, DUBLIN, Dec 31 – Tanzania\’s gift of an elephant to Ireland in 1980 left Dublin with a "weighty baby" problem — and having to pay the transport costs, according to archive files made public Wednesday.
The elephant, presented to President Patrick Hillery by President Julius Nyerere during a state visit in February that year, resulted in a "mess", according to files released by the National Archives Office.
Tanzania\’s foreign ministry wrote to the Irish embassy in September asking if it "recalled" that Ireland had agreed to pay the air freight charges of about 66,000 Tanzanian shillings (some 4,000 Irish punts, 5,000 euros).
"The Ministry would appreciate if the embassy would make the refund at its earliest opportunity," the letter said.
"Do you have 4,000 pounds to spare?" asks a December telexed memo from the Irish foreign ministry in Dublin to the Dar-es-Salaam embassy.
"None of the three departments we have had to contact in an attempt to sort out this mess has either.
"The upshot of the whole affair is that we are left holding this weighty baby and are stuck with the freight. Anyway, you may discharge the account," the telex says.
The elephant later took up residence in Dublin Zoo, close to Hillery\’s presidential residence in the city\’s Phoenix Park.