"Please to Admit the Bearer and friend, to view the ANNUAL CEREMONY OF WASHING THE LIONS on Wednesday, April 1st, 1857."
Pranksters handed out these cards on the streets of London to unsuspecting out-of-towners. The joke was that there was no lion-washing ceremony at the Tower of London. By 1857, there weren't even lions at the Tower. Versions of this prank had been regularly perpetrated since the 17th century, making it the oldest April Fool's Day joke on record.
Several hundred people showed up at the gates of the London Zoological Society demanding entrance in order to see the "procession of the animals." However, the Society was closed that day, it being Easter Sunday, and the guard refused to admit them. The members of the crowd insistently showed the guard their tickets and again demanded entrance. The tickets, which had cost them one penny each (considerably cheaper than the usual sixpence admission), read:
Subscribers Tickets—Admit bearer to the Zoological gardens on Easter Sunday. The procession of the animals will take place at 3 o'clock, and this ticket will not be available after that hour.—J.C. Wildboar, Secretary.
The guard explained that the tickets were not valid, and that they were all victims of an april fool's day prank. Upon hearing this, the crowd grew restless, insisting loudly that they had paid their admission and were determined to see the animals of the zoo all walk in procession. Before the situation became out of hand, an extra force of constables arrived and dispersed the crowd.
The Zoological Society investigated the situation and discovered that the tickets had been sold by Mrs. Sarah Marks, a bookseller. The Society pressed charges against her, but withdrew them when she wrote a letter apologizing for her behavior.
On March 31st, 1864, the Evening Star
of Islington announced that a "grand exhibition of donkeys" would be held the next day at the Agricultural Hall. Early the next morning a large crowd gathered outside of the hall. Slowly it dawned on them that they themselves were the donkeys.
Edith Walrach, a nineteen-year-old woman of a "very nervous temperament" was in serious condition as a result of an April Fool's Day joke that went bad. While visiting friends in Binghampton, New York, a practical joker "procured a small live mouse, which he put in an egg-shell, covering the opening with plaster of Paris. This was brought in with the breakfast and when Miss Walrach broke the shell and the liberated mouse jumped out she screamed and fainted away. During the day she had three nervous fits, and her physician pronounced her condition critical." The young man was wild with grief. He was her fiancee. [Fort Wayne Evening Sentinel
, Apr 3, 1900]
The Los Angeles Times
reported that the Selig Zoo, in east LA, was swamped by calls on April 1. "Messages were left on various temporarily vacated desks in town and requests were made over phones to the unwary to ring up Dr. Lyon, Mr. Bear, Mrs. Fox, Miss Wolf and the Widow Campbell. Several people even were trying to locate certains Miss Cats. The only animals which escaped attention during the day were Mr. Hippopotamus, Mrs. Rhinoceros and Miss Elephant, who are too big to answer calls, over the wire anyhow." [Los Angeles Times
, Apr 4, 1920.]
(No calls for Mrs. Rhinoceros or Miss Elephant? Had people not heard of Ryna Soris and Elle Font back in 1920?)
In an effort to sidestep the flood of calls asking for Mr. Fish, the New York aquarium asked the telephone company to disconnect their service for the day. [Oakland Tribune
, Apr 1, 1925.]
"Charleston, R.I.—Dr. Harold Sand's pet oyster-eating hippo escapes from backyard." [Life
, Mar 22, 1937.]
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin
reported that Norwegian scientist Dr. Thorkel Gellison (an authority on prevaricana) caught the largest fish ever recorded while on holiday in Hawaii. He took the fish, which was of the species Gellisoni Fabricata, "with ordinary Mason & Dixon line, with a leader of Associated Press wire."
The gigantic fish was later exhibited to cheering thousands in a parade through downtown Honolulu, while Dr. Gellison sat atop the fish, waving to his admirers.
The San Antonio Light
reported that San Antonians were barricading themselves indoors after 13 lions escaped from the zoo and were "spreading terror" throughout the city. The paper's "intrepid photographer" supplied a picture of the beasts prowling loose outside of the downtown Municipal Auditorium.
later reported that its switchboard operator "got over 200 calls on the lions in front of the auditorium picture alone asking whether the felines had been captured. One man wouldn't believe it was a joke, saying, 'You can't fool me. I saw the lions in the picture and pictures are one thing that don't lie.'"
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.
