Camel controversy resolved
An investigation found no wrongdoing at Zeta Psi's annual Fling petting zoo
April 25, 2011, 4:55 am · Updated April 25, 2011, 12:00 am·
Kahn, a five-year-old camel owned by traveling petting zoo Peaceable Kingdom, showed up on campus during Spring Fling last weekend to mixed reviews.
Last week, George Leslie — a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Medicine — reported to various media outlets that during Fling, he passed by the Zeta Psi fraternity house and saw Kahn laying on the ground at the feet of several students.
Kahn’s Fling visit to Penn was not his first — the camel is a regular of Zeta Psi’s annual petting zoo.
Following the controversy, Office of Student Affairs/Fraternity Sorority Life director Scott Reikofski told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the office was investigating the incident. Interfraternity Council president and Wharton junior Harris Heyer said the investigation cleared Zeta Psi of any wrongdoing.
Peaceable Kingdom co-owner Charis Matey affirmed this finding. “Nothing happened,” she wrote in an email.
“I don’t think there should be any repercussions for the fraternity or Penn,” Leslie said, but “it seemed exploitative of the animals to use them in that way.”
According to Leslie, Zeta Psi “was packed full of people, all around the camel” and “girls were groping it and they were drunk.”
Leslie added that a sheep, a rabbit and a wallaby in a cage were also present, and looked “terrified” from the loud music.
“It looked like an inappropriate place for exotic animals,” Leslie said. “I’m a supporter of animal rights, but I try to be reasonable and rational about it. I think that it was the wrong place, the wrong time, for the wrong reasons to have animals at a party.”
Leslie also said he hopes that having petting zoos on campus for festivals known for reckless behavior will become something of the past.
“I think in the future it should be one of those things that used to happen,” he said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate.”
Matey told the Inquirer that “If this camel were upset … he would be growling and kicking and spitting, not lying down.”