Summer 2008: Of Note

The zebra on the steps of Seney Hall

Barcode the zebra is led out of Seney Hall to safety.

Courtesy Oxford College

Oxford’s Zany Zebra Caper

What’s black and white and read all over? The story of Barcode the zebra in Seney Hall

Article tools

Print Icon Print

By Mary J. Loftus

When Oxford faculty and staff arrived at work at Seney Hall on the morning of Wednesday, April 23, they found hall doors barricaded, the elevator out of order—and a zebra on the third floor, munching on a course catalog.

The latest in a long history of animal pranks at Emory’s original campus, the zebra incident evoked varied reactions, widespread media attention, and a T-shirt fund-raiser to pay for repairs.

While the perpetrators have not been identified, an anonymous email was sent to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution claiming responsibility. Using the moniker “John Emory,” the writer said he had taken the zebra from a nearby farm, walking it about a mile to the college and leaving it in the care of “cohorts” as he met another accomplice who had slept in the historic administration building. They placed chairs and tables by the upper-level windows so the zebra would not go near them, he wrote, then used the elevator to transport the animal to the third floor.

Seney Hall, constructed in 1881, was shut down for several hours while animal control was called in to safely remove the animal—a ten-year-old, 800-pound zebra named Barcode. Curtis Jackson, Barcode’s owner, called the stunt fool-hardy. “I can’t believe they led him that far and he didn’t get hurt,” he told the AJC. “It’s not like taking a goat over there.”

Students in zebra t-shirts with Dean Bowen

Wild at heart: Oxford students (with Dean Stephen Bowen, center) raised money for repairs by selling T-shirts.

Courtesy Oxford College

Dean of Campus Life Joseph Moon received a note under his office door the following week containing a letter and several hundred dollars in cash. The note read in part, “We, the architects of the recent zebra prank in Seney Hall, wanted to express to you and our Oxford community our views. . . . We are unabashed lovers of Oxford College—its community, academics, life. Though we are serious about our studies, we embrace the wonderful, playful spirit that pervades this campus. It was with this spirit in mind, and a friendly wink to the old traditions which breathe life into our college, that we acted.”

Oxford students Adnan Rashid 08Ox and Katie Larson 08Ox sold T-shirts to commemorate the event, which happened just a few weeks before graduation. They donated $2,150 in profits to the college to cover clean-up and repairs.The zebra incident received coverage in some 250 newspapers and TV newscasts, not to mention YouTube. Oxford Dean Stephen Bowen said the prank followed a mischievous tradition of placing farm animals in Seney Hall; the last time—in the 1960s—it was a cow.

“I am sure this one will go down in the annals of Oxford as the apex of animal elevation in Seney Hall,” Bowen wrote in a message to students. “Those responsible were lucky that the animal was not injured and that damage was minimal. No one should count on being that lucky in the future.”

Back to top

Summer 2008

Of Note