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin
reported that Hawaii would no longer face a shortage of fish, thanks to Norwegian scientist Thorkel Gellison who had trained squid to catch fish and bring them back to shore. A single one of Gellison's squids could bring in a dozen fish every 30 minutes, and his school of 100 trained squid could easily supply several tons of fish daily.
Phil Shone, a New Zealand deejay for radio station 1ZB, told his listeners that a mile-wide wasp swarm was headed towards Auckland and urged them to take a variety of steps to protect themselves and their homes from the winged menace. He suggested that they wear their socks over their trousers when they left for work, and that they leave honey-smeared traps outside their doors. Hundreds of people dutifully heeded his advice, until he finally admitted that it had all been a joke.
The New Zealand Broadcasting Service was not amused by Shone's prank. Its director, Professor James Shelley, denounced the hoax on the grounds that it undermined the rules of proper broadcasting. From then on, a memo was sent out each year before April Fool's Day reminding New Zealand radio stations of their obligation to report the truth, and nothing but the truth.
In the days leading up to April 1st, notices appeared in Frankfurt papers informing the public that a legendary "snow-white elephant" from Burma would, for a few days only, be on display at the zoo. It was en route to the Copenhagen Zoo, which was to be its permanent home, accompanied by its Burmese handlers, who were dressed in their traditional robes and head coverings.
On April 1st, over 1000 Frankfurters turned out to see the white elephant, paying a mark each. And they did see a white elephant, but it was a regular female Indian elephant that had been painted white. However, the majority of the audience didn't realize this. They learned the trick later by reading about it in the papers.
"This horse has been shown throughout the world to millions in order to convince them that a two-headed horse exists. It will participate in the Alamance Saddle Club horse show on April 26. Miss McLeod believes two heads are better than one because in some previous close races, Ichabod has been able to turn one head to watch the opposition from behind while his other head is turned forward to keep pace with the horses ahead." [The Burlington (N.C.) Daily Times-News
- Apr 1, 1952]
The Billings Gazette
reported that a local resident had trained his goldfish to communicate by means of bubbles. Two bubbles meant 'No.' One bubble meant 'Yes.' Although sometimes the goldfish gave incorrect answers. For instance, when asked if he was a fake talking fish, the goldfish produced one bubble. [The Billings Gazette
- Apr 1, 1956]
"What's This? — Gail Speicher gives her French poodle 'Domino' an airing. But wait a minute ... that's no poodle! Seems like anything can happen today. It's April Fool."
[Lebanon Daily News
- Apr 1, 1959]
A photographer for the Great Bend Tribune
placed a fake snake on the pavement in downtown Great Bend and then hid in a car to capture people's candid reactions:
"Twice boys tried to steal the reptile, and the Tribune photographer had to reveal himself these times to save the snake. One old man kicked at it, but did no damage. Many of the pedestrians walked within inches of the creature without ever noticiing it, proving that a real Python could sun himself at Broadway and Main without disturbing too many residents.
The best picture of all was ruined. A group of girls walked within a foot of the reptile before one of them noticed it. They all jumped and screamed. But it so startled the photographer that he moved the camera, spoiling the picture."
Wire services reported a variety of April Fool's Day hoaxes perpetrated by the Polish media. One newspaper reported that a herd of thirty bison was marching on Warsaw; another that Buckingham Palace sentries were to be allowed to lick ice cream cones on duty. A third paper reported that gasoline stations were being converted into underground milk tanks in order to ensure a supply of cold milk during the summer.
The New York Times
reported that "The Bronx Botanical and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens are awaiting, wearily, their usual calls for Messrs Astor, Bush and Flower, and the Planetarium the usual requests for Mr. McCloud or Mr. Starr." However, the employees of the Bronx Zoo and the Coney Island Aquarium were given secret numbers to use, so that all calls to the regular numbers could be intercepted by the telephone company, "and the joke victims told the hard truth." The telephone company estimated that it intercepted well over 5000 prank calls. [New York Times
, Apr 1, 1959.]
Bill Taylor of Oklahoma City celebrated his birthday every year on April 1st. As a consequence, he noted, he always received an "off brand gift." On April 1, 1960 he turned 40. He woke to find a large box on his front porch. Inside was a 40-pound pig wrapped in a pink ribbon and bow. He announced, "I'll just have that porker barbecued." [Newark Advocate
- Apr 2, 1960.]
