Escaped zebra charges Wimauma homeowner

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Courtesy Mark Ross

An escaped zebra wreaked havoc on a Balm neighborhood Friday - startling several homeowners, escaping deputies, and injuring a driver after running into a vehicle. 

And it appears this isn't the first time a zebra has escaped from this same owner, whose family runs a traveling circus.

The first reports of zebra spottings came just after noon from Wimauma homeowner Mark Ross. Ross says he was letting his dogs out into his backyard when he was confronted with a blur of black and white stripes. 

Ross told FOX 13 the zebra was grazing behind his RV, but when he and the dogs came outside, the zebra darted toward him and almost ran him over.  He recorded a video showing the zebra galloping through several yards.

"How many times do you go out in your backyard and see a zebra?" Mark asked with a laugh."Once I realized that this horse has lots of stripes I first had to check myself make sure I wasn't hallucinating or something like this, and I'm like, 'There is a zebra in my backyard."

Not often. 

Ross said deputies were on the scene within minutes. Several people tried to help block the zebra into Ross' eight-house neighborhood, but it managed to escape. 

Shortly after, the zebra was spotted trotting along the south side of 672 near Amber Sweet Lane. The driver of a Ford F150 said the zebra ran into the driver's side of their truck, shattering the side mirror glass and sending shards flying.

That's when Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office aviation was called in. They spotted the zebra and helped deputies on the ground corral and detain the wild animal. HCSO said employees of the zebra's owner, Jennifer Caudill, also came to the scene to help. 

The driver of the pickup went to Brandon Hospital to be checked out. The zebra was returned to its owner and was not injured. 

Meanwhile, Caudill and her family run a circus. In November 2015 - while performing with the UniverSoul Circus - two of Caudill’s zebras escaped into the streets of Philadelphia.

The zebras haven't changed their stripes, stealing the spotlight yet again inside and outside the tent.