OPINION: Clonmel could afford to house and feed hungry elephants and chimps from the zoo

Billy O'Riordan's column this week in The Nationalist

Billy O'Riordan


Billy O'Riordan



Dublin Zoo announces date for reopening  under stringent health and safety protocols

Dublin Zoo

We live in strange times, when even the elephants in Dublin Zoo are being placed on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

A desperate appeal was made recently by Dublin Zoo to save itself from closure. As I write from my home here in Glenconnor, I find my eyes drawn to the garden.

Making a quick calculation and allowing for total ignorance, my estimation is that the average sized garden in Glenconnor could house – comfortably – a family of at least six chimpanzees.

My garden has more than enough trees to keep the happy family swinging to its hearts content over the winter months.

Now, I’m not saying that the average family in Clonmel could afford to house and feed a family of hungry chimps. No, we would expect some form of allowance on par with the “Children’s Allowance”.

Let’s for arguments sake call it the “Chimp’s Allowance’.

Yes, on the first Tuesday of every month we’d happily queue on Emmet Street for our monthly allowance, which I can assure one and all, won’t be spent in the 0ff licence or the bookies, indeed not.

Nothing but the finest M’n’S bananas for Clonmel’s newest residents.

I fully expect the County Council to throw its full weight behind our efforts to save Dublin Zoo. For example, a herd of zebras, elephants and giraffes could, very easily find a welcome home in Richard Mulcahy Park.

The families who use this wonderful local amenity would welcome the addition of packs of hyenas scampering across the open grasslands down towards the River Suir, which would, by now be filled with crocodiles.

Additionally, a local amenity such as the swimming pool – lying idle during lockdown – would make a perfect temporary home for a flock (is it a flock?) of delighted penguins.

Imagine the happy faces on Clonmel’s children as they watch the penguins whiz up and down the length of the pool.

Think of the publicity the town would get for offering a temporary home to the nation’s exotic animals. Visitors will come from far and wide “post Covid” to marvel at the sight of rhinos galloping across Denis Burke Park in pursuit of a stray orangutan.

With the winter months closing in on us, we can look forward to Santa switching on the lights in O’Connell street atop an elephant.

Back to the chimpanzees in my back garden for a moment. My only issue, apart from the loud mating calls every night, is this: what to do with the droppings? Is it the compost bin or the household waste bin?

If anyone has knowledge of such matters, i.e. the disposal of chimpanzee droppings, please contact the editor. All of us have happy childhood memories of visits to Dublin Zoo.

I remember taking my own children there on many occasions. It is a great day out and it is the only reason to visit our capital, when you have young children.

It would be a national shame if it were to close. That being said, the offer is there, if the Government put out the call, Clonmel won’t be found wanting.

I’ve a reasonably seized shed for the chimps on a wet day and a reasonably sized garden on a fine day. I’m sure my new family of chimpanzees would have a lovely Christmas here in Glenconnor.

I may even bring them inside – hang on a second, I’ve just painted the place – if they behave. Do chimps eat turkey ‘n’ ham? Now that I’ve launched the idea, I’m kind of excited about it. I’m lucky in that I’ve very good neighbours up here.

What’s a family of chimpanzees going to do to good neighbourly relations? I’m sure once I head to Emmet Street for my ‘Chimp licences’ I’m covered.

Clonmel is gearing up for the Christmas rush. There is a big meeting about Level 5 coming up this week.
After which, we will know more.

Fingers crossed, we move down a level or two. That’s all academic to me as I prepare the house for my new arrivals. Let me see…. bananas… six chimp sized masks…. a big shovel…and oh yes, ear plugs. Until next time.