Bike Rider meets Zebra on Camino Cielo at the top of the Santa Ynez Range | Local News

Wildlife encounters in the mountains above Santa Barbara are not uncommon.

Spend enough time and you’ll eventually see a coyote or bobcat, a rattlesnake, maybe even a mountain lion or a bear.

We certainly do not expect to see a zebra.

But that’s what Marcos Chavez encountered on a recent bike ride.

“The zebra started running towards me,” Chavez said. “It looked like air was coming out of his nostrils.”

Chavez took video of the zebra, in the middle of the road on West Camino Cielo, around 2 p.m. Sunday

The day started like most Sundays for Chavez, a resident of Carpinteria. He started his bike ride at Handlebar and headed out on what would become a 4 hour hike.

He biked up Route 101, Refugio Canyon, then east along West Camino Cielo to Route 154. Just past Lizard’s Mouth and the nearby shooting range, he came across the Striped Beast.

Chavez immediately became concerned. Although there were cars stopped on the road, their occupants were at least protected by metal.

Chavez was exposed on his bike.

“As soon as I rolled, the zebra, he saw me,” Chavez told Noozhawk. “He heard me and he saw me, and he kept looking at me.”

A person in one of the cars approached him and offered to turn his vehicle around to protect Chavez from the zebra. Chavez feared that if he rode his bike past the zebra, the animal would chase him away.

“I wasn’t protected in a car like everyone else,” Chavez said.

The 48-year-old small business owner said his daughter volunteers at a donkey farm and he knows zebra donkeys can be aggressive.

Chavez went, but the zebra found a way to chase him, and the animal did.

“I jumped on my bike and started pedaling really fast,” Chavez said. “He took three steps, but the zebra slipped and fell.”

Chavez fled and lived to tell his story.

We don’t know what happened to the zebra. Some locals said the zebra’s name was “Maynard” and that he lived on a local ranch.

Santa Barbara County Animal Control did not return calls from Noozhawk on Monday. Chavez suspects the zebra escaped from a nearby property.

This isn’t the first sighting of zebras in the Santa Barbara hills. In a post from nine years ago on Reddit, someone reported seeing a zebra on West Camino Cielo, and there have been many more reports in recent weeks.

Chavez won’t forget the first thought that came to mind when he rolled over the animal.

“I was like ‘what’s a zebra doing here? ‘” Chavez said.

– Noozhawk writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Earnest L. Veasey