Emory University Zebra Prank

Neil Steinberg's classic advice about college pranks was that "If at all possible, involve a cow." The zebra (named Barcode) that was found locked inside Seney Hall at Georgia's Emory University this morning is a novel substitute. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Campus police were still trying to find out who put the zebra on the third floor of Seney Hall sometime Tuesday night...
Putting animals inside Seney Hall has passed for a dry wit on the Emory at Oxford campus for decades...
Bowen said it was unlikely the responsible party would be punished. "We're not launching a major manhunt" he joked. And whoever put Barcode in the building made sure it didn't get hurt. "They lined up a row of chairs so the animal couldn't get close to the windows and injure itself," Bowen said.

Good for the pranksters for making sure the zebra wasn't harmed in any way.

I found out about the prank because I received an email this afternoon from the pranksters themselves. Or someone claiming to be the pranksters. Here's what they had to say. I didn't correct for spelling:

So i was looking at your top 10 college pranks and i think that you are missing one.. last night some friends and i locked a Zebra in a building at Emory University. here are the details.

I was deeply disappointed when i read what the press had wrote about the Zebra incident at the Oxford College of Emory University. Quite frankly everyone has it wrong. I know, because i organized it and the executed the prank with a group of friends and lookouts.

First of all, the prank had no intentions other than to raise a certain spirit in the Oxford College community. The was no malice what-so-ever.

To the detail that you can varify that I am , in fact , the one whom the credit is due. -I cut a chain around a gate that contained the Zebra that was accompanied by only a donkey. This "pasture" is off of Collingsworth drive after the dead end. - then i unhinged the second gate with a wrench because that chain was too thick to cut. - I then proceeded to transport the Zebra on foot down Collingsworth to Wesley street and then down a power-cut that leads behind the college off in the woods. At approximately 0455hrs I left the Zebra in the care of my cohorts as i met another accomplice that had slept in Seney hall in order to let me in from the inside. We prepared the 3rd floor by placing chairs and tables by the windows so that the Donkey would not be tempted to go near them. We also moved picture frames so that they would not be hurt. Lastly we barricaded the doors using 2"x2"x4' board that extended over the door frame and then were secured to the door with duct tape, zip-ties, and 11/2 inch U-bolts. Once the buildings was prepared we then moved the donkey through the front doors of Seney to the elevator to the 3rd floor. We then unloaded the donkey and took the elevator back down to the first floor. (now this is a good part) we sent the elevator back up to the second floor (which was also barricaded from the inside) with a Chair, books, and a small shelf leaning against the doors of the elevator so that when they opened on the second floor, the chair would fall prohibiting the doors of the elevator to close for use. As a back up we removed the elevator call key panel from the 1st floor lobby and Removed, NOT Cut, wires from the back of the button. The most damage this may have caused is a blown fuse. All in all I believe that once people see the brilliance behind this prank and get off their high-horse they may be able to see that college is about relationships and memories, not a grade on a test or your attendance record. - Seney hall was discovered to be locked down at approx 0735 and it took until 1115hrs to remove the Zebra. - Ultimately this was a HARMLESS prank, NOT vandalism. - and when all is said and done, it may have been one of the greatest pranks ever pulled off in history of American academia... A zebra was barricaded into the most historic building of one of the highest ranked universities in America... thats awesome!!

Regards, The Emory Pranksters

Animals Pranks

Posted on Wed Apr 23, 2008


" college is about relationships and memories, not a grade on a test or your attendance record"

Wow, I fail idiots like you every year. Want to screw around and get drunk for four years? There are many cheaper ways of doing it than going to college. You brag about how well-regarded your school is, and then dismiss the very thing that makes it prestigious with your adolescent smugness. Don't ever take one of my classes; you won't enjoy it. I foolishly expect students to study.
Posted by edward  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  12:12 AM
With spelling and grammar like that, the individual is at university? I'd regard it as animal abuse because the zebra was abducted from an enclosure and likely to be stressed by the incident. Pranks are pranks, but they involve animal abuse and vandalism (cutting a bolt is vandalism and unlawful entry) they are far from harmless.

The university seriously needs to deter such pranks.
Posted by Sarah  in  England  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  03:38 AM
it may have been one of the greatest pranks ever pulled off in history of American academia

