OELWEIN — Buchanan County sheriff’s deputies are investigating the latest in a string of shootings that have claimed animals at a rural Oelwein farmstead.
Mike Henninger’s property at 1948 100th St. — at Buchanan County’s northern rim, just inside the county line — is the home to zebras, alpacas, a watusi and even a camel. In the past 14 months, gunfire had killed three zebras — Tazz, Zoey and Razzle — and a horse, Dreamy.
Then around 1:15 p.m. Sunday, sheriff’s deputies were called to the farm and found Zena, an 8-year-old female zebra, dead.
“That’s the fourth zebra,” said Henninger, who himself was shot in the leg while working in his backyard in October.
Zena’s remains have been sent to Iowa State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Ames for a full examination and to determine the cause of death, according to the sheriff’s office.
Henninger suspects authorities will find a gunshot wound.
No arrests have been made in any of the past shootings, but court records show the investigation into a zebra shooting in the fall of 2017 resulted in misdemeanor charges against a Dysart man who allegedly threatened Henninger through text messages and videos. The man pleaded guilty to harassment in October and was sentenced to 10 days in jail with credit for time served and a year of probation, court records show.
Henninger once raised deer at his farm but turned to zebras about four years ago.
“I just like them. They are unique. … We get kids out here all the time,” Henninger said.
The camel arrived a week ago. Henninger also is in the process of building a pond for fishing.
Tazz was the first zebra to die from gunfire. He was found dead Oct. 31, 2017 — Henninger’s birthday. Dreamy, a 5-year-old pregnant mare, was shot in the head in August and lived for four days before succumbing to her injuries.
In September, Zoey appeared to be weak and losing weight and eventually died. Henninger said he sold her remains to a taxidermist who found a bullet in the hide.
Razzle was found dead from a gunshot wound Oct. 13, and on Oct. 28 a bullet hit Henninger in the leg while he was tending to a burn pile around 3:30 p.m.
“I didn’t hear the gunshot but looked down at my leg, and it was bleeding bad,” Henninger said. He was flown to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. He said he continues to go to physical therapy for the wound.
Henninger said there aren’t any formal ranges in the area, but he occasionally hears gunshots, which isn’t unusual for rural Iowa.
“You’ll hear it the next mile over,” he said, but he finds it suspicious bullets have found their way to his property to do damage on six different occasions in just over a year.