KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A zebra died after running into a containment fence on Saturday, according to Zoo Knoxville.

Zoo Knoxville announced the death of Lydia, a 7-year-old Hartmann’s zebra.

According to Zoo Knoxville, first responders were called about a medical emergency for an employee and needed ambulance access to the guest pathway in front of the zebra habitat. The zoo’s staff requested that the ambulance come through the pathway without any sirens to the restaurant where the employee was located.

“Although the zebra are acclimated to truck and car traffic on the service road behind their habitat, they are not accustomed to traffic in that area,” Zoo Knoxville said in the news release.

Lydia Zebra
Lydia Zebra. (Courtesy of Zoo Knoxville)

Then the zebras were reportedly “reactive to the ambulance and [the staff] immediately began intervention to move them from the area of the habitat in proximity to the first responders.” The zebras were calm and an assessment was made for them to remain in the habitat, according to the news release.

Zoo Knoxville said about eight minutes passed since the ambulance exited the area and Lydia Zebra “unexpectedly bolted and collided with the containment fence.”

“[The zebras] have a flight response to being startled and [Lydia] took off,” said Lisa New, president and CEO.

The staff began emergency animal protocols by moving the other zebras into a corral so the staff could approach Lydia Zebra.

Despite the response from zoo staff and the veterinarians from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM), Lydia Zebra was pronounced dead at the scene, Zoo Knoxville said. According to a preliminary necropsy, she died due to trauma to the neck.

“Our top priority is the safety of our guests, employees, and animals. We regularly drill for emergencies to be prepared for every conceivable scenario to ensure positive outcomes. Sadly, despite all our efforts yesterday to care for our people and our animals, we had a tragic accident occur,” said New. “While we did everything we could to balance the need for emergency treatment for our employee and keeping our zebra stable in the process, we were still dealing with wild animals that reacted as such. As you can imagine, this is a very difficult situation for everyone and we appreciate the compassion our guests showed us as this unfolded yesterday.”

Lydia Zebra was one of four mountain zebras in the zoo’s herd. She came to the zoo in April 2018.

Zoo Knoxville added that Wiley, 5-year-old female zebra, collided with a corral fence while being prepped for a veterinary procedure.

“Sometimes in these situations, despite your best preparedness, planning and actions you take at the time, sometimes accidents still occur,” said New.