SAN SIMEON, Calif. – A zebra out of a herd that roams the ranch around Hearst Castle was found dead and partially skinned on a beach on California’s central coast, authorities said.
The zebra died of natural causes and no crime is suspected, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department said. The officials gave no explanation for the skin.
The zebras were probably washed down Pico Creek of Hearst Ranch to a rocky part of the beach where it was found Saturday, Sheriff’s Sgt. Nate Paul told the Tribune newspaper and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Powerful storms in the area over the last week may already be behind the death, said Paul.
“Everything was swollen and very, very quickly, that the storm would absolutely explain how this zebra died and / or washed,” Paul told the Chronicle.
The zebras are the private property of the ranch, who can decide whether to launch an investigation and has chosen not to, Paul said to the Tribune.
More than 100 zebras roam through the ranch area. They are descendants of zebras brought to the San Simeon estate of William Randolph Hearst in 1923 as part of the publishing tycoon zoo, which is also the African antelope, camels, llamas, and kangaroos.
The zebras are the only remnant of the more exotic animals in Hearst’s collection.
In 2011, neighboring farmers were shot three of the zebras, as they say, were threatening their horses and cattle.