Skagit County couple wrangles elusive animal

Anyone can search online to learn how to do almost anything, but there may not have been a “How to Catch a Zebra” video posted. And so far.

“In our experience, it’s better if you can bring the animals to you, right?” David Danton said.

Danton, a former rodeo bullfighter turned dog trainer and home builder, now has a series of videos on his phone that he joked could now be Zebra hunting tutorial.

“We know how to read animals,” said Julie Danton, David’s wife.

She is a horse trainer, and together this couple has returned quite a few stray animals to their owners.

“We were there, and we had cows in the street,” David Danton said.

This time, they enlisted some friends to help them lure the missing zebra into captivity and reunite it with its owner.

Sugar had been roaming the hills and grasslands of North Bend for about a week, after she and three other zebras broke free while crossing the state. Three of the zebras were quickly captured, however Sugar was an exceptionally good jumper, and he jumped across the pasture to freedom.

Days later, its owner called David Danton asking for his help.

He recorded most of his work on his cell phone. In one of the videos, he appears walking slowly towards Sugar, trying to convince her towards him.

See also | The Internet is gaining its stripes: Jokes and memes spotted online about the disappearance of a WA zebra

Danton said he located her after making a series of phone calls, tracking down Sugar’s most recent sightings.

This led him not directly to the zebra, but to a horse named Razzle Dazzle.

“This zebra seems to have found an affection for Razzle Dazzle,” Danton said.

“I’m sure she was very lonely there, which is why she found a friend right away,” Julie Danton added.

“They are herd animals and they are without a herd,” David Danton said.

Danton said he went to Razzle Dazzle’s house and asked the owners if he could go to their property to find Sugar. After getting permission, he told KOMO News he was standing there looking around when she suddenly appeared.

“Sugar’s ears, eyes and nose were sticking out, and she was looking at us straight down the hill, so all we could see was her looking at us,” he said. “This is so amazing. This zebra appears at the right time!”

Now that they knew where Sugar was, they just needed one more temptation.

Again, in the video that Danton took on his phone, you can see Sugar about 20 yards away from him when you hear him say, “Good girl… good girl… I’ve been looking for you.”

At the same time, she hears him shaking a bucket of oats and crumpling a bread wrapper, trying to get Sugar’s attention.

“Come on, Shug,” he said. “Come on, Shug.”

The crinkling bread wrapper held the dessert that the sugar lady had told him was her favorite: white bread.

“Who knows?” He said, shrugging his shoulders.

Danton kept throwing slices of white bread as he followed him to a fenced pasture.

Once he was through the gate, he walked slowly around a tree, and back towards the open gate to close it while she grazed the white bread and oats he had left for her.

“She had absolutely no idea she was about to be in that pasture and couldn’t get out once the gate was closed,” Danton said.

“We’ve had!” Julie Danton added.

However, this was far from the end. David, Julie and their team of volunteers, including North Bend Mayor Mary Miller, spent several hours slowly and silently moving paddocks to make Sugar’s barn smaller and smaller, without her really noticing.

By the time they created a funnel to direct it directly into the trailer, it was dark.

So, are you going into the trailer willingly or not? Without any persuasion, I did.

“We had no idea it would be this simple and easy,” David Danton said. “It was great!

David and Julie told KOMO News they kept Sugar safe through the night, with plenty of water and feed, then got up before sunrise to hit the road and head east across Washington to reunite with her family.

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