Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Northern Ireland pensioner wants to sell his zebra

Hugh Simpson feeds his pet Zebra Verry. Picture: Colm O'Reilly/ Pacemaker Press

A Northern Ireland pensioner is selling his four-year-old pet zebra because he can no longer afford to keep him.

Hugh Simpson, from Comber, Co Down, is hoping he'll be able to find a new home for four-year-old Verry in the Republic because the animal is costing him too much.



Anyone who owns an exotic pet north of the Border must be in possession of a costly licence, a restriction which doesn't apply in the south.



Mr Simpson has already placed an ad on website 'donedeal.ie' and says there has been a bit of interest in the four-year-old gelding. He's asking £3,500, or just over €4,000.



"I bought him from a man in England about 18 months ago but I think he came from Holland before that," he said.



"He's costing me a lot of money to keep and this is really why I have to sell him."



However, an animal expert at Dublin Zoo has warned that zebras can be quite vicious and are in no way suitable as pets. The ISPCA has also expressed concerns about the zebra's welfare.



Team leader of the African Plains at Dublin Zoo, Helen Clarke-Bennett warned that despite their looks, zebras were "extremely aggressive".



"Zebras can be quite vicious and it's like dealing with a stallion, even if it's gelded."



The zoo will not buy the zebra as they do not deal with independent animal traders. Both Dublin Zoo and the ISPCA have stressed the need for species compatibility.



"Animals need to be kept in twos and although the zebra has a pony's company now which at least is something, they really need to be with their own kind," said ISPCA chairman Barbara Bent.



The Department of Agriculture in the Republic said zebras were classified at 'equidea' -- members of the horse family -- and could be imported from Northern Ireland once they have a passport.



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