back to article Prank callers crash Dublin Zoo phone system

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 …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Ho Ho

    The oldest one is getting your mechanic to pop down to stores for a long weight.

    More of this tomfoolery .. its POETS day

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Expiry Dates

    We had one where we sent people to check on the expiry dates of cotton wool.

  3. Martin

    And of course....

    sending the apprentice in the faotory to ask for a skirting board ladder...

  4. Anonymous Coward


    ROTFLMAO! That is all.

  5. Moz

    Missing a Revenue Stream

    Change the switchboard number to an 0870 number (well, the RoI equivalent) and they'd be quids (well, euros) in.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    More Dublin Zoo prank calls

    Google "Little Becky Dublin Zoo" to hear another prank call on the zoo.

    Paris because I once phoned HP asking for a P.A. Risk and they put me through to DEC.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old chestnuts:

    Glass hammer

    Striped paint (Horizontal or vertical stripes, son?)

    Sparks for the grinder (Yellow, green, red, blue or white, son?)

    The other half had to answer the phone for Michael Hunt, but that was just parents being wilfully obtuse.

  8. Bryan Jones
    Thumb Up

    Who could forget

    Go get a left handed shovel

    Get some glass nails

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I seem to recall sending people for "long stands", "wireless power supplies", "300m of wireless network cable", "glass nails" and a few others.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    nurses' humour

    as a fresh nursing student I had "go to the stores and fetch me some fallopian tubes and a neck torniquet"

  11. Anonymous Coward


    I did that to my misses on April Fools.. didn't go down too well :)

  12. Peter
    Thumb Up


    Not one I've done myself, but a colleague told me about this. A developer once had a problem with GUIDs in his code. The fooled him into beleiving that the GUIDs were out of stock. You had to order them at Microsoft per 25000.

    The boss was aware of the joke and when the developer asked the boss that he rapidly needed new GUIDs, the boss gave his approval.

    The developer then called MS for a new order of GUIDs...

  13. Dave F

    Ahh.....those were the days.

    I used to get people to phone London Zoo and ask for C Lyon or G Raffe.

    Then when they complained I'd say I didn't do it on porpoise.


  14. Calvin Davidson
    Thumb Up

    yet another...

    "Nip down the stores and fetch me a metric adjustable spanner and while you're there, get a new bubble for the spirit-level, will you?"

    Oh, how we laughed!

  15. John Kelly

    skirting board ladder

    I once worked on a building site where a newbie was sent for a skirting board ladder. He returned with a ladder for a bird cage - complete with receipt.

    I also saw a guy refuse to go get a piano hinge.

    We went down to the hardware shop with him and got the one.

    Just when we got back on site, the boss said

    Darn, I forgot the accordian lock ...

  16. Kevin Gurney

    How much ?

    Has it cost somebody to send out the 100,000+ text messages that have rompted teh prank calls ?

  17. Matt Martin

    Uh, yes, I'm looking for a friend of mine. Last name Jass. First name Hugh.

    Moe: Uh, hold on, I'll check. [calling] Hugh Jass! Can somebody check the men's room for a "Huge ass"?!

    Hugh Jass: Uh, I'm Hugh Jass.

    Moe: Telephone. [hands over the receiver]

    Hugh Jass: Hello, this is Hugh Jass.

    Bart: [surprised] Uh, hi.

    Hugh Jass: Who's this?

    Bart: Bart Simpson.

    Hugh Jass: Well, what can I do for you, Bart?

    Bart: Uh, look, I'll level with you, Mister. This is a prank call that sort of backfired. I'd like to bail out right now.

    Hugh Jass: All right. Better luck next time. [hangs up] What a nice young man.

  18. Richard

    DASD space problem?

    Get the trainee [mainframe] operator to fetch a box of storage.

  19. TranceMist
    Gates Horns

    Wrong Target

    Too bad they had to direct this at a Zoo... would have been better on a global scale and directed at some large evil corporate villain.

  20. andy gibson

    is making it public a good idea?

    I'm not in Ireland so I'm not in on the joke, but I will give them a call this afternoon!

  21. Moogal

    I used to work in a hardware store...

    ...the number of people we'd get in who'd been sent by their bosses to buy these items.

    We used to pass them over to particularly gullible members of staff who didn't know any better - "The gentleman would like some Tartan Paint, can you show him where it is? We keep it by the Hammerite..."

  22. Matthew

    Battersea Dog's home...

    I always thought it was Jack Russell you were supposed to ask for...

  23. Tony

    Something for the weekend sir?

    About 2 months after I first started work (aged 15), I was handed a paper bag with a £1 note in it, and instructions on the back to go to the hairdresser to fetch a packet of condoms for the manager.

    Thinking it was one of these initiation stunts, I queried it; my supervisor suggested that I check it out with the person concerned. To my surprise, it was actually true; the guy was too embarassed to go out and buy them himself.

    After that, it became a semi-regular occurance; as it happened about every 4-6 weeks, there were lots of comments about weekend activities.

    On one occasion, the hairdresser was closed; I had to go to a local pharmacy instead. As I was buying the 3 pack of nu-form, the manager's wife who was shopping there, saw me and told me in no uncertain terms that I could put them back! (I still bought them anyway!)

