SEYMOUR, Tenn. — Over the past couple weeks, there have been four reports of a zebra on a private farm in Seymour biting individuals, according to the Blount County Sheriff's Office.
Two females were reportedly bitten Tuesday and went to the hospital, the sheriff's office said, but it was not known immediately if the third person received medical treatment.
On Friday, the sheriff's office released information on the victims stating there have been four people who reported being bitten by the zebra. Investigators received a call from Blount Memorial Hospital about a 26-year-old male who was bitten on June 21. The man was treated for a bite on his hand.
A 23-year-old woman was reportedly bitten on July 2, according to Blount County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Marian O'Briant. She was treated for a bite to her upper arm at Blount Memorial Hospital and the other had a bite to her back.
The same day, a 22-year-old woman reported she was bitten on her back, according to the sheriff's office.10News spoke with her Thursday and she said she thought, "this is how I'm going to die."
Another 22-year-old woman reported she was bitten in her right bicep the next day and was taken to Blount Memorial Hospital, the sheriff's office said. A total of four victims have reported bites by the same zebra.
Michaela Napier, 22, said she and her friend, her boyfriend and her boyfriend's daughter were going to go look at the zebra off at Brookhaven Animal Farm on I.C. King Road on Tuesday.
"I've seen a lot of people go and pet the zebra and feed the animals and take pictures with them," Napier said.
The zebra and other animals are behind a fence on private property that's not open to the public.
When they arrived, she said there was another family there.
She said at first she pet the zebra and said it nipped at her, so she stopped.
About 30 minutes later, she said held her boyfriend's daughter to pose for a picture she said about five feet away from the fence.
"I probably left a space about this big between me and the zebra, and I had got in position and was smiling for the picture and I just felt, can't really describe it, but almost being, just a huge impact on my back, and it latched on to me," Napier said.
She said she remembers leaving the ground.
"And it picked me up and slammed me down, and picked me up and slammed me down, and picked me up and slammed me down," Napier said.
She said she couldn't believe it.
"And the only thing that I could think of was this is how I am going to die, I really thought it was going to kill me," Napier said.
She said her friend punched the zebra in the snout area and that's how it stopped. They called 911.
Napier said she spent seven hours at UT Medical Center. She didn't get stitches, but she got a tetanus shot and antibiotics. She has to wear gauze and keep a close eye on the wound.
She said when she returned to the farm on Wednesday, a new sign had been put up saying to not feed or pet the animals. She said when she was first there she noticed a barn rules sign and a surveillance camera sign.
Napier thinks it could have been worse.
"I thank God it was me, not that little girl," Napier said. "It would have jerked her over, she's 30 pounds, I'm 130."
The owner of the zebra could not be reached for comment Thursday.
"It is my understanding that those bites will be reported to the county health department by the physician/hospital that treated them," O'Briant said. "We have an open case regarding the zebra bites, and there is an investigator assigned to it."
O'Briant said they don't know of any local or state laws regarding privately owned exotic animals.
According to National Geographic, Zebra can be aggressive animals.
"Stallions fight for females with piercing bites and powerful kicks that are strong enough to cause serious damage – and sometimes even kill!"
Again, this happened at a private farm that isn't open to the public but you may be wondering how Zoo Knoxville keeps its Zebra, and other animals, from biting visitors.
"Our staff actually works with our zebra in protected contact for safety, which means we don’t share the same space with them," Zoo Knoxville spokeswoman Tina Rolen said. "Anything with a mouth can bite you, and animals will use that as a defense if anything gets too close for their comfort. And zebra are not domesticated animals, either. As a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), we keep a minimum distance of 5 feet with two barriers between guests and zebra. The safety of our guests is our number one priority."