Outrage continues over shooting of Hearst Ranch zebras

January 12, 2011

The national media is picking up the local story of the three zebras who wandered off Hearst Ranch on Jan 5, only to be shot and killed by two ranchers. [LA Times]

Two of the three zebras showed up on David Fiscalini’s cattle ranch and he killed them with his shotgun. A third zebra was killed by another rancher.

Fiscalini defended his actions by saying the zebras had spooked his horses.

Fanning the controversy were reports of Fiscalini’s actions the day after the shooting, when he called a local taxidermist out to the ranch and said he needed one of the zebras skinned and its hide tanned. “He wants to make a rug,” said Rosemary Anderson, the taxidermist’s wife. “You can’t believe the controversy.”

The Hearst Corp. still owns the 128-square-mile ranch that surrounds the castle. It was once home to more than 300 animals but most were sold off in the 1930s, said William Randolph Hearst’s great-grandson, Stephen Hearst. But some sheep, deer and 65 zebras continue to graze there, he said.

The zebras, Hearst said, rarely venture beyond the fence, “but from time to time they do, and neighbors give us a call and we retrieve them.”

He said he was shocked that Fiscalini hadn’t called him instead of shooting them.

“Was the threat so imminent that his first thought was to make a rug out of them?” Hearst asked. “It’s just a shame, and it’s a little bit rude in my book. You know, neighbors are supposed to help other neighbors.”

It is not known whether Fiscalini violated any state laws in shooting the zebras.


What is the big deal? There are sixty pet zebras living on a vanity-fueled state park, and one gets turned into a rug (probably a darn fine rug, at that) after jumping the fence. I’m supposed to be pissy because an old-school rancher acted like a remorseless jerk? Neighbor, please.


If the Zebra was damaging my barn, I might not shoot it, if it was damaging my home I would kill it.

If it was disrupting the live stock I probably would not shoot it, if it appears attacking the live stock I would kill it.

For myself I guess the line is drawn on what I see as necessary more than excuse.

I wander why anyone regarding the Zebra being a dangerous menace need killing and gotten rid of, would still want the hide as a trophy (different strokes for different folks) but it makes me tend to think killing was an more opportunity (necessary maybe) merely because the Zebra was on his land and just legal to do for the rug.


In the US and Europe, animals are regarded as property and not a life.

The damages caused by the Zebras is Hearst’s responsibility.

Where I would for sure pull the trigger is IF the creature the Zebra is attacking is a precious pet to the family (dog, pony) here the life and well being of the pet cannot be replace or compensated.

The second possibility is if the Zebra damaged the fence or gate and stamped the herd, to put the main problem out of the way.

If the Zebra did minor damage (leaping over the fence) and just upset the cattle, I probably would not have shot it (again I don’t know the nature of the beast – learning here they can be very dangerous), and expect non-hassle reimburstment from Hearst or the next time I will shoot them.

If the Zebras are that dangerous, how was Hearst able to import so many and allow them to roam in an open contained range like ordinary cattle (uncaged)?

This is new to me.


As more details are known about this incident the more outrages these two very stupid, arrogant, and idiotic ranchers become. It’s obvious that Fiscalini’s story is falling apart and showing his true character of a apparent liar about perceived threats to his livestock and trigger happy nut thinking he is off on some idiotic safari hunt!

Whats more disappointing is the support these too looser’s are getting from some of the ranching community. It’s making me loose respect for the ranching families that I have often admired.

The bottom line; A Stupid Is As A Stupid Does!


At first blush on this, I was against the killing of the Zebra’s but then as we all do as we hear more of a story we form our opinions. Having read Bill Morems colomn this morning, I can see some blame all around. For the tradgedy as a whole I would place more on the Hearst family. On the tradgedy of BAD judgement (tanning hides) I place that on the Fiscalini family.

As for the suggestion of making a zoo with them, read the colomn and you will see these animals are not Bambi folks. Yes they are a very pretty beast but they are that, a beast.

The real looser in this (as it should not have happened in the first place) is the Zebra’s. Maybe the good that might come from this, is that in the future the Hearst Family could be better stewards of the animals, or hire an intermediary company that could be.


“As for the suggestion of making a zoo with them, read the colomn and you will see these animals are not Bambi folks.”

I did not know, thanks, informative.


Yea I was quite shocked to, to find out that you probably would not want to corner one of them. It does make sense that for surviving on the savana of Africa that they had to evolve to survive. Again beautiful animal but it is a wild one at that.


Just thought of something else, these zebras could have caused a serious highway traffic collision and Hearst would likely be liable.

Its difficult to second guess whether the killing was necessary or not on the face of the news.

I tend to thing it was not, I would have done something else (while armed as a precaution) ultimately calling the Sheriffs-Fish and Game if able to.

But again, I do not know the nature of the beast (Zebra) and just second-guessing for discussion.

The article I mentioned earlier about hunting and fishing for sport vs. harvesting food is in The Watch Tower December 1, 2007 Issue, page 31 drawing lots of Biblical references.

It does not sub-topic into killing to protect your property or self

So, some flip-flopping from second-guessing is likely even from me.

Bow and rifle hunter, I carry bear mace to avoid needless killing.


Comments from other ranchers in yesterday’s Trib indicate that the zebras are a recurring problem and that the Hearst Ranch is famous for not doing anything about retrieving the animals or maintaining their umpteen million miles of fence.

I don’t think shooting them was the right thing to do, but I am not sure what other options exist. Clearly Fiscalini had very few courses of action to choose from at a time when (perhaps) seconds mattered.

If its true that the zebras regularly houdini out of the fence, then Hearst Ranch bears a hefty part of the blame for this event.


I wonder what Fiscalini would look like if he was made into a rug?


They were not coyotes, lions or bears (nor tigers, snakes, elephants or gorillas) (Non Predators), even though the cattle were rattled by the strange appearance and the zebras who sought refuge to the closest thing of familiarity, I am not sure I would have shot them, I think I would try to contain and capture and adopt this prize and make it a part of the community social landscape like a zoo (wouldn’t you?).

Different stokes for different folks, they just wanted to kill for the trophy.

Some stuff I got form Jehovah Witness (Makes sense):

The directive of Proverb 12:10, (Other than fishing or hunting for food) Do not kill animals merely for sport or fun with wanton disregard.

I kinda think the killing was unnecessary.


I agree with Willie, these animals ARE NOT preditors & in my opinion, Mr. Fiscalini was a little too fast with the trigger.


What an arrogant action. I wonder how much that “rug” will eventually cost Mr. Fiscalini? Pretty stupid thing to do.