  24. Stuart Cherrington

    more jipes

    We used to make the newboy spill something on his desk and tell him to go to the cleaners store and get some Elbow Grease!

    One of them actually went, I think we're still waiting for him to comeback.

  25. Alan Potter
    Gates Horns

    Mike Hunt

    I was once sent to Tesco's to get some 'Pressed Vole'

    We also convinced our Dev Mgr (many moons ago) that we needed several ooglybytes of memory. He asked us to generate a purchase order, which we duly did. We just wish we had been at the management meeting when he presented this. Anyway, we were turned down.

    Mr Gates because we'll probably need ooglybytes when SP3 for Vista comes out

  26. David Webb


    A while ago I was sent a text message saying "about a job, phone this number and ask for Tony". Obviously I didn't want a new job so said no, but they said phone it anyway which I did. Turned out the "Tony" that I called lived at number 10 Downing Street.

  27. Anonymous Coward


    Or Al, second name, Sation

  28. Steve Liddle

    long time ago...

    Reminds me of the scout group that used to run, had a treasure search, one lot had to goto the abseiling tower for skyhooks the others went to the caving area for troll bait. All of them fell for it, the instructors kept them busy for a while searching for it :)

    Nice to see the Irish are as gullible as the rest of us

  29. Anonymous Coward

    bah spoilsports

    Damn recorded messages, im off to ask for Rory at ZSL instead erm 0207 449 6280 cough..

  30. Nish

    Shouldve gone to specsavers!

    I remember working at vision express and being sent to specsavers to see if we could borrow a box of prism! The guy in specsavers gave the strangest look!

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Dim-witted McDonalds workers

    Had some classics in my time at McDonalds:

    The donut-hole puncher

    The felopian tubes for the shake machine

    Flux capacitor for the coffee machine

    Bags of sesame seeds for the buns

    A medium sized weight (a take on the classic)

    .. and don't watch the microwave as it will fry your eyes (apparently, although this was many moons ago, this started a bit of an urban legend in the store I worked in).

    A heart for the fond memories ;)


  32. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Up

    The Classic

    Heathrow announcements:-

  33. Elmer Phud

    @Steve Liddle

    Troll bait is frequently found in the comments here at the Reg.

    At the appropriate moment just drop in 'Linux is shite' and there are loads of eager things dangling on your hook.


    (I actually own a left-handed hammer.)

  34. Pete James

    lapels are in this summer

    I once asked my newbie assitant to call Sky and ask about subscribing for satellite gas.

  35. Ron Giesbrecht

    an oldie

    I had a friend ring the undertakers and ask to speak to Myra Maines

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Old tech

    I remember convincing a manager that we'd worn out the tokens in our token ring network so he went and tried to order them from IBM :-)

    Paris because she has a far nicer ring.

  37. Lloyd

    Sitting in the office one day

    And the receptionist picked up a call for one of the directors (it was her brother who was always prank calling), when putting him through she was asked who it was and what it was about, her response was "it's Jim Morrison about the Doors", the whole office fell about laughing but she just sat there clueless.

  38. Daniel Gould
    Paris Hilton

    And another one

    I worked for a support company working for an Australian bank in London. On the trading floor, there was a very pretty but clueless lady who was the admin assistant for the traders, and who had dated most of them. Someone called her and asked her to see if anyone had seen Mark Hunt - when she shouted it out, everyone put up their hands, accompanied by lots of schoolboy-like giggling.... oh how we laughed!

    Probably the sort of thing that Paris could shout and get a similar response to!

  39. TeeCee Gold badge

    Long weights.

    A mate of mine told me that upon starting work on a construction site he was sent, by the foreman, to a local hardware store for some "Long Weights". He knew the gag, but since some time off doing bugger all was available he said nothing and went. When he got there, he had a look around and found a box of sash weights (long, thin lead weights to counterweight sash windows). Figuring that the storeman was in on the gag, he took the box to the counter and explained the situation.

    The upshot was that he got to go back with the entire box (returnable for credit) and present same to the foreman with the explanation that he hadn't been told exactly how many long weights were wanted. He followed this with the eye-wateringly large invoice that the storeman had made up for him, causing a very sharp intake of breath and a passable fish-out-of-water impersonation.

    Moral: Be careful what you ask for, you may just get it.

  40. Brian

    Always fun

    I used to work in Supermarket back in my youth.

    I used to always get the new kids to run up to the fish counter and get a Leg of Salmon for a customer. Priceless

  41. Dalen

    Not sure if it's an urban legend...

    One prank in the Soviet NAVY involved a Chief Petty Officer ordering a pair of rookies to grab some metal files and cut through the ship's anchor - neatly down the middle. The plan backfired when one of the rookies spotted his girlfriend operating an acetylene burner on the pier.

    Flames because of the burner, of course.

  42. Graham Marsden

    Long weights...

    A friend once got presented with the Long Weight instruction...

    ... he bunked off down the pub for a couple of hours!

  43. Pete

    Always better when there's more people in on the joke!

