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Fugitive zebra dies after hours-long chase

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Its bid for freedom was broadcast on national TV and became a sensation on social media, but it ended up in tragedy.

A zebra that escaped by running away from a horse-riding club in Japan led police officers and veterinarians in an hours-long pursuit on a golf course, foiling any capture attempt.

But unable to corral it, veterinarians shot the two-year old animal with tranquilizer darts. Shortly after that, the zebra ran into a pond, where it met a tragic end. The cause of death is unclear, according to The Associated Press, but it likely drowned.

“It collapsed in the pond, so we hurriedly pulled it ashore, but its heart had already stopped beating,” Takahiro Taniguchi, a police spokesman, said, according to Agence France-Press.

“Veterinarians performed cardiac massage,” he added, but were unable to save the animal.

The pursuit took place in the central Japanese prefectures of Aichi, where the animal broke free late on Tuesday, and Gifu, where the chase ended on Wednesday.

Television news footage showed the creature’s last ride and the failed attempts to capture it, while the Japanese word for zebra was trending on Twitter.

The unsuccessful effort to recapture the animal came just a month after a Tokyo zoo staged a zebra escape. In that case, zookeepers chased a colleague dressed as a zebra — and were able to recapture him.

The Ueno Zoo, where last month’s drill took place, said the animals panic easily.

Japan has already had a famous fugitive animal. In 2012 a penguin escaped from a Tokyo aquarium, and it took the authorities almost three months to capture him.

By Pietro Lombardi