April Fool's Day Hoaxes Involving Animals
The Washing of the Lions.
The April 2, 1698 edition of Dawks’s News-Letter reported that “Yesterday being the first of April, several persons were sent to the Tower Ditch to see the Lions washed.” This is the first recorded instance of a popular April Fool's Day prank that involved sending people to the Tower of London to see the "washing of the lions." The joke was that there was no lion-washing ceremony. It was a fool's errand. (For more info, see the Hoaxipedia article: Washing The Lions)
St. Louis Zoo Changes its Number.
In order to avoid the avalanche of calls on April 1st for Mr. Lyon, Mr. Wolf, and Mr. Fox, the St. Louis Zoo changed its phone number for one day. Sterling 0900, the zoo's regular phone number, was changed to Sterling 0901.
Dogs to be painted white.
Politiken, a Copenhagen newspaper, reported that the Danish parliament had passed a new law requiring all dogs to be painted white. The purpose of this, it explained, was to increase road safety by allowing dogs to be seen more easily at night. [Appleton Post-Crescent, Apr 1, 1965.]
Radio Merseyside in Britain reported about a ‘bionic’ horse. The broken leg of this horse had been replaced with a plastic leg that gave the horse more spring in its step. As a result, the horse was said to be favored to win the Grand National.
The Talking Pelican.
The Sunday News-Journal in Daytona Beach reported the discovery of a talking pelican, found by a Georgia tourist, Sam P. Suggins, when the pelican asked Suggins for fish as he was walking along a dock. Unfortunately the pelican would not talk to anyone else. Nor was it very bright, as Suggins remarked that it said “Kitty” while looking at a small dog. The article noted that there have been recorded instances of sailors teaching pelicans to speak, just as parrots can be taught to speak, and theorized that this must have been such a case.
Radiation Rouses Prehistoric Creatures.
Frank Jones, of the Toronto Star, reported that radiation leaking into Lake Ontario was causing prehistoric creatures to crawl up out of the lake and onto the shores of Ward’s Island.
The Michigan Shark Experiment.
The Herald-News in Roscommon, Michigan reported that 3 lakes in northern Michigan had been selected to host "an in-depth study into the breeding and habits of several species of fresh-water sharks." Two thousand sharks were to be released into the lakes including blue sharks, hammerheads, and a few great whites. The experiment was designed to determine whether the sharks could survive in the cold climate of Michigan, and apparently the federal government was spending $1.3 million to determine this. A representative from the National Biological Foundation was quoted as saying that there would probably be a noticeable decline in the populations of other fish in the lake because "the sharks will eat about 20 pounds of fish each per day, more as they get older."
County officials were said to have protested the experiment, afraid of the hazard it would pose to fishermen and swimmers, but their complaints had been ignored by the federal government. Furthermore, fishermen had been forbidden from catching the sharks. The report concluded by again quoting the National Biological Foundation representative, who said that "We can't be responsible for people if they are attacked. Besides,
Loch Ness Footprints.
The naturalist David Bellamy announced the discovery of gigantic footprints on the shore of Loch Ness, declaring it had now been proven that the famous monster was a dinosaur. The announcement appeared on numerous children's TV shows as well as on the front page of the Daily Record. It turned out that the announcement was a public relations campaign orchestrated by Handel Communications to promote a new chocolate biscuit called Dinosaurs.
Ostrich Buries Its Head in the Sand.
The Daily Mail published a photograph showing an ostrich burying its head in the sand, under the headline "The picture that will give all sceptics the bird." An accompanying article explained:
"Despite years of trying, wildlife experts had been unable to find a single witness to confirm that the world's largest bird indulges in the extraordinary habit featured in the saying. Today, however, the Daily Mail can reveal that it does. Our picture means the sceptics can bury their heads in the sand no longer. It was taken by British wildlife photographer Jones Bloom, who ventured into the heart of Africa in his quest for the truth. He made contact with the Chostri Setear, a little-known tribe of the central Kalahari region whose members understand the ways of the ostrich better than any other people on earth... This week, after four years spent trying to win the tribe's confidence, Bloom was at last invited to accompany the Chostri Setear on a hunting expedition deep inside Ofolri Lap National Park...
'It was an astonishing experience,' Bloom said yesterday. 'For three hours we crept through the bush. When at last we spotted an ostrich, the lion cub ran straight at it. As soon as the
Endangered Species Restaurant.
The Sydney Morning Herald reviewed Species restaurant in their Good Living supplement. This unusual dining establishment allowed diners to sample animals featured on the World Wildlife Fund's endangered list. Among its specialties: braised slices of hairy nosed wombat, yellow spotted tree frog kebabs and Sumatran Rhino steaks. The owner of the restaurant was named April Phewell. The next day the paper received numerous letters from outraged readers who thought the restaurant was real.
Nessie Fence Opposed.
The Inverness Courier reported on opposition to a plan to build a six-foot high fence around parts of Loch Ness in order to protect the public from Nessie:
"The Provost condemned proposed European Health & Safety legislation that requires the separation of wild animals from humans. 'Nessie is not a wild animal and has never bitten or attacked anyone,' he declared… 'Many people enjoy the Loch Ness area and the authorities should include a suitable gate to allow access to the loch. I am prepared to use the loch at my own risk.' Ella MacRae, the Landlord at Dores Inn, agreed with the Provost and said she would provide a stock of disclaimer forms at the Inn."
Sheep to Mow Wembley Stadium.
The Mirror announced that sheep were going to be used to mow the lawn at Wembley Stadium: "Their grazing will toughen the turf's roots when it is not being regularly used… Players have had less allergic reactions because the natural fertiliser of droppings has reduced the need for chemicals… Wembley National Stadium Ltd said: 'It's based on methods going back centuries. We are not being taken for fools.'"
The Loch Ness Crocodile.
A news article, supposedly from a Scottish paper, circulated online, claiming that a crocodile had been sighted in Loch Ness:
"Several reports of a large unidentified creature seen wading along the Loch edge below the Lip'O'Flora viewpoint (the place where Flora MacDonald helped Rob Roy MacGregor escape the English redcoats) near the present day Clansman hotel have proven to be true. Much as some locals might wish it to be The Loch Ness Monster, it is believed to be a large Floridian crocodile (Crocodylus acutus). It is thought the reptile may be native to southern Florida and has simply drifted along the path of the Atlantic Gulf Stream before finding its new home in Scotland, or be yet another legacy from the British Pet Animals Act of 1951, which saw the release into the wild of many exotic animals by owners who did not have the facilities to be licensed as responsible 'pet' keepers or traders."
The London Telegraph revealed a plan to generate electricity by harnessing the power of fish migrating upstream:
"The project, codenamed 'Finetics', builds on Japanese technology that captures energy from people walking over pressure sensitive mats at train stations.
Research found that a typical salmon, which zips through waters at a top speed of 12 metres (40ft) per second, can over a 100m (330ft) stretch generate enough electricity to make 18 cups of tea, while the more shy rudd will only trigger enough power for three cups.
Multiplied many times over by the millions of fish that thrive in rivers and waters across England and Wales, the Environment Agency scientists estimate the amount of electricity generated could power around 30,000 homes a year."
The article quoted Gavin Roach, "a world-leading specialist in green technologies based at the Université de Poisson d'Avril in Paris," as saying, "The Environment Agency team has made a very exciting breakthrough. Finetics clearly has the potential to create significant amounts of power by simply harnessing the power of nature."
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