George Morris of Safford, Arizona woke to find a full-grown elephant eating lilies in his backyard. He assumed it had to be some kind of elaborate April Fool’s Day joke. It wasn’t. But when he called the police to report the animal to them, they initially refused to believe he was telling the truth. Finally they sent over some officers. It turned out that “Dumbo” had been accidentally left behind by a circus that had pulled up stakes the night before. The circus was notified and a van was sent to pick up Dumbo. [The Ada Evening News
- Apr 3, 1960.]
Milan's La Notte
newspaper reported that city authorities had passed a law making it mandatory for horses to be outfitted with signaling and brake lights while being ridden through the streets or neighboring countryside. Many people subsequently brought their horses into car mechanics to have them outfitted with the necessary lights.
An image distributed by news services that appeared to show a dentist removing a lion's tooth. The image was actually a photomontage.
The Copenhagen newspaper Politiken
reported that a new law had been proposed in the Danish parliament that would require all black dogs to be painted white. The purpose of this was supposedly to increase road safety by allowing the dogs to be seen more easily at night. However, opposition parties were said to have loudly condemned the proposal as "another step towards socialism and conformism," and expressed the suspicion that the law had only been put forward because of pressure from the painters' union.
"Revealed today was this new breed of cow developed by renowned area dairyman, Lirpa Loof of Old Bennington. County Agent John Page heralds the new breed to be known as the 'Front Ender' as a distinct boon to the dairy industry, noting farmers must continually strive to develop new ways of doing old things. John DeVito, local ACP director, praised the butterfat content of the 'Front Ender's' milk, in noting that 'It's what's up front that counts.'"
- Apr 1, 1968]
"This handsome Holstein, owned by Marvin Vaerst of rural Bemidji, has her directions mixed up. Unlike most cows, she has her milking apparatus to the fore, rather than aft — a condition which has won her entry in Ripley's 'Believe It or Not' and a feature in the national Holstein magazine, 'Cow'. The bovine beauty, despite her peculiarities, has been pronounced fit by veterinarians and Vaerst claims she is one of the best milk producers in his herd. There are some difficulties with 'Confused Cathy', as Vaerst calls her: at calving time, her offspring usually heads to the wrong end for nourishment and has to be taught where dinner can be found. (Pioneer Photo by Lirpa Loof)" [Bemidji Daily Pioneer
- Apr 1, 1971]
Newspapers around the world announced that the dead body of the Loch Ness Monster had been found. A team of zoologists from Yorkshire's Flamingo Park Zoo, who were at Loch Ness searching for proof of Nessie's existence, had discovered the carcass floating in the water the day before. Initial reports claimed it weighed a ton and a half and was 15½ feet long. The zoologists placed the body in their van and began transporting it back to the zoo, but the local police chased them down and stopped them, citing a 1933 act of Parliament prohibiting the removal of "unidentified creatures" from Loch Ness.
The police took the body to Dunfermline for examination, where scientists soon threw cold water on the theory that the creature was the Loch Ness Monster. It turned out to be a bull elephant seal from the South Atlantic. The next day, the Flamingo Park's education officer, John Shields, confessed he had been responsible for placing the body in the Loch. The seal had died the week before at Dudley Zoo. He had shaved off its whiskers, padded its cheeks with stones, and kept it frozen for a week, before dumping it in the Loch. Then he phoned in a tip to make sure his colleagues found it. He had meant to play an April Fool's prank on his colleagues, but admitted the joke got out of hand when the police chased down their van. The seal's body was displayed at the Flamingo Park Zoo for a few days before being properly disposed of.
The Cincinnati Zoo reported receiving over 1000 calls from pranksters (or victims of pranksters) on April 1st. There were 224 calls specifically asking for "Mr. Lion." In anticipation of the calls, the zoo had given the job of answering the telephone to six girl members of the Junior Zoologist Club:
Linda King, one of the club members, said she received one call for President Nixon and another from someone wanting to know if "Batman was fighting the Penguin." Then there were callers who had been duped into calling the zoo number thinking they were calling someone else. The owner of a blacktopping firm called saying he had been asked to telephone about a "seal job." A department store clerk called to say the handkerchief order was ready for "Mrs Lion" to pick up. Another woman reportedly became upset when she thought she had been calling an exclusive downtown store about girdles.
