By Jason A. Smith
Area residents are invited to don their running shoes, in memory of an animal that garnered national attention upon his arrival in Henry County.
Noah's Ark Animal Rehabilitation Center and Children's Care Home, 712 LG Griffin Road in Locust Grove, will host its first Zebra Dash Fun Run April 9, at 10 a.m. Registration for the five-kilometer run will begin at 9 a.m.
The event will be held in honor of Evidence, a zebra who lived at the facility for more than a year, until his death on Nov. 20, 2010.
"It's a time for people to take a run through the habitat, in memory of Evidence," said Diane Smith, assistant to Noah's Ark director Jama Hedgecoth. "Walkers are welcome too."
Evidence was about three months old when he arrived at the Ark on April 8, 2008. Smith said Evidence was found injured along Interstate 75 in Butts County, and was brought to the facility to recover.
The zebra was nearly three years old when he died suddenly on Nov. 20, 2010, from a "system-wide infection," Smith told the Henry Daily Herald in December.
"That morning he was fine," she said. "By that afternoon, it was very evident that he was sick."
Smith said the fun run event is scheduled so it would be close to the anniversary of the zebra's arrival at the Ark.
"He touched so many people," Smith said. "When people found out he died, I had people from all over the nation e-mail me, or even call me and leave messages. They said they were crying, because they were so moved by his story, even though they never met him."
The 250-acre shelter also features other wild animals, including a lion, bears, birds and other large felines.
"It's going to be so exciting running alongside the lion, tigers and bears, knowing that Evidence is looking down and cheering us on," said Hedgecoth.
Ark staffers will not be timing runners or giving awards for placement following the run, according to Hedgecoth's son, Charlie, who helps his mother run the facility.
"The run is just for fun, and we're hoping to get at least 200-250 people to participate," he said. "Folks will get a T-shirt and a goody bag -- and a chance to see the animals in the habitat."
Pre-registration for the run is being held online at the Ark's Web site, www.noahs-ark.org. Participants can register in advance for $20, or for $25 the day of the run. Smith said runners will get commemorative T-shirts, following the fund-raiser.
The Ark is also sponsoring a "Zebra Zzzzz" portion of the event, she added.
"You can sleep in, skip the run, send in a donation of $35, and still get the T-shirt," Smith said.
For more details, call Noah's Ark at (770) 957-0888.