The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Animals
Breast-Sucking Turtles of Namibia — If you happen to be a young woman in Namibia, watch out for a middle-aged Indian man who may try to strike up a friendship with you. Before too long, he may whip out his breast-sucking turtle. It happened to Lina Sames (link: informante.web.na): Sames, a domestic worker, related how the mysterious man suddenly produced a live turtle, no bigger than the average grown up's hand and pressed the reptile against the victim's right breast. "It proceeded to suck, while at the same time…
Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2012.   Comments (1)

The Annual Overland Whale Migration — I received an email from Peter Barss recounting a 1985 April Fool's Day hoax he was involved in. It's a great story, so I'll let him tell it in his own words: In 1985 the Bridgewater Bulletin had an April Fool's front page. Turn over the bogus page and there was the true front page with the day's news. One reporter created an image of a twelve foot starfish climbing out of the sea and up the side of a fisherman's building. Another wrote a story about an international airport that would…
Posted: Tue Apr 03, 2012.   Comments (3)

Post-Rapture Pet Adoption — For over three years, Eternal Earth-Bound Pets has been offering peace of mind to Rapture believers. Should the Rapture come, and the devout are whisked away up to Heaven, this service will take care of their pets that are left behind — for a small fee of $135 per pet. But now Bloomberg News is reporting that the business was all just a hoax concocted by Bart Centre, a retired retail executive in New Hampshire, in order to promote his book, The Atheist Camel Chronicles. Bloomberg…
Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2012.   Comments (2)

A Bullfighter Repents — The following photo and caption has recently begun to circulate online. It's all over Facebook. "And suddenly, I looked at the bull. He had this innocence... that all animals have in their eyes, and he looked at me with this pleading. It was like a cry for justice, deep down inside of me. I describe it as being like a prayer - because if one confesses, it is hoped, that one is forgiven. I felt like the worst shit on earth."
 This photo shows the collapse of Torrero Alvaro Munera,…
Posted: Wed Mar 07, 2012.   Comments (4)


Woman-Turns-Into-Snake Rumor — Social networking sites in Nigeria have been ablaze with the rumor that a woman turned into a snake at the Hotel Excel in Warri. The proprietor of the hotel, Chief Moses Odeh, has been doing everything he can to put out the rumor, but once these stories get started, they acquire a life of their own. (informationnigeria.org) African rumors still have true strangeness to them. Here in America, the majority of twitter and facebook rumors are fake reports of celebrity deaths... which get…
Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2012.   Comments (7)

The Buxton Mermaid — An old mermaid was recently found, stored in the archives of the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, and a research team from the University of Lincoln decided to examine it. So far they've discovered that its hair is human, its upper body is constructed of wood and wire, its teeth are carved bone, and its eyes are mollusc shell. Future tests will determine what fish its tail came from. (link: BBC News) At first I thought it looked like the Bloomsbury Mermaid (pictured below). But no,…
Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2012.   Comments (6)

The Case of the Spray-Painted Bird — Back in 2009, bird watchers in New Zealand began reporting sightings of a red harrier hawk. There was speculation it was a new species. But in 2010 a hawk was found dead (hit by a car) that had been spray-painted red. So bird watchers realized there was no new species. There was just someone going around spray-painting birds. Suspicion eventually focused on dairy farmer Grant Michael Teahan after a video was uploaded to youtube showing Teahan beside a bird trap covered in red spray…
Posted: Mon Jan 23, 2012.   Comments (3)

Texas Roof Tiger — Add this to the 'Things on Roofs' file: Police in Houston, Texas received reports of a tiger sitting on the roof of an abandoned hotel. The animal was causing a bit of a traffic jam as drivers stopped to look at it. But upon investigation, it turned out to be a toy tiger. I'm assuming it was the work of a prankster, who's now out a pretty nice stuffed animal. Link: BBC News.
Posted: Thu Jan 19, 2012.   Comments (7)

The Fake Death of Cheetah the Chimp — As far as death hoaxes goes, this is a strange one, both because it involves a chimp and also because it's a fake death report of someone who died long ago. The story began last week, around Christmas, when it was reported that Cheetah, the chimp who played Tarzan's sidekick in the 1930s Tarzan films, had died at the ripe old age of 80. He had apparently spent the last decades of his life at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Florida. The cause of death was kidney failure. I remember…
Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2012.   Comments (1)

The Fraser Island Crocodile — The Telegraph recently listed the beach on Queensland's Fraser Island as among the most dangerous in the world. The reasons: sharks, jellyfish, strong rip currents, deadly spiders, the odd saltwater crocodile, and dingoes. But people around Fraser Island disagree. They don't dispute the presence of the sharks, jellyfish, rip currents, spiders, and dingoes. (Though they don't think dingoes are dangerous). But they do insist there are no crocodiles there, except for one — which is fake.
Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2011.   Comments (4)

