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'They murdered our zebra': Trainers slam German authorities for killing escaped animal

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'They murdered our zebra': Trainers slam German authorities for killing escaped animal
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AFP
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Authorities in Germany have been accused of "murder" by the trainers of two zebras that escaped from a circus after officers decided to shoot one dead.

Safari, 4, and Pumba, 5, both escaped from their stables at the Circus Barlay near Tessin, northeast Germany, on Wednesday morning.

But while Safari was caught a short time later, Pumba disappeared — and went on to cause a traffic accident and "property damage", according to a local police statement.

There were no injuries reported in the crash.

Following several hours of searching and further failed attempts to bring the animal under control — including a damaged patrol car and and a police officer with minor injuries — authorities eventually shot and fatally wounded him.

The statement added: "As a result, the zebra died on the spot."

Pumba's trainers, Angelo Madel and his wife Carla Jenkins, told Euronews they are "devastated" by the outcome, adding that authorities had assured them that the zebra would be tranquilised.

They said that it wasn't until several circus members involved in the search asked how - when the zebra was shot - "he fell asleep so quickly", that they were told that live ammunition had in fact been used.

"Everybody burst into tears," Jenkins told Euronews. "We didn't know they wanted to shoot him. We would have done anything. Really anything to stop that man."

She added: "They murdered our zebra in the countryside despite no danger to humans or other creatures".

"We are devastated. It is such a big loss for our family. He was a really good animal."

Speaking to Die Welt, witness Petra Melchin said: "There was no danger...he was exhausted, his head was down."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the city of Rostock was quoted in local media as saying a tranquiliser could not be used as the zebra had posed a threat.

Euronews has reached out to the local police and fire departments for comment.

Animal rights organisation PETA has also responded to the incident by calling for a ban to using animals in the circus.

"This should never have happened," the group wrote in a later statement on Facebook.