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The Bristol Zoo Parking Attendant

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Parking Lot Mitch Diamond / Getty Images

Email tale about 'a very pleasant attendant" who, for 25 years running, showed up every day at Bristol Zoo to collect parking fees from visitors, then one day simply vanished with all the cash.

Description: Email joke / Urban legend
Circulating since: April 2007
Status: FALSE (see details below)

Example:
Email contributed by Kenneth D., July 6, 2009:

Fw: A well-planned retirement

From The London Times:

Outside the Bristol Zoo, in England, there is a parking lot for 150 cars and 8 coaches, or buses.

It was manned by a very pleasant attendant with a ticket machine charging cars 1 pound (about $1.40) and coaches 5 (about $7).

This parking attendant worked there solid for all of 25 years. Then, one day, he just didn't turn up for work.

"Oh well", said Bristol Zoo Management - "we'd better phone up the City Council and get them to send a new parking attendant..."

"Err ... no", said the Council, "that parking lot is your responsibility."

"Err ... no", said Bristol Zoo Management, "the attendant was employed by the City Council, wasn't he?"

"Err ... NO!" insisted the Council.

Sitting in his villa somewhere on the coast of Spain, is a bloke who had been taking the parking lot fees, estimated at 400 pounds (about $560) per day at Bristol Zoo for the last 25 years. Assuming 7 days a week, this amounts to just over 3.6 million pounds ($7 million).

And no one even knows his name.



Analysis: If ever there was a story too good to be true, this is one. Not only has a crack team of journalists from the Bristol Evening Post conducted a thorough investigation and found the tale of the phantom car park attendant to be "nothing more than an urban myth," they have also succeeded in pinning down its exact point of origin: the Bristol Evening Post!

And I quote: "A version of the story did appear in the Evening Post two years ago," explained an article in the June 13, 2009 edition of the paper, "in a feature on urban myths published to coincide with April Fools' Day."

I.e., as of this writing it's a five-year-old April Fools' prank gone viral; nothing more to it than that. For the record, the Evening Post article further stated that Bristol Zoo actually has more than one car park — several, in fact, none of which are open to coaches (buses) — and a comparable number of duly-hired attendants on the job.

See also: The Funniest Urban Legends We Know

Sources and further reading:

Urban Myth of the Bristol Zoo Parking Attendant
Bristol Evening Post, 13 June 2009

Last updated 04/01/14

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