News & Politics

Could You Own a Zebra in DC?

With five Maryland zebras on the loose, we wanted to find out if the same problem could happen in the District.

Five zebras have been on the loose in Maryland for almost a month. The zebras were legally owned, which got us thinking: Could we keep a zebra in DC? Here’s what we found about the zebras and other animals after looking through DC code.


Absolutely. Though, DC code says that your dog can’t “disturb the quite of any neighborhood or any person,” so if your neighbor’s yappy chihuahua is ruining your beauty sleep, you might have a case on your hands


Sorry, but your cottagecore chicken coop fantasies will likely have to wait. Fowl ownership isn’t permitted in DC unless granted a permit by the Department of Human Services. In order to obtain such a permit, the coop would have to be 250 feet from any property line, or the owner would have to obtain written consent from all neighbors.


If you’re going to apply for a pigeon permit, you better get friendly with the neighborhood. Those seeking to obtain a license need 51 percent of the householders in a 100 foot radius to agree to sign pro-pigeon.


Breathe easy apiphobes: No bees or hives can be kept where there are human habitations within a radius of 500 feet.

Wild Animals

Not unless the Mayor herself OKs it. That includes zebras.

Herd Animals

If you’re going to have a cattle/swine/sheep drive, you’re going to have to do it between the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM, and you definitely can’t do it on city streets. One cow on a rope or a cow and calf on a rope areĀ DC street friendly, though. Goats and sheep can be temporarily imported into the District for the purpose of eating grass, milking and shearing demonstrations, petting zoos, and participating in yoga.

Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.