Roll out a list of local Derbyshire heroes to a friend who isn’t from here, and you’ll get a puzzled look when you reach “Oink”. Try explaining it, and they’ll think you’ve had a funny twist.
But the famous water buffalo from the riverside Haslams Lane field has brought delight and intrigue to locals for years. So much so that he gets a new memorial in his old stomping grounds, and even features on Google Maps.
Smiles are pretty easy to explain. Oink was just good to be around and watch, and feeding the big beast his unusual favorite snacks was fun.
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The drama was plentiful, almost worthy of its own spectacle. Let’s review some of the big stories Oink has been involved in over the years.
Thugs attack Oink – and he gets his own security
The story that put Oink in the national press. Before July 2008, local thugs were busy making poor Oink’s life hell.
Their cruelty consisted of throwing bricks at him, setting fire to his hay bales, and adding mustard to his trough or washing-up liquid to his water. At one point, Oink was so afraid of the outside world that he rarely left the safety of his shelter.
As news of the plight of the water buffaloes spread, support was offered to then-owner Katherine Moore. Local man David Lakin has set up a CCTV system to closely monitor the Oink field, including security lights and motion detectors.
Another man, Mark Dixon, created a website where people could offer their own support to the local icon, including raising money for a new fence. Oink’s story has made its way into local and national news, from the Derby Telegraph and BBC local news to GMTV – and strangely enough, the Financial Times.
Oink’s website is no longer online, but you can still view some pages on the Internet archive site, Wayback Machine. The campaign to help her was a good example of people’s big hearts.
The first owner of Oink in Derbyshire was John Kirby, a former clergyman. He gave the water buffalo and the land it lived in to his friend Katherine Moore in 2006.
The field cost £2,000, and Moore would later claim this as fair market value. Four years later, Kirby tried to get Oink back, in court.
He claimed mental health issues around 2006 at the time of the donation and sale meant he was unable to make sensible decisions and was subject to undue influence. A psychiatrist testifying in county court provided evidence that convinced the judge otherwise.
The case went to the Court of Appeal in 2011, but they agreed with the county court judge. Kirby’s old friend would not be returned, and Moore kept Oink and the land.
The saga divided the old friends. John Kirby called the decision “absolutely despicable”, while Katherine Moore called it “brilliant news”.
Google gets in on the action
Walk up Haslams Lane on Google Maps and you’ll see a green icon – normally used for parks, forests, lakes and the like. This one reads “Former field of Oink The Water Buffalo”.
The one-and-a-half-ton beast is now immortalized in cyberspace, and the site has 5-star reviews — sure. People have left their memories in the form of reviews for “the old estate”.
William Wade said: “I remember as a child taking boxes of misshapen vegetables from my mother’s job and giving them to Oink. Very fond memories of a very happy water buffalo.”
Stephen Campbell said: “It fills me with unprecedented joy to see the field of Oink finally added to this map platform. Oink was special. He was the friendliest and friendliest water buffalo that I have ever met.”
William Eley added, quite simply, “RIP brother”. RIP, Oink.
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