Zebra resting at UGA's vet school

Lima, the zebra that broke loose from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus area late Thursday afternoon, is at UGA's College of Veterinary Medicine and is "fine," a spokeswoman for the circus told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday.

The 12-year-old zebra broke loose from a training-and-exercise area and ran through downtown Atlanta in the middle of rush-hour traffic.

His hooves were bloody from running along the pavement. Circus spokeswoman Crystal Drake said several vets examined Lima on Thursday, and he was taken to UGA on Friday for a full, comprehensive exam, she said.

Meanwhile, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has asked for a federal investigation into the handling of Lima.

PETA on Friday morning sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture saying that Ringling Bros. "is in violation of handling regulations ... ."

PETA went further to ask the USDA to "ensure that the zebra who ran loose in Atlanta ... is receiving adequate veterinary care for the cuts he sustained on his hooves and for any other injuries and that the safety of the animals and the public is protected."

"We're in full compliance," Drake told the AJC. She also said the circus welcomes any investigation that the USDA may want to do.

Ringling Bros. has vets that travel with the circus and also has an on-call contact in each city it visits, she said. While those doctors did examine Lima, the circus asked another vet -- Dr. Dennis Schmitt, who is the chair of Veterinary Services and director of research with the animal stewardship department at Ringling Bros. -- to fly in and examine the zebra as well.

The black-and-white striped animal was spotted all over town -- in the parking lot near the Richard B. Russell Federal Building, near Centennial Olympic Park, CNN and on the Downtown Connector. He was finally captured on the interstate near the Grady curve. According to witnesses, he was galloping between lanes of traffic on the Downtown Connector before his capture.

Lima was exercising to prepare for Thursday night's circus performance at Philips Arena when "something spooked him," Drake said. The zebra broke away from his trainers and bumped up against a fence before wiggling through an opening and running off, she said.

PETA, in its letter to the USDA, pointed out earlier concerns the group had about the potential for zebras escaping.

Friday, Drake said they still weren't sure what the noise was that startled the animal.

Ringling Bros. is performing at Philips Arena until Sunday. The show then travels to Raleigh.

Drake said it's unclear whether Lima will travel to Raleigh.

"It's day by day," she told the AJC.