A zebra that was being kept as a pet on a family farm froze to death after getting its hind hooves stuck on a fence on Wednesday, according to police.
The animal was one of several exotic creatures being housed on the property near Delphi, Indiana, but was the only one to die when temperatures hit -17F in the area.
It got caught in the fence and died because it panicked, according to vets, who said it that when it breathed in faster and deeper than it usually would have done, the cold air froze the moisture in its lungs.
A distressing photograph taken by a neighbor showed its lifeless body lying in the snow.
The zebra died on Wednesday after getting its hind legs stuck in the fence of its owner’s property in Delphi, Indiana. A veterinarian said it panicked, breathed in too quickly and died because of the frigid air
In a second image, it shown lying in a heap with its hooves still entangled in the fence
It is unclear if its owner was home at the time. Police have not released their name and they have not been hit with any charges.
Caroll County Sheriff Thomas Leazanby said that the animal died as the result of a ‘freak accident’.
Police officers were called to the home but they found no proof of negligence because there was ‘adequate housing’ for the animal.
‘There does not appear to be any neglect on the part of the owner,’ Sheriff Tobe Leazenby said.
Owning exotic animals in Indiana is legal.
Some animals require owners to have a permit but zebras are not on that list.
The family in question has another zebra, which survived the cold, and a kangaroos that were being kept indoors.
The family was reported to police for animal cruelty but, after a veterinarian ruled that the zebra died by inhaling the air, they were cleared of any wrongdoing.
Outraged local residents are now demanding to know why they are keeping exotic animals on the property in the first place much less why they were outside when temperatures were so low.
The zebra is one of two kept on the property where there are also kangaroos. The owners, who have not been named, have not been hit with any charges