallion could mate with local equines.

"That's an issue quite a few folks have brought up!" Satterfield said. "When it comes to horses, mares are in season from now through early fall. So yes, there is a non-zero chance that it could mate with a horse to produce a zorse."

RELATED: Stranded baby orca swims free after being trapped in a BC lagoon for 5 weeks

Satterfield noted that while "zorse" is commonly used, the technical term for a zebra/horse hybrid is a "zebroid," and "zorse" is specifically used for the offspring of a male zebra and a female horse.

"We'll know for sure in March or April next year, since horses take just under a year to gestate," he said.

"We're expecting our typical Pacific Northwest mid-spring weather over the next several days, so extreme temperatures of either kind (cold or hot) are not too much of a concern right now," Satterfield said.

"There is, of course, concern about large predators that are known to inhabit that area, specifically cougars and bears. In the wild though, zebras face off with lions and other predators, so instinct would probably kick in if the zebra had a showdown with a predator that's native to our region."

There are additional concerns about other predators that roam I-90 — big rigs and other vehicles.

If you spot a zebra around North Bend, animal services is cautioning people against approaching it. While the zebra has been raised around people, it's likely scared and confused at the moment.

"It is a stallion, so it is a male, and they are a little bit more aggressive than the female zebras, so we’re asking folks to not approach it," Satterfield said. "Just give us a call, let us know where you saw it, cross streets are great, and geographic landmarks. Then let our experts who are training in corralling animals, to do that.”

"We can’t be everywhere all at once, so we are really relying on the folks that live in that area, the neighbors … to keep a lookout in their yards and pastures, on their Ring cameras, and they can call in sightings, and hopefully we can get out there quickly enough and get them corralled on their way to their new home.”

People are advised to call 911 to report zebra sightings.

Aside from that, animal services' non-emergency line is 206-296-7387. Photos and videos from zebra sightings can be sent to

Why you can trust KUOW