As she looked gloomily upon an endless pile of rugs in a Leverett storage room, Sarah P. Siskind ’14 was shocked to notice that one of them was staring back at her. In fact, it was a large, dead reptile.
“At first, I was exceedingly confused,” Siskind said. “It was right on top of my rug. There it became less interesting and more problematic.”
When a kind passerby finally offered to help Siskind move the animal, the two women undertook a twenty-minute endeavor during which Siskind and her assistant came up with a few theories to explain the rug.
“My guess was that [its killer] was from a swamp in Louisiana,” Siskind said. Her helper hypothesized that the rug had been picked up at a garage sale.
The news of the discovery soon went out over Leverett’s open e-mail list. Rumors began to circulate that a Harvard student had killed an alligator over the summer and had it stuffed and displayed on his wall.
In fact, the reptile in question is a crocodile—skinned, not stuffed—and Oklahoma native Sean P. Murphy ’12 actually shot the croc the summer after his sophomore year in high school during a family trip to Zimbabwe.
First, the thirteen-foot, 1200-pound Crocodylus niloticus found a home in Cabot with Sean’s brother, Conor I. Murphy ’10, where it resided for two years. But when Sean was a sophomore, he decided to reclaim the crocodile.
“We went to the quad and brought it back on the shuttle,” Murphy said.
“We stood underneath the croc, balanced it on our heads, got off at the church, and brought it back to Leverett,” his roommate, Bryan Panzano ’12, recalled. “When you’re walking underneath it, it looks like the croc is walking through the street. We get weird looks more than anything,” he said.
According to Murphy, the crocodile has remained pretty much intact during its six-year tenure at Harvard, though some of the spikes have dropped off. “He has been stepped on,” said Murphy.
But how does Murphy feel about the long-term prospects of his crocodile?
“It is organic,” he said. “It’s gonna come apart someday.”