Organisers of Carbon club night ‘Zoo’ have cancelled controversial plans to showcase a “real life zebra” at their Mayday party following pressure from animal rights groups and local people.

A statement on their Facebook page yesterday announced, “Due to problems with…Animal Rights opposition we are no longer allowed the Zebra for the evening. Please note that it was never in our intentions to cause any distress to the Zebra, it was to be enclosed in a large pen OUTSIDE of the smoking area.”

Following the cancellation, PETA, The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation, commented, “We’re delighted to hear that the club has decided against having a zebra at its venue after receiving complaints from local people.

“We commend the club for turning its back on this ill-conceived plan and are very grateful to the people of Oxford who have expressed their objection – it’s a wonderful example of the power that individuals have to make a positive difference in their community.”

Upon learning of the intended plan prior to its cancellation, RSPCA Oxfordshire commented, “The idea is appalling.” They added, “Organizers of this event should be reported to the RSPCA and the venue should be boycotted by all those concerned for animal welfare. The only thing that could be done to ensure that no distress is caused to the animal would be for the idea to be quashed.”

When initially contacted for comment earlier this week, PETA told Cherwell, “With high-tech animatronics and video deejays, there can be no justification for subjecting animals to the stress of travel, confinement, confusing conditions, bright lights and loud and scary noise. We hope Oxford students will see this stunt for what it is – a shameless ploy to sell tickets to an event on a competitive party night – and choose to support other local clubs that don’t exploit animals.” Carbon nightclub declined to respond to such criticisms.

The national RSPCA stated that it is “not against the use of animals for any form of entertainment unless distress or suffering is likely to be caused.” In this case, however, the RSPCA stated it was “concerned that the safety and welfare of the zebra, or any other animal they may use, may be unnecessarily compromised for the purpose of entertainment,” and advised that the organisers sought expert advice about the welfare of animals used for entertainment.

Several students have expressed their disbelief at the scheme, with one third year student commenting, “I think this a ridiculous and insane idea.”

The Facebook group for the event advertised the night as “Guaranteed to be the biggest Mayday party in Oxford” with “something the Oxford clubbing scene has never seen before – a REAL LIFE ZEBRA!!”

On the Facebook event page, the news that a live zebra was coming to Carbon was greeted by 27 likes, with one attendee commenting “genius!” and another stating it was going to be “epic.” Not everyone was so positive, however, with another posting, “Genius? I don’t think so. What a step backward for animal rights. How disappointing. A zebra will be transported, kept in a confined space and exposed to massive stress, how on earth is being responsible for animal cruelty something to be proud of?”

Another posted, “This is absolutely abhorrent. How can these people use any animal in the name of entertainment? Have you got no respect or compassion for a creature that will be utterly stressed out of its mind. WHY? Is this poor Zebra really going to add to the nights ‘entertainment’? PLEASE think again – I don’t think having a zebra or any creature is going to add to the night out.”

The organisers initially responded to the post by stating that it would be “outside” and “in its own pen” with “plenty of space.”

The decision to withdraw plans for a zebra prompted mixed reactions. Second year Jane Northfield commented, “This has ruined my Mayday. I was really looking forward to seeing the zebra, and in fact, it was the main reason I chose to go. It really would have been special. It’s now going to be like Itchy Feet without the music.”

However, Brookes student Eddy Allison stated, “Don’t worry ladies, the animal issue is sorted, I’ll be bringing a snake with me.”