    I remember working in an Army-surplus-cum-camping store many years ago and sending the new guy to the next store along because 'a regular customer has asked for some dehydrated water and we've run out'.

    Thankfully, the rival shop down the road sent him back with a nice bag of talcum powder for his troubles!

    Mines the one with the Zip buttons.

  44. Feargal Reilly
    Black Helicopters

    @Kevin Gurney

    Well whoever started this batch probably had a bundle of free texts and sent it to all his mates.

    From there, well... apparently they were averaging 8 calls a minute, and that doesn't include the calls that couldn't get through.

    But yeah, I'm sure the phone companies love things like this. Hmm... I wonder...

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    heres a good one

    go to the pub find a bar maid call the bar from the bogs, and ask for

    Mike hunt.

    Or Hugh Jarse.

    has any one seen...............

    any one remember the Auzzy horse. Hoof harted.

  46. Phil

    I couldn't win

    As a spotty faced youth, I had a job in a hardware shop.

    Someone came in and asked for a skirting ladder, I told him his boss was winding him up. My boss then had a right go at me for not trying to sell him something.

    A few weeks later a guy came in and asked for a spirit level bubble. We did sell the replacement glass bits with the bubble in for certain levels. I tried to sell him one, then had to endure both him and my boss taking the piss out of me for 30 mins.

    Roll on a couple of years, a kid came in looking for a tin of tartan paint. We had our Saturday boy looking for over 20 mins with this kid, before we finally got him to take a £5 deposit and say we'd order it for him :)

  47. Captain DaFt

    My little contribution

    Once I sent a doofus to maintenance to get a door-stretcher when he couldn't figure out how to get a pallet he misloaded into a freight elevator (Obvious solution, restack the pallet correctly)

    45 minutes later the foreman asked me where he was. I explained what happened. and the foreman set off in pursuit.

    Another 45 minutes pass, and the foreman returns with the doofus and after sending him back to work, wants "A word with me."

    It seems the maintenance foreman picked up on the joke, and had sent him to the loading area at the farthest end of the factory.

    They in turn, had sent him to another loading dock, where he was sent to a delivery area, and so on and so on.

    Of course, the poor foreman had to retrace every route the doofus took in his quest to retrieve him, and was about 50/50 annoyed and amused. I was cautioned "When a damned fool ask a stupid question, give him a straight answer,"

  48. Charley

    Clear food colouring

    I still remember being in the restaurant trade about 15 years ago. Sent the new kitchen-hand down to the dry-stores looking for clear food colouring.

    20 minutes, no sign of him. So, I send a waitress out to help him.

    20 minutes later, still no sign of either of them. The new duty manager goes to assist.

    10 minutes later the boss comes in fuming wondering where everyone was and, on being told, is cluey enough to see the piss-take.

    Got a hell of a yelling at, though he had a hard time keeping a straight face while he was doing it.

  49. Roger Greenwood

    A few more not mentioned above . . .

    In a laboratory - being sent for a loud retort.

    In a drawing office - being sent for a drawing of a short circuit.

    At the stores - a glass headed mallet or a long stand.

    The old ones are the best.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bubble wrap your bubble wrap.

    My brother used to work as a motorcycle mechanic. One day spying the trainee casually bursting some big (inch diameter) bubble-wrap, he went into a rage, telling the lad that this was “fork air” for filling the suspension forks and that each bubble was worth about a pound. Annoyed that someone had left such an expensive product lying around, he made the poor chap wrap it up in bubble wrap (small, ¼ inch stuff) and take it back to the parts department.

  51. Adrian Challinor

    Ahh and I remember

    Having the foreman send the young lad to the stores for a "Sky Hook", and the storeman giving him a neatly wrapped parcel containing one hook, with the instructions that read: "Using ladder, climb high and attach to a passing cloud".

  52. Finn

    Tech version

    Couple of years back our lab had a professor, who sent young students to purchase a new laser-pointer for him. Trick was, that specs were FEL (as in Free Electron Laser) type device costing no more than € 200.

  53. Moss Icely Spaceport
    Thumb Up


    I used to get requests from apprentices who were sent to get 'left-handed screw drivers". I told them we only had right-handed ones but to use their left hand to operate it. Never had any complaints.

  54. Tim Russell

    I once got sent to ask for....

    ... a set of spark plugs for a 2.5 liter diesel land rover....

    That said I like the Amanda Hugenkis in the title :)

  55. Lukin Brewer

    Billy Connolly

    When he was an apprentice at the shipyards, Billy Connolly was sent to get "the equipment from the Stowaway's Locker". He was given rough directions to a distant part of the site and advised to get further directions there. Long story short: events took their course, the coin eventually dropped, Billy confronted his workmates and they pissed themselves laughing at him. End of joke.

    A little while later, one of his team asked him to get some corundum powder. Corundum is natural aluminium oxide, a very hard, white, crystalline mineral, used as an abrasive in many industrial applications. But Billy had never heard of it, and thought that it sounded like the most stupid joke name going. To his workmates' bemusement, he told them that they weren't going to catch him out again so easily or so soon, and refused to go the stores.

  56. Sweep

    @ Lukin Brewer

    I reckon Billy told it better.

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