Cyclops Shark — An albino, one-eyed shark, an image of which started circulating online back in July, has been confirmed by scientists to be real. (Link: livescience.com). Which shouldn't have been a surprise. Like the case of Cy the one-eyed kitten (from back in 2006), the mutant shark suffered from cyclopia. According to messybeast.com, this is a genetic abnormality in which, "the eyes are fused into a single enlarged eye that is placed below the nose (the nose may or may not form, if it forms it…
Posted: Mon Oct 24, 2011.   Comments (3)

The Egg-Laying Dog of Vienna — Recently I read Jan Bondeson's new book, Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities. Bondeson is one of my favorite writers because he's a master at finding incredibly obscure but truly bizarre oddities from history, and he doesn't disappoint in this book. I plan to discuss the book more in a future post, because he's collected a lot of urban legends and hoaxes concerning dogs. For instance, he reveals the story of Greyfriar's Bobby to be a hoax (LaMa has posted about this in the…
Posted: Mon Sep 26, 2011.   Comments (3)

Sussex Zebras — Unidentified pranksters broke into the Sussex Horse Rescue Trust in Uckfield, East Sussex and transformed "Ant" the donkey into a zebra by spray-painting stripes on him (express.co.uk). Ant wasn't hurt in any way, though the spray paint reportedly had a strong, unpleasant smell. The RSPCA condemned the prank: "It's shocking people would think it was funny to spray-paint a donkey in this way. We take reports of animals being painted very seriously." This prank immediately reminded me of…
Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2011.   Comments (2)

Polar Bear Simulacra — The St. Louis Zoo hasn't had much luck keeping its polar bears alive. From riverfronttimes.com: The zoo's last polar bear, Hope, was euthanized in April when veterinarians found it had cancer. In May 2005 another polar bear, named Churchill, ate a fatal helping of cloth and plastic inside its bin and died while undergoing stomach surgery. Five weeks later, a polar bear named Penny died at the zoo from infection. Turns out, she had two dead fetuses inside her uterus, though zoo…
Posted: Wed Nov 18, 2009.   Comments (8)

Snake in drain was a hoax — A man who caught a 14-foot (4.2-meter) python in a Florida drain pipe was charged with perpetrating a hoax after wildlife officers discovered he owned the snake and put it in the pipe in order to stage the capture. Justin Matthews, a professional animal trapper, later admitted that he had "staged the event to call attention to a growing problem of irresponsible pet ownership," the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said on Thursday. Link: Yahoo! News
Posted: Fri Nov 06, 2009.   Comments (0)

Halloween Animal Myths Debunked — Late for Halloween, but still an interesting three-minute diversion. On this Good Morning Yahoo video, a zoo educator from Connecticut's Beardsley zoo debunks some Halloween animal myths: Can the horned owl turn its head all the way around? (No) Are tarantulas deadly? (No) Do bats get caught in your hair? (No, but they do fly close to people's heads to catch mosquitoes.) Are black widows deadly? (No, but they do have strong venom) Do scorpions glow in the dark? (Yes) (Thanks, Big Gary!)
Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009.   Comments (2)

The Montgomery Animal Shelter Isn’t Closing — From nj.com: If you want to bombard a township with calls from angry people, start a rumor that cats and dogs are going to die. That's exactly what happened Tuesday and today, when an Internet rumor claiming the local animal shelter in Montgomery was going to close and all cats and dogs remaining there would be euthanized. And it happened across the country, too, as a viral rumor with countless incarnations made similar claims about shelters in communities named Montgomery. Only one…
Posted: Wed Sep 23, 2009.   Comments (3)

Is this fish a world record or a cheat? — From Wired.com: On September 5, Saskatchewan fisherman Sean Konrad caught a 48-pound, world-record rainbow trout. The fish came from Lake Diefenbaker, where trout genetically engineered to grow extra-big escaped from a fish farm nine years ago... Technically known as triploids, they’re designed with three sets of chromosomes, making them sterile and channeling energies normally spent reproducing towards growth. In 2007, on a message board of the International Game Fish Association, the…
Posted: Mon Sep 21, 2009.   Comments (14)

The Phantom Dog Poisoner — Dog owners in the town of Basildon are concerned that someone may be trying to poison their pets. They've organized meetings to discuss the danger. Not that any dogs have been poisoned so far. No one has even seen any signs of poison around. But an email rumor has everyone spooked.
Posted: Tue Sep 08, 2009.   Comments (4)

Barbecued Cats? — After receiving a complaint that some residents of a Houston apartment complex were barbecuing stray cats, the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Control investigated but determined the complaint was a hoax. But their conclusion isn't that reassuring, because after analyzing bone fragments from nearby dumpsters, the bureau did find that "There are animals that have been consumed that are similar to the size and structure of a cat." So, if not cats, what were these animals that were…
Posted: Thu Jun 18, 2009.   Comments (11)

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