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Horse of a different color
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Campus security officials going about their early morning routine of readying Oxford College for morning classes received a bit of a shock Wednesday when they came upon a zebra roaming the third floor of Seney Hall.

The zebra, kidnapped as part of a college student prank from a local Oxford man's farm, was installed in Seney sometime during the previous night.

Oxford students crossing the quad across from Seney Hall caught periodic glimpses of the zebra's black and white backside from the third floor window of the academic building.

 Though no one has yet owned up to the prank, students were full of speculation as to who could have carried it off.

"I would assume the graduating sophomores [did it]," said Sophomore Tammi Smith.

By the time the zebra was carted away by Newton County Animal Control around 11 a.m., several hundred students had gathered on the quad to enjoy the sunshine and revel in the hilarity of the moment, next week's finals far from their minds.

According to Smith, the zebra was only the latest in a line of campus pranks to take place in recent weeks, some of which she described as being distasteful.

"It's so sad because the staff doesn't think it's funny but the students do," Smith said. "I really do feel bad for the staff. They're all kind of stressed out."

According to Oxford College Dean Steve Bowen, there is a long college tradition of sneaking large quadruped animals up to the third floor of Seney Hall and leaving them there.

 The tradition dates back to the 1930s and was suspended in the 1950s.

"This is the first time we've had the convenience of an elevator to bring [the animal] down," Bowen said.

College officials quickly determined the zebra to be the pet of a local Oxford man, Curtis Jackson.

Bowen said the college had a long list of prank suspects but that it was too early to speculate on the identity of the culprits.

"In some ways, it's a high bit of pranksterism on the part of a very high spirited student body," Bowen said. "We won't worry very much about it, if it happens once every 50 years."

In an attempt to delay the zebra's release from Seney, pranksters fastened shut from the inside doors to the hallways on the second and third floors.

 The hall elevator was also vandalized, though campus officials were quickly able to repair it Wednesday morning so that the zebra could be brought down.

According to Bowen, chairs were also lined up against the hall windows to discourage the zebra from pushing against them.

 No food or water was left for the animal during his confinement, leading him to eat part of a college catalog.

 Damage to the doors and elevators, as well as biological cleanup from the animal's stay is estimated to be less than $10,000.

"A zebra looking out the third floor windows of Seney Hall is admittedly funny," Bowen said. "But viewed more carefully, it is an indefensible theft of personal property that put an animal at risk of serious injury.

 "If those responsible are identified they will be at risk of criminal prosecution and the college will take disciplinary action."

Once the elevator was repaired, Newton County Animal Control staff guided the zebra into the elevator then sent it down to the first floor alone.

 Bowen said the animal was sent down by himself in case he became scared in the enclosed space and lashed out.

Animal Control staff met him on the first floor, brought him out through a side door to avoid the waiting crowd and whisked him away on a trailer to be returned to his owner.

Terri Key-Hooson, director of Newton County Animal Control, described the zebra as docile and said he was removed without incident.

"They didn't have any trouble loading it into the elevator and going down the elevator," Key-Hooson said. "They were pretty concerned about doing that."