A visiting circus zebra escaped its handlers on Thursday, dashing through Atlanta's streets near rush hour and eventually getting captured after a made-for-TV sprint along the Downtown Connector near the offices of Mother Nature Network.

The zebra, named Lima, belongs to Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Circus spokeswoman Crystal Drake told The Associated Press that the 12-year-old animal suffered cuts on his hooves from his long run. "He obviously was excited, but he was in good shape," Drake told the AP.

"All of a sudden a freaking zebra comes running down the street like a car," Daniel Nance told the Atlanta newspaper. "Five or six police cars were in hot pursuit. And a bunch of officers on foot. But then I got scared, thinking … what else is loose?" said a half-kidding Nance, who saw the animal near Atlanta's main MARTA hub at Five Points Station.

The animal's distinctive black-and-white stripes make it alarmingly easy to spot in an urban setting, but the stripes actually serve as camouflage in its native habitat, the grasslands of Africa.

Twitter was consumed with zebra news early Thursday evening, with most cheering a snippet of upbeat news. Others typically grumbled about traffic. (Said one: "So come to find out that the reason I been sitting in traffic for 90 min is bc a damn zebra escaped from the circus in downtown ATL!")

Drake told the AP that the fleet-of-foot zebra would probably perform as scheduled at Thursday night's performance at Philips Arena, where the Hawks and Thrashers also perform.

Sarah Hicks Sarah Hicks is a journalist who has been with Mother Nature Network since 2008. As managing editor, she guides the editorial team’s coverage of a wide range of environmental topics, from pets to science to endangered species.

Zebra escapes in downtown Atlanta
Circus animal gets away from handlers, causes a stir during rush hour.