High praise indeed, especially coming from one of the perpetrators of the prank!
Posted by outeast  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  04:49 AM
A zebra in a hall is not 'one of the greatest pranks ever pulled off in history of American academia'. The Rosebowl gag is a great prank. This is just a mildly amusing oddity.
Posted by Nona  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  05:22 AM
Why does he keep using "donkey"? That seems weird.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  08:01 AM
Posted by sherry jackson  in  oxford, ga  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  08:37 AM
The owner, Sherry Jackson, is right to be infuriated by the actions of these clowns, but at the same time, I wonder what on God's green earth is someone doing with a ZEBRA in Georgia! Why, oh why, do people feel compelled to uproot wild exotic animals out of their natural environment and hold them captive on a parcel of land that is a tiny fraction of the beast's normal habitat? This UNDOMESTICATED creature belongs in AFRICA, not Oxford, Georgia!
Posted by RichmondTom  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  08:56 AM
Francis Goes To College... if you miss that obscure reference, don't blame yourself, blame me. I'm very old, and I don't get out much. Damn ropes are too tight, the lock is pickproof, and I haven't figured out this new straightjacket yet. Dumb ass... uh, donkey. Sorry
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  10:36 AM
Harry, Francis could talk. No one has yet to say anything about this zebra saying it wanted to attend college, even one like Emory.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  11:14 AM
i find it hilarious that we can't just laugh this off and let the prank stand as it should - cleaver, cautious, and a great spin on a timeless classic. it's almost like some people forgot what it was like to be a kid. moreover, how exactly does one keep a couple zebras a mile from a college campus and not expect them to be messed with, much less set up the appropriate security measures to assure they can't be taken? i attended oxford very recently, and can personally attest to the fact that people such as edward have ruined an institution that just a couple of decades ago was widely known for it's amazing partying (a.k.a. fun, like learning should be, yet isn't at oxford) as well as its stellar academic reputation. the culprits took every precaution to make sure the animal would not be hurt. shouldn't this act of maturity, a rarity when it comes to college pranks, not be applauded in itself? shame on whoever nay-says this prank, or the people who did it. i have a problem with anyone who doesn't appreciate the humor in a zebra, safe, yet stuck on the 3rd floor of a historic building such as seney. OR SHOULD I JUST WRITE IT ALL IN CAPS TO MAKE SURE YOU KNOW I'M MAD AND CLASSLESS?
Posted by ben wright - oxford class of 07  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  12:36 PM
I once heard this comedy riff where Mister Ed was begging Wilbur to bring Carol into the stall for some horse/human interaction. Ahem. "Oh, Wilbur, you never let me have any fun". It's cause you're hung like a friggin'horse, dumbass. Uh, donkey. Sorry
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  12:55 PM
you know, I've had some second thoughts about my last post. I don't know what came over me, and I apologize profusely. I'm pretty sure that WilbUr is spelled WilbEr. Won't happen again.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  01:05 PM
What has college done for you people? Your writing is appalling. You act prestegious, but you don't prove it. Why don't you set an example, eh? College is not for partying. It is an institution for higher education.
Posted by Jackie  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  01:09 PM
okay, I've just received thousands of e-mails giving me grief for bringing up the subject of Mr' Ed's equine desires for Carol. I know, it's wrong, and I apologize again. I honestly do not know what I was thinking. I'm pretty sure it was the (neigh)bor's wife, not Wilber's wife Carol. I stand corrected, for the first time ever. Won't happen again
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  01:19 PM
Okay, so yes, stealing a zebra was an act of theft, and technically the zebra itself committed acts of vandalism. But, as a student at Oxford College, I can say that this prank made for probably the best day ever at Oxford. Everyone was smiling, and it was a clever way to dispel tension before final exams. There were a lot of things that could've gone wrong, but they didn't, largely a result of the pranksters' efforts. It was hilarious, and even the administration doesn't seem that pissed off. These things should be expected. It's not as if Emory is scraping its spare change together to pay for the damages. From a utilitarian perspective, the joy outweighed the suffering. I don't know who the pranksters are, but I have my suspicions, and I applaud them. Nothing like a bit of absurdity to make you realize how absurd life is in general.

I'm glad I'm in college. Hopefully, I won't turn out to be a humorless buzz-kill with no perspective, like some of the posters. There is no point in living life rigidly; we might as well celebrate when we're young. After college, it's called alcoholism. As a previous poster said, don't these critics remember what it was like to be a kid?

Oh, by the way, it's "prestigious," not "prestegious."
Posted by Alma Schmalma  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  01:36 PM

We already knew that. Anyway, I hope Sherry presses charges and wins. "how exactly does one keep a couple zebras a mile from a college campus and not expect them to be messed with" isn't a legitimate defense, sorry.
Posted by Sakano  in  Ohio  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  03:05 PM
I agree, Sakano. Just because there are college kids in the area should not prevent one from owning a zebra. I would, however, hide the garden gnomes, underage girls, and that full beer keg you keep on the back porch. Any combination of the above presents an irresistable temptation to most college kids. I grew up in a college town, and I cannot tell you how many times I've seen drunken uderage girls rolling a beer keg down Main Street with a garden gnome acting as a lookout for campus security. No, zebras, tho. Dammit. Drunken zebras rule
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  03:11 PM
Sorry, i meant underage, not udderage. That's a bit of a difference, usually of several years, and I apologize. Won't happen again.
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  03:17 PM
Oh that sounds awful, Hairy. Those damn college brats stealing your underage udderage and booze! But, well.. you should have known the gnomes would turn on you.
Posted by Sakano  in  Ohio  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  03:19 PM
Grammar like that?

