independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Call of the wild

Flood of messages for G. Raffe and Rory Lion rattle Dublin Zoo’s cage

HOAX calls to Dublin Zoo for Rory Lion, and G. Raffe have sent its telephone switchboard into a virtual meltdown, the facility’s bosses said yesterday.

Up to 5,000 unsuspecting victims of an old, but seemingly resurrected, practical joke are bombarding the phone lines at the Phoenix park attraction every day with calls for mystery persons like Anna Conda.

Management said the calls are now taking their toll on workers and they have posted a message on their answer machine warning people about the prank.

It states: “Welcome to Dublin Zoo. If you are calling to speak to Mr Rory Lion, C. Lion, G. Raffe or anyone similar, please be aware that you are the victim of a hoax message. If this is the case, please hang up as this is proving to be a very serious waste of our time and our resources.”

The calls are the result of an old joke given a new impetus with the help of modern technology – mobile phone texting.

Mobile-users receive a message from someone they know urging them to phone a telephone number for an urgent message from a fictitious person, whose name sounds like an animal.

Veronica Chrisp, marketing manager for Dublin Zoo, accepted many people will see the funny side but added the calls were now so frequent they are threatening business at the major visitor hotspot.

“I can understand why people may think that this is amusing but it has caused a lot of difficulty for the staff here at Dublin Zoo who are trying to manage the phonecalls,” she said.

“Since these prank texts and phonecalls began, it has been nothing but a nuisance.

“As a charity, we are simply not equipped to handle such a substantial number of calls and it's a serious waste of our time.”

Zoo bosses said the tens of thousands of prank phone calls over the past two weeks have blocked genuine tourists and potential customers from getting through.

They also warned that some victims of the joke were ringing up genuinely worried about the urgent message.

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