This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
Warning: The following contains images that some people may find disturbing.
Five times since last October, Mike Henninger would walk around Hevans Safari, his homemade petting zoo, and find one of his zebras either dead or suffering. Some survived for a few days before succumbing to their injuries and others were dead when he found them—all of them were shot by an unknown sniper.
Then in late October, almost an exact year after he found the lifeless body of Tazz (the first of his zebras to be shot), Henninger himself took a bullet.
The zebra murders didn’t stop with Henninger getting shot.
This week the slaughter resumed when, on December 8, Henninger found his eight-year-old zebra, Zena, dead in her stable. In total five of his animals have died from gunshot wounds.
The timeline for the homemade petting zoo-turned-shooting range goes thusly:
Tazz the zebra was killed in October 2017, then Dreamy the horse was killed in August 2018, Zoey the Zebra was gunned down in September, followed by Razzle the zebra in October, and finally Zena this week (Zena is still being examined and her cause of death has not yet been released). Henninger says he took a bullet in the leg in October.
“Mike was burning some brush on Sunday, October 28, 2018, behind our rural home when he was shot,” reads a GoFundMe campaign for Henninger. “Mike lost a lot of blood but somehow managed to call 911. He was transported by ambulance to Oelwein hospital and then airlifted to Iowa City where he underwent a seven-hour surgery to repair the damage to his leg.”
Police have said they’re investigating. The GoFundMe states that he received almost 30 stitches as a result and has to routinely do therapy so he can walk. Speaking to ABC affiliate KCGR, Henninger said that he doesn’t think that the person behind the deaths of his animals will stop until they’re all dead—Hevans Safari at one time had seven zebras but now only has three.
"I don't understand what the point is other than hurting me," he told the outlet.
Henninger says that he thinks he knows who is behind the shooting as there has been a person harassing him nonstop for over a year now. In total he says, there have been almost 3,000 threatening messages. In speaking to Iowa's Fox 28, Henninger said the man “sent videos of shooting a stuffed zebra on a fence and then grilling them on a grill and being real sadistic about it.” In a Facebook post, Henninger (who has made the texter’s contact “dickhead”) shows some of them off.
“Fuck that gay zebra,” reads one. “One at a time and very slowly, mathodicly place torcher [sic] make them cry out in pain,” reads another.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports that while no one has been arrested for the latest zebra shootings—the investigation is still ongoing. Last year police arrested a man in connection to the first zebra's death, who plead guilty to harassment. The man served ten days in prison.
Police are not commenting on the investigation but Henninger says that they have one suspect. Henninger isn’t letting these deaths stop him from his dream of Hevans Safari being a top-notch petting zoo in rural Iowa and has since shored up the loss of zebras with the acquisition of a camel and two alpacas.
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