Zoo Wants MTV Fraternity Members Charged

Fri Mar 28,10:52 AM ET

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Buffalo Zoo has asked the district attorney to pursue charges against three college students videotaped by an MTV reality series inside the zoo after hours.

District Attorney Frank Clark said his office would investigate.

"Assuming we have sufficient evidence, we'll assist (the zoo) in filing charges in Buffalo City Court," Clark said.

The students, Sigma Chi Omega pledges appearing on the MTV network's "Fraternity Life," could face criminal trespass charges, Clark said. The misdemeanor count carries a maximum jail term of 90 days.

"The idea is not to necessarily come down with a sledgehammer on the kids, but to send a message out that the zoo is not going to condone, and will aggressively pursue, anything which potentially puts the animals, or by the way, the trespassers themselves, in any sort of jeopardy," he said.

In a recent episode of the show, pledges Tim Kukulka, Earl Altheide and Steve Paul were shown walking between the hyena and antelope exhibits after scaling a wall near a zoo entrance, zoo president Donna Fernandes said.

The students talked about stealing an animal as a mascot before climbing back over the wall and driving off, she said.

Fernandes said MTV has not responded to the zoo's complaints. The cable network declined to comment Thursday.

The students were subpoenaed March 18 to appear before the Student-Wide Judiciary, UB's student newspaper reported.

Altheide told the Spectrum the incident had nothing to do with pledging and that the three sneaked out of the house to steal a chicken from the zoo to keep as a pet. Paul said they left after realizing they couldn't get into the cages.

The university suspended the Sigma Chi Omega chapter earlier this month after officials decided some activities depicted on the series might be hazing.