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Fake Panda Bear Scandal -- April Fool's Day, 2009
The Taipei Times reported that pandemonium broke out at the Taipei Zoo when it was discovered that the zoo's two panda bears were in fact "Wenzhou brown forest bears that had been dyed to create the panda’s distinctive black-and-white appearance." Suspicions were first raised when it was observed that the bears were spending almost their full waking hours having sex. (Pandas are notorious for their low libido.) This behavior caused chaos among zoo crowds. "Children screamed and parents became irate."

The pandas had been received as a gift from the Chinese government. "Some angrily compared the subterfuge to last year’s contaminated milk scandal, when melamine that had been added to watered-down milk sickened 300,000 victims across China and led to a recall of diary products in countries including Taiwan." Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang was said to have issued a statement: "We understand that our compatriots in Taiwan are very upset. We wish to assure them that we have taken steps to address their concerns. We hope that our Taiwanese friends enjoy the gift of two extremely rare Wenzhou brown forest bears."

The zoo later received a number of complaints about the prank, prompting the zoo director to urge the Taipei Times to "correct this improper story." However, the Taipei Times defended the story, stating that, "April Fools' Day jokes highlight an important aspect of the consumption of media: that readers and viewers should keep a critical mind when they read stories or watch TV."

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.