The April 1972 issue of the British Veterinary Record
contained an article about the diseases of Brunus edwardii
(aka Teddy Bear), which was described as a species "commonly kept in homes in the United Kingdom and other countries in Europe and North America." The article warned:
"63.8 percent of households are inhabited by one or more of these animals... The public health implications of this fact are obvious, and it is imperative that more be known about their diseases."
For months afterwards the correspondence section of the journal was dominated by letters about Brunus edwardii
The Toronto Star
printed on its front page a picture of King Kong hanging from the top of the CN Tower, which at the time was nearing completion. (It opened to the public in June 1976.) In a nod to the original movie, Carmen Nigro, who claimed to have played King Kong in the 1933 film (although a rubber model was used in most shots) was inside the ape costume.
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 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.
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 South African Johannesburg Star
ran a story exposing an illicit ring of rat furriers. It said the police had raided a sewer where the ratters were breeding a special strain of imported Irish rats and selling the pelts as mink, seal skin, and other furs. Hundreds of rat fur coats had been sold. Women were warned that if their coats smelled fishy, they were probably made of rat fur. As a result of the story, furriers were besieged with calls from worried customers. After receiving complaints, the Star
reminded its readers that the story had been run on April 1st.
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, anyone foolish enough to believe all this deserves to be eaten."
MIT's Technology Review
published an article titled "Retrobreeding the Woolly Mammoth" that described an effort by Soviet scientists, led by Dr. Sverbighooze Yasmilov, to insert DNA from woolly mammoths found frozen in Siberian ice into elephant cells. The cells would then be brought to term inside elephant surrogate mothers. Many members of the media believed the report to be real.
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.
Cologne radio station Westdeutsche Rundfunk announced that city officals had decreed that joggers could only run at a maximum speed of six miles per hour through the city's parks. Any faster, it was said, and they would inconvenience the squirrels who were in the middle of their mating season.
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 bird saw it, it dived beak-first into the sand.'
As the photographer moved in to take his historic picture, the lion began to roar and the tribesmen bellowed their victory chant.
'Yet through it all,' said Bloom, 'the ostrich remained immobile, head buried, apparently convinced it had become invisible.
'At least I didn't have to ask it to keep still for the camera.'"
Residents of Glendale and Peoria, Arizona woke to find yellow fliers posted around their neighborhoods warning them of "Operation Killer Bees." Apparently, there was to be widespread aerial spraying later that day to eradicate a killer bee population that had made its way into the area. Residents were warned to stay indoors from 9 am until 2:30 pm. The phone numbers of local television and radio stations were provided. On the bottom of the flier the name of an official government agency was listed: Arizona Pest Removal Information Line (For Outside Operations Listings). The first letters of this agency spelled out "April Fool." Few people got the joke. Radio and television stations received numerous calls, as did the Arizona Agriculture Department. Many worried residents stayed inside all day, watching anxiously for the pest-control planes.
BMW announced a new feature for its cars — WAIL, which stood for "Wildlife Acoustic Information Link." It was a device designed to prevent animals from becoming roadkill by emitting high-pitched soundwaves (inaudible to human ears, but audible to animals) that sent critters scurrying out of the way:
"This operates on the same ultrasonic echo-sounding principle as BMW's Park Distance Control System. Sonic waves are emitted from the front bumper producing a warning call which alerts stray animals to the approaching car. This then encourages them to jump in the nearest hedgerow."
reported that Florida researchers had developed a Viagra-like pill to treat sexually frustrated pets, including hamsters. Veterinarians were said to have greeted the news with derision, but the article pointed out that there are few things as sad as a pet suffering from feelings of sexual inadequacy, noting that "It's not unknown for a guinea pig to sit in its cage thinking, 'I haven't had sex for months. Am I so unattractive?'"
Owners were instructed to grind the pills up and sprinkle them in the pet's food. Laying some newspaper down on the floor once the pills began to take effect was also advised. The pills were to be marketed under the brand name Feralmone.
Virgin Atlantic announced plans to print ads on butterflies:
"Dr Antonia Monteiro at SUNY Buffalo is developing a genetic modification method that would allow companies to put markings such as logos on butterflies by scanning their wings with a laser beam. Virgin is confident that butterfly advertising will become a successful and popular new medium for airlines… Virgin executives say they hope to launch the butterfly program by the spring, allowing time for final testing and lasering of the Virgin logo on the butterflies."
NPR's All Things Considered reported
that the Bush administration had proposed extending universal health care to pets. The measure was designed to assist all animals, including "Your dog, your cat, your iguana, your great komodo dragon."
