Saturday, October 01, 2005

The author of a bad joke has to answer about dolphin auction

But the Auckland man at the centre of the stunt says it was only a joke and he is surprised at how gullible New Zealanders are.

Mark Lorrigan, 30, an advertising industry worker of New Lynn, set a reserve price of $100,000 for the non-existent mammal, which he said he had caught accidentally while fishing.

Trade Me official Mike O'Donnell said the hoaxer - whom he described as having a "brain the size of a pea" - posted a photo on the website of a dolphin in a backyard swimming pool, saying he was feeding it pilchards and that it would ideally suit a commercial aquarium.
The image was later found to have been electronically altered.

Mr O'Donnell said Trade Me stopped the auction about an hour after it began on Tuesday, but not before bidding reached $10,500. "It was a hoax auction. We removed it immediately and sent the guy a warning.

"Clearly, we think it's, one, wasting people's time; two, it's in bad taste; and three, if it's legitimate it's potentially breaking the law."

Wildlife Enforcement Group senior investigator Peter Younger said authorities were inundated with calls from dolphin lovers.

Conservation Department officers visited Mr Lorrigan. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also spoke to him. He received a warning but no charges would be laid because he had done nothing illegal, Mr Younger said.

"A lot of people are absolutely appalled. He's an advertising executive who did this sort of thing just for fun and wasted three days of everyone's time in the process.

"It's been time-consuming and bloody annoying, not to put too fine a point on it. We're not impressed."

Contacted by The Dominion Post, Mr Lorrigan said the auction was only a joke. He was surprised by all the fuss and the gullibility of so many people.

He regretted any inconvenience his actions had caused and said he planned to make a "substantial donation" to the SPCA.

"Most people just think it was quite funny. I'm surprised how liked dolphins are."
He is having one final laugh. His latest offering on the auction website is a Save Skippy the Dolphin child's jumpsuit.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"