Zebra remains on the loose in Washington state as officials close trailheads to keep people away

SEATTLE (AP) — A zebra that escaped from a trailer east of Seattle last weekend remained on the lam Friday, as authorities closed off trailheads at a nature area in hopes of keeping people away and easing her capture.

The zebra was one of four that escaped as they were being transported from Washington to Montana last Sunday. The driver had taken the Interstate 90 exit for North Bend, in the Cascade mountain foothills about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Seattle, to secure the trailer, when the zebras got loose, surprising residents and drivers as they galloped into a rural neighborhood.

Three were quickly captured after being corralled in a pasture. But the fourth — a mare called “Z” — hopped a fence and has proved more elusive, spawning popular social media memes that have placed the animal everywhere from riding a ferry across Puget Sound to rounding the bases at T-Mobile Park, home of the Seattle Mariners.

There have been several more realistic sightings, most recently on Thursday, according to Regional Animal Services of King County.

On Friday, King County officials closed off trail access points along the Snoqualmie Valley Trail in the Boxley Creek Natural Area, where the zebra seems to be frequenting. People trying to come out to see the zebra may be spooking it and making it harder to recapture the animal, they said.

“We're hoping that by closing the trail and getting people out of that area, maybe that will help us do a successful capture,” said animal services spokesman Cameron Satterfield.

Owner Kristine Keltgen previously told The Seattle Times she bought the zebras in Lewis County, Washington, and was bringing them to a petting zoo she runs near Anaconda, in southwestern Montana. She had been on the road for about two hours when she noticed one of the trailer's floor mats was flapping and dragging behind her. When she opened the door to adjust the mat, the zebras ran out.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘Keep them away from the interstate,’” Keltgen said. “Then my next thought was, ‘I need help.’”

Several people stopped to help corral the animals, including a rodeo clown and horse trainers.

Keltgen told The Associated Press on Friday she's not giving any further interviews “until we find her.”

The zebra has been seen grazing and has been spotted on residents' trail cameras. There are dangers: The cameras have also recently captured cougars in the area.

On her Facebook page, King County Council Member Sarah Perry urged people to keep their distance.

“She is in an area where there are feeding zones to coax her out for a rescue, but every time a well-intended walker, bicycle or unleashed ‘search dog’ comes near her it makes rescuing her so much more difficult,” Perry wrote Thursday. “She is in good hands, and a rescue seems imminent, as long as we work together to give them room to achieve our goal.”