Stray zebras from Goebbert's Pumpkin Patch cause two-hour chase near Pingree Grove
People in Pingree Grove late Sunday afternoon weren't hallucinating.
There really were two zebras on Route 47.
And getting them back to their home in a zoo at the Goebbert's Pumpkin Patch and Apple Orchard in Pingree Grove took some doing.
"It was pretty exciting for a while," Jacob Goebbert, an employee of the farm, said of the effort to catch the animals. "It was all hands on deck."
Kane County sheriff's deputies were dispatched at 5:21 p.m. to Route 47 and Reinking Road for a report of zebras in the roadway.
The animals -- a young male and female -- had mysteriously escaped from a pen inside an indoor zoo at the pumpkin farm, according to Goebbert. They then snuck out the rear doors of the building.
Those doors are normally locked, he said. Goebbert's doesn't own the animals, which are supplied by another business.
Customers near the zoo noticed the zebras were loose and notified workers, Goebbert said.
The zebras crossed Route 47 several times and wandered north, through farm fields, to Big Timber Road.
A passenger in a car filmed the animals running into a field and posted the video on TikTok. "They look like zebras. They got stripes (pause). They are!" the driver exclaims.
Illinois State Police were called, due to the chase being near I-90. Hampshire and Pingree Grove police also joined in the chase.
"We're used to (loose) cows, horses, all kinds of livestock. We've had emus -- emus! -- over the years, because there is an emu farm up that way," Undersheriff Pat Gengler said. But zebras were a first. "How do we catch zebras? They didn't teach us that at the (police) academy."
Gengler said police were concerned a car would hit the zebras or that there would be accidents from people gawking at them. Police blocked traffic several times in the area.
With dusk falling, they were also worried they wouldn't be able to see the zebras among the cornstalks in some of the fields, Gengler said.
Goebbert's and zoo workers tracked the animals on ATVs until one was caught alongside Big Timber, and another was corralled in a fenced-in pasture off Sandwald Road. It took almost two hours to catch them.
"We're grateful for all the help," Goebbert said. He said the zebras were not injured. The farm is still investigating how they got out.
"Luckily, it turned out to be OK," Gengler said.