Call it the Sarah Palin effect.
A family of zebras (a buck, a mare and a yearling) wandered from William Randolph Hearst's famed Hearst Castle—where he had started what was once the world's largest private zoo—and onto a nearby ranch in San Simeon, California.
The property's owner, David Fiscalini, immediately shot two of the zebras, claiming they "spooked" his horses. Later, another rancher close to Fiscalini's spread shot the third zebra, which had wandered over to his property.
Fiscalini did not call the Hearst Ranch before—or after—the shooting.
Instead, here's who he did call:
The local taxidermist, because, according the Los Angeles Times, "he needed someone to skin the zebra and tan the hide so he could make a rug."
The taxidermist's wife, Rosemary Anderson, confirmed this request to the Times.
Sorry, but, does anyone else see a parallel between Sarah Palin's massively distributed Target Moose message and Fiscalini's knee-jerk response to quickly slaughter a harmless animal? We sure do.
In case you didn't know, zebras are herbivores who aren't threatening (unless threatened) and love to eat grass and plants.
"It's pretty disappointing," said Stephen Hearst, Vice President of Properties Division for the Hearst Corporation.
Stephen's also the great grandson of William Randolph, who built his famed Castle in the 1930s and stocked it with not only an exotic array of animals, but, also an even more impressive collection of Hollywood visitors.
"And [Fiscalini] hasn't called."
Besides the careless disregard for the zebra's well-being—which Stephen said would surely cause "outrage" for William Randolph—at issue is who do the dead zebras belong to?
"They belong to us," Stephen claimed, emphatically.
So, according to Hearst, Fiscalini doesn't even have the right to be making rugs out of their animals.
Fiscalini has not returned calls.
So will Hearst pursue getting in touch with Fiscalini to further decide the matter?
"I haven't called him," Hearst answered, "and if I don't hear anything from him, I may instruct my ranch foreman to call."
Hearst also explained he's often gotten calls from other Hearst Ranch neighbors when animals have wandered away, but, that it's never been a problem:
"Most of the neighbors love it. They love looking at the zebras. They don't shoot them."
Perhaps presidential hopeful Palin, who brands her gun about as proudly as her big hair, is beginning a new era of shoot first, ask questions maybe later.
That's certainly what happened with this tragedy.