A zebra finds a new home in Machias
Jacob Kerst photo
Monica Doppel, owner of Flying M Ranch, with Norris the Zebra at her ranch in Machias. Doppel has been working with horses since she was seven years old and came upon owning a zebra this past March after joking about it on social media. Norris has adapted well to the ranch.
MACHIAS — At the Flying M Ranch, among the horses is an equine not many see outside of a zoo. His name is Norris, and he’s a zebra.
He’s just one of the guys at Monica Doppel’s ranch in Machias.
The Flying M Ranch and its owner Monica Doppel have been caring for Norris since he was rehomed from a petting zoo in Washington this past March. Norris has adapted quite well since his arrival, making friends with a couple of horses at the ranch where they roam the pasture together.
Doppel said, for the most part, she “treats and feeds him just like any other horse,” and he is “doing really well.”
The ball started rolling for Doppel when she joked about getting a zebra on social media and someone actually contacted her wondering if she was serious. After lots of back and forth, it was decided that the Flying M Ranch would more than likely be a good fit for Norris, in part because it had enough space and social horses to keep him company. Doppel didn’t want to be hasty in taking on Norris so that she could ensure that he would be happy, with all his needs met.
Norris gets plenty of attention from his animal peers as well as Doppel, who described his personality as “not too different from a regular horse.” Besides being a “bit pushy,” Norris is sweet and personable like any other horse.
He seemed to enjoy the attention given by Doppel as well as his horse friends that he shares the pasture with. He is not to be mistaken as a domestic animal, though, as zebras are still wild animals and can have wild tendencies, as their brains are still wired to defend against predators.
“Zebras sound different,” said Doppel, “almost like a pack of wild dogs.”
Norris and the other horses on the ranch are free-choice fed with local grass hay and Idaho Alfalfa cubes called Cubites along with a supplement. This offers Norris and the other horses the opportunity to graze whenever they would like. Doppel said that free feeding in this way not only makes sure that the horses always have access to food during the day, but it also reduces the chance of the horses developing troublesome ulcers.
The public’s reaction to Norris has been quite immense, with many people slowing down their cars while driving by, walking off the Centennial Trail to look, and even school buses slowing down for children to see him.
Doppel said that like with most things, there are critics, but the majority of the public’s response to Norris at the ranch has been positive. It brings Doppel joy that the community is coming together and having fun watching and talking about Norris.
“It has almost become a game now to find the zebra in Lake Stevens,” said Doppel.
Doppel said that if the community has any questions regarding Norris, they should feel free to message the ranch and she will be happy to answer their questions.
Currently, Doppel has no more plans for future exotic pets although if a good fit arose, she wouldn’t be ‘necessarily opposed’ to having another zebra.
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