Posted by Smug bitches  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  03:29 PM
I think all of you guys are funny....just take it as a fun experience...I know it wasnt right, but so are many other things that are happening in more serious levels everyday...they are worse, they are not even funnyyyyyy....
Love you guys...
Posted by boo  in  ox.co.  on  Thu Apr 24, 2008  at  10:07 PM
Barcode! I love it!
Posted by Dan Sz.  in  MI  on  Fri Apr 25, 2008  at  05:09 AM
I'm with Nona: Rosebowl, that's a contender for "greatest prank in the history of academia". Locking an animal in a building is not that clever, and the steps and logistics described are pretty pedestrian to any run of the mill prank. Get the zebra on top of the MIT dome, that's impressive. As pranks go, this one barely qualifies for inclusion on this site.
Posted by Ron  on  Fri Apr 25, 2008  at  06:19 AM
Man, those Emory pranksters really ought to lay off the Zebra-napping and start doing their remedial English homework for a change.
Posted by Big Gary  in  College Station, Texas  on  Fri Apr 25, 2008  at  10:14 AM
By the way, Hairy, Francis was a mule, not a donkey.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Muleshoe, Texas  on  Fri Apr 25, 2008  at  10:16 AM
Sorry, BG, I never said Francis was a donkey. I only made reference to "donkey" because it was said several times in the thread opener. Maegan noticed it , too. Francis The Talking Donkey... as if. hey, I'm old, but not senile. BTW, if I don't go camping, my mule don't go camping. A free Hairy Huzzah to anyone astute enough to figure out where that line came from. Gotta go grease Weezer, cya
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Fri Apr 25, 2008  at  10:40 AM
This is an interesting story and I would say if a prank, a good one. What interested me most was the poorly educated write up from a college student. As he wrote and I quote, "All in all I believe that once people see the brilliance behind this prank and get off their high-horse they may be able to see that college is about relationships and memories, not a grade on a test or your attendance record.", he has obviously taken to heart his words. I would be ashamed to say I was a graduate or college student who had so coarsely written the above admittance to a prank. It's a reminder of the embarrassing college students who have taken time to be on the television show "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader" then proved themselves, within the entered group, not to be. NOTING HERE, 1- It's shameful we have allowed the development of a horrifically poor educational system 2- made even poorer by students, with opportunity, who are so sorry they have no interest in making the attempt to discover the value of higher learning which is there if they want it.
Posted by RSBlain  in  Cincinnati, Ohio  on  Sun Apr 27, 2008  at  10:08 AM
Please do not make generalizations about college students based on the feeble writing of one person. That's like saying that all Ugandans are syphilitic maniacs like Idi Amin, or that all Americans are illiterate reactionaries like George Bush. Unfortunately, when one person speaks for a group (based on common assent or otherwise), outsiders make immature generalizations about the whole group. Don't oversimplify.
Posted by Alma Schmalma  in  Oxford, GA  on  Mon Apr 28, 2008  at  01:12 PM
As an alumnus of Emory now moved on to graduate school elsewhere, I've found this prank to be hilarious. It's certainly not the greatest prank ever, but getting a Zebra in a building is pretty funny-.

That said, these responses about the grammar they used in an e-mail are simply absurd. An e-mail to a website about hoaxes does not amount to a formal letter, so I really don't care what kind of prose they use. For the clowns like RSBlain (who makes getting through his/her post a chore in it of itself), please realize that this was an e-mail to website dedicated to hoaxes, etc. It was not a term paper, a formal essay, or even a formal letter. Much like the prankster who wrote that e-mail, we are all in fact posting on a website dedicated to ridiculous behavior. Within this context, you're expecting formal prose? Get real.

So you've got two options. Either A) you're so disconnected from everyone else who uses the internet that you start all instant-message chats with "Dear [friend of a clown], How are you?" and end them all with "Sincerely, I'm a Clown" Or b) you're annoyed with college kids being college kids.

Either way, I don't think it matters, but neither do the grammatical intricacies of an e-mail to a website about hoaxes and pranks. Just don't conflate your ridiculous internet etiquette, or perhaps your overly-generous view of your own intellectual abilities, with what a hastily written e-mail to a website for pranks, etc means about a student's (or Emory's) academic preparation.

Aside from the fact that the e-mail was entirely appropriate for the audience, it is presumptive to use any such e-mail as a barometer of that student's academic rigor. For instance, I pulled two pranks on Emory's other (main) campus, that were similarly sophomoric, and I'm sure that I sent out hastily written e-mails that would make an MLA-anal clown blush. Yet I also carried an excellent academic record throughout college and continue to do so in graduate school. Mull over that "paradox."

I also agree that a great college experience is SIGNIFICANTLY more complicated than my GPA, and is more of an act of development with friends and colleagues than tasks of memorization. That said, the books were always important, as I'm sure they are to this student, but these are important bonding experiences in terms of social development. This is why extracurricular activity is important on an application, and what differentiates folks who can play the grade game from people who are going to be an asset in the future. That doesn't mean a bunch of Duke lacrosse players are entitled to strippers at their next party, but good fun in good taste is part of growing up, and in my opinion, this certainly qualifies.

All in all, folks need to lighten up and just appreciate a prank for what it's worth, a chorus of nervous laughter relieving anxiety around final exams, or for those lucky "elders", graduation.
Posted by really?  in  New Haven, CT  on  Sat May 10, 2008  at  10:05 PM
Posted by Yes really  on  Sat May 10, 2008  at  11:05 PM
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