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Dublin Zoo Has People Seeing Red!


As part of its ‘Orang-utan Awareness Week’, Dublin Zoo has offered free entry to the zoo to all children with red hair.

Ciarán McMahon, the keeper of orang-utans at the zoo, defended the campaign, explaining it was initiated as a ‘fun and quirky’ way of raising awareness about the serious issue of the possibility of the extinction of the animal in the coming years.

Some Dubliners have not been quite so enthusiastic, as in recent days some opinions on various message-boards and twitter wondered aloud whether the promotion smacked of discrimination. One tweet screamed ‘Apes and Redheads – Connection?’ However Marian Purdy, co-founder of the website redheadandproud.com, which seeks to counter discrimination against redheads, said she could not see too much harm in the campaign

Well there may be more than just the obvious colour connection. Although the possible extinction of orang-utan is real possibility in the coming decades, scientists are as yet unable to decide whether the recessive MC1R gene, which makes red-heads red, will eventually lead to their extinction. According to some scientists, red-heads (who have been walking the earth for anything between 20-40,000 years) could be extinct as early as 2060, although other say it may take much longer.

Although red-heads are to found in many parts of the world, they are most prevalent in the ‘celtic’ countries of North-Western Europe, particularly Ireland and Scotland. Up to 46% of Irish people carry the recessive variant gene. In recent months, red-heads have again hit the headlines when deputy-leader of the British Labour Party branded one political opponent a ‘ginger rodent’.

Dublin Zoo was opened in 1831 and is located in the west end of the city, just on the edge of The Phoenix Park, Europe’s largest urban park. Recent additions include Emas & Wanita (Sumatran tiger cubs born last May), a newborn baby white rhino, and Neema, a baby giraffe.

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