A Maryland couple has started fundraising to profit off of a viral zebra escape and they’ve raised more than $1,000 already by falsely claiming to be a nonprofit.
Theodore McKenzie and Bethany Petrie are caretakers on the Prince George, MD, property that two escaped zebras are living on.
In August, three zebras escaped from a farm next door owned by Jerry Holly. One of the zebras was killed in an illegally placed snare trap. It is unclear whether the trap was placed by the zebras’ owner, Holly, or if the trap may have been placed by the property caretaker, McKenzie.
Two of the zebras have remained loose for nearly three months. Holly has been charged with three counts of animal cruelty related to the incident.
McKenzie has quickly latched on to the zebra escape as a fundraising attempt. He started the “Save The Zebras” Foundation on Facebook and he began a GoFundMe campaign.
“Your donations will provide food, and comfort as we continue our daily care of these unique and special zebras,” according to the fundraiser.
It is unclear why the zebra’s owner would not be responsible for paying for the zebra’s care and recapture efforts. The cost of a bale of hay, which McKenzie posted he’s been feeding the zebras, is approximately $5.
McKenzie and Petrie’s fundraiser for the zebras appears to be fraudulent. Save the Zebras is claiming to be a nonprofit organization but no nonprofit by that name exists, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
McKenzie and Petrie did not respond to questions of what the money they’re raising is being used for. They also did not respond to questions of what the remaining funding would be used for once the zebras are captured. When a Roadside Zoo News representative contacted Save the Zebras to ask what the funding would be used for, they were blocked.
The Save the Zebras' fundraiser has raised $1,237 of a $15,000 goal. The fraudulent fundraiser has been reported to GoFundMe.