However, the proposal was meeting with opposition. James Cardigan, spokesman for the group People Are People Too, feared the government could get tangled in massive legal liability by letting nature simply take its course. For example, "what if a hamster covered by federal health care is eaten by a snake also covered by the federal government?"
Universal pet health care was estimated to cost $345-trillion.
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.
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."
British Waterways released a study claiming that a study conducted by Dr. Olaf Priol had found that ducks who lived on canals weighed, on average, a pound more than ducks who lived on rivers. The slow-moving canal water apparently provided the ducks with less opportunity for exercise, and so they gained weight.
The study had an embargo date of April 1st (meaning the media was not supposed to make it public until then), but reporter Declan Curry of BBC Business News, not recognizing the study as a joke, broke the embargo and discussed it on-air on March 30th.
Tokyo's Ueno Zoo announced that it had discovered a remarkable new species of penguin: A giant-sized creature called the Tonosama (Lord) Penguin, 165cm-tall and weighing 80kg. Its favorite food was "white fish meat with soy sauce." The giant penguin was revealed to the public on April 1, eliciting the following reaction from the other penguins:
"As the cameras rolled, the real penguins rose their beaks and gazed up at the purported Lord - but then walked away disinterested when he took off his penguin face to reveal himself to be zoo director Teruyuki Komiya."
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 Sun reported
that a penguin had been spotted wandering along the banks of the River Thames:
"It is believed to be the first time a penguin has been spotted in the Thames and comes weeks after tragic Wally the Whale got stranded... Experts said the penguin, normally seen at the South Pole, may have been released into UK waters by fishermen who accidentally snared him... Marine biologist Lil Faroop said: 'It looks like a Jackass. They feed on sprats and fly through the water at five miles (eight kilometres) per hour. They have a donkey-like bray.'"
detailed the work of Dr. Ewe Noh-Watt of the New Zealand Institute of Veterinary Climatology, who had discovered that global warming was caused not by a buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but rather by the decline of New Zealand's sheep population. The reasoning was that sheep are white, and therefore large numbers of sheep increased the planet's albedo (the amount of sunlight reflected back into space). As the sheep population declined, the ground absorbed more solar radiation, thus warming the planet: "It can be seen that the recent warming can be explained entirely by the decline in the New Zealand sheep population, without any need to bring in any mysterious so-called 'radiative forcing' from carbon dioxide, which doesn't affect the sunlight (hardly) anyway — unlike Sheep Albedo."
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 Daily Mirror
reported that online bookmaker Blue Square, inspired by the popularity of ITV's Dancing On Ice
and trying to boost the popularity of greyhound racing, had organized a "Dogs on Ice" event:
"There have been concerns that the new sport might be in some way cruel, although reports from trial runs, suggest that the dogs really love it. They have to wear special non-slip shoes, but there have still been occasions when one has slid into the crash barriers which ring the track. Organisers are talking to animal rights activists to get them on board before the big launch."
The BBC announced that camera crews filming near the Antarctic for its natural history series Miracles of Evolution
had captured footage of Adélie penguins taking to the air. It offered a video clip
of these flying penguins, which became one of the most viewed videos on the internet.
Presenter Terry Jones explained that, instead of huddling together to endure the Antarctic winter, these penguins took to the air and flew thousands of miles to the rainforests of South America where they "spend the winter basking in the tropical sun." A follow-up video
explained how the BBC created the special effects of the flying penguins.
The London Times ran a photo of "tartan sheep" said to have been bred by Grant Bell of West Barns, East Lothian. However, the Times warned, "Before you complain of being fleeced, check out the baa-code for today's date."
The Taipei Times
reported that pandemonium broke out at the Taipei Zoo when it was discovered that the zoo's two panda bears, received as a gift from China, were fakes. They were really "Wenzhou brown forest bears that had been dyed to create the panda's distinctive black-and-white appearance." The fraudulent pandas prompted comparisons to the recent contaminated milk scandal, in which milk watered-down with melamine had sickened 300,000 victims across China.
Turtle Wax announced
that in order to improve its product it had decided to remove all its turtles from battery farms and allow them to go free range:
"The turtle shell extract is the unique ingredient that makes Turtle Wax products last longer and provide improved shine and protection. Increased exposure to the outside elements is proven to enhance the rigidity of the carapace (upper shell) and ultimately, the hardening of the shell improves the overall performance of the wax.
