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Shea Inman, 18, sits on Joey at Snow Creek Ranch after
Stephanie Klein-Davis / The Roanoke Times / ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY STEPHANIE KLEIN-DAVIS
The Roanoke Times
ROANOKE--This past summer, among the meadow of overgrown dandelions, emerged the bold, black and white stripes and the sweeping, black-tufted tail of a zebra.
The animal, named Joey, was living in Franklin County. He belongs to Shea Inman, 18, who bought him about three years ago from a farm in Texas.
"After seeing the movie 'Racing Stripes,' and the phenomenon of riding a zebra, it absolutely inspired me," Shea, a Franklin County High School graduate, said. "So, I thought to myself, are zebras even possible to own? I looked it up on Google, checked my funds, and it turned out I could afford one. So, I talked to my mother and I convinced her to let me give it a go. So we did."
According to a state veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, zebras are not considered exotic animals. Rather, the state considers them horses, so no special documentation or permit is required to keep them.
The idea also wasn't that unusual for Shea, who was well known in the community for buying, selling and training horses. She was involved with the Franklin County High School equine class and hosted trail-riding events on her farm.
Shea lived with her mother, Carolyn "Bunny" Inman, a certified registered nurse anesthetist, at Snow Creek Ranch before going to Virginia Tech this fall.
When Shea was 10 years old, she moved to Franklin County from Columbus, Ga., with her parents and her youngest sister India. Shea started English riding lessons at age 8 and in the summers, the family would vacation at Southern Cross Ranch in Georgia, "which is like a B&B for riders," said Inman. "Shea started buying rescue horses. She was kind of a horse whisperer. She could bond with horses that would run away from other people.
"She wanted more of a challenge," Inman continued. "After seeing the movie 'Racing Stripes'"--a 2005 film about an abandoned zebra who has a dream of racing with thoroughbreds--"and doing all her research and talking to the people in Texas about their zebras, I agreed we'd get one."