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Prank callers crash Dublin Zoo phone system

Stressed operators need Amanda Huggenkiss

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Dublin Zoo was forced to shut down its switchboard yesterday after thousands of Irish mobile users fell for a new take on one of the oldest phone tricks in the book.

Text messages have been doing the rounds in Ireland telling unwitting recipients to call a number and ask for one of a number of named contacts.

The Irish Independent reports that the zoo’s switchboard went into meltdown yesterday, and has now been forced to answer all calls with a recorded message saying: "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." Other contacts include Ana Conda and Rory Lyons.

A spokeswoman for the zoo told RTE radio that it had always received similar calls, usually around April Fool’s Day. But now that pranksters have gone high-tech, the zoo had been hit with over 100,000 calls in the last two weeks.

“We have lost our sense of humour now with calls coming in at a rate of about 13 a minute,” she told the station.

The jape is, of course, as old as the telephone itself, and has traditionally been played on office juniors or work experience kids. Similar twists include calling Battersea Dogs Home and asking for Mr Bassett, and sending building site neophytes down to the storeroom to ask for some tartan paint and a set of skyhooks.

We tried to call Dublin Zoo to check on the situation, but were told the PR dept’s junior had yet to return after they were sent to the stationery dept to ask for a long weight. ®

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