For that reason (and obviously to ensure our turtles enjoy their lives more) we've gone free range and moved all of our turtles from battery farms into outdoor pens."
Virgin Active, Sir Richard Branson's health club chain, announced it would be opening the UK's first-ever animal-only gym, Animal Active. It would be "a haven for animals in need of exercise or lifestyle management."
"Trained exercise co-ordinators will run a series of group exercise classes which will include Pooch Paunch Buster, Puuuroebics, Wag Attack, Canine Crunch and Pawlates. There will also be a weigh-in area for all pet owners to come and check the weight of their pet. A full time vet and pet nutritionist will also be on hand to answer any health and diet queries."
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."
Anticipating the annual flood of prank calls on April 1st, the Blank Park Zoo
in Des Moines set up four hotlines that pranksters were invited to use. The hotlines were for "Mr. Albert Ross," "Mr. C. Lyon," "Ms. Anna Conda," and "Mr. Don Key." Each hotline played a prerecorded message to let callers know they'd been fooled.
Residents of Mousehole, Cornwall woke to find their town had been overrun by knitted mice. The small, woolen rodents lined the harbor and perched atop handrails. Each mouse had a note attached, "If you like me, please feel free to keep me." A group calling itself the Graffiti Grannys took credit for the prank. They were a group of women, ranging in age from their mid-40s to 96, who loved to knit and loved to share their work. They explained that their motive for unleashing yarny creatures upon Mousehole was simply to make people smile.
In the wake of several videos appearing online showing people being savagely attacked by butterflies, Qualcomm convened a press conference to explain that the victims had recently stolen prototypes of its Mirasol displays which used technology that mimicked the reflection of light off of butterfly wings. The displays apparently triggered aggression among wild butterflies.
However, a Qualcomm representative stressed that the current displays were completely safe.
Pedigree pretended to sell Doggie Dentures, a product previously featured jokingly in its ad for Dentastix dog treats, on a live shopping channel (Ideal World). Anyone who called the onscreen number or went to www.doggiedentures.co.uk
was told, 'dogs don't want dentures, they want Pedigree Dentastix'.
Ikea Australia introduced the HUNDSTOL Highchair for Dogs, as part of an effort "to accommodate the growing demand for furniture that reflects today's modern family." The chair was designed with the dog's comfort in mind, with a hole in the back of the chair for the tail, and paw grips on the seat for stability. Two inset bowls could be easily removed for washing.
Fresh Step announced the introduction of Organic Bacon-scented cat litter
: "The power of activated carbon meets the scrumptious scent of freshly cooked bacon."
Television channel France 3
revealed that the French government planned to release giant pandas in the Pyrenees, as part of the continuing reintroduction of bears to the region. Negotiations with the Chinese government were ongoing, but it was hoped that the first panda pair could be introduced in the spring of 2014.
Of course, pandas eat mainly bamboo. This was seen as a positive, as it meant the pandas were unlikely to attack farm animals. However, bamboo is not found in the pyrenees. Therefore, the plan was to use a helicopter to fly several tons of bamboo to the pandas every week.
The U.S. Army announced
the launch of a "Military Working Cat Program" at the Old Guard in Virginia. Cats would work alongside military police, assisting them with narcotics detection, tracking criminals, and taking down criminals.
The program sought to take advantage of the olfactory and hearing prowess of cats, which is superior to that of both humans and dogs. Unfortunately the program had gotten off to a rocky start, with a lot of soldiers "scratched up pretty badly." However, one cat, Gino, had already successfully graduated from the program.
Sony unveiled the "Animalia Line of Tech Products for Pets." The line included M3-OW KittyCans (headphones for cats), K9 4K TV (television for dogs), and In-Cage Speakers for hamsters.
A Sony representative explained, "Now that there are more households with pets than with children, we are targeting pet owners who want to provide unique entertainment experiences for their furry, four-legged family members."
Robert Siegel, of NPR's All Things Considered
, reported on an effort to record the experiences of U.S. Navy dolphins
in their own words. The dolphins were aquatic veterans housed in a home for retired dolphins in landlocked Belleville, Illinois. Graduate students prompted the dolphins to speak by feeding them fish and then recorded their chatter with underwater microphones.
However, project curator Cory Storr admitted, "We have no (bleep) idea what these dolphins are saying. They could just be shooting the (bleep) or singing or talking smack about seals. We have no idea."