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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Animals
The Fake Death of Cheetah the Chimp
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jan 01, 2012
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 seeing the headlines about the death and thinking it was odd a chimp could live that long. And sure enough, primate experts…
Categories: Animals, Death Comments (1)
The Fraser Island Crocodile
Posted by The Curator on Tue Oct 25, 2011
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. One of the locals owns a fake, but realistic-looking crocodile that he sometimes puts on the beach. Back in 2006 this crocodile made headlines in the Fraser Coast Chronicle when it scared some…
Categories: Animals, Places Comments (4)
Cyclops Shark
Posted by The Curator on Mon Oct 24, 2011
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 resembles a proboscis)." One-eyed creatures are one of those phenomena that fit into the rule that sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. In…
Categories: Animals Comments (3)
The Egg-Laying Dog of Vienna
Posted by The Curator on Mon Sep 26, 2011
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 forum). But for now what I want to share is a story he mentions in his first chapter (page 11) about a dog that could supposedly lay eggs. He writes: …
Categories: Animals, Birth/Babies Comments (3)
Sussex Zebras
Posted by The Curator on Thu Sep 22, 2011
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 the tradition of Tijuana Zebras, which I last posted about back in 2006. I noted then that the Tijuana tradition of painting donkeys to look like zebras was dying out, but…
Categories: Animals, Pranks Comments (2)
Polar Bear Simulacra
Posted by The Curator on Wed Nov 18, 2009
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 officials didn't know she was pregnant. Their solution has…
Categories: Animals, Technology Comments (8)
Snake in drain was a hoax
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 06, 2009
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
Categories: Animals Comments (0)
Halloween Animal Myths Debunked
Posted by The Curator on Tue Nov 03, 2009
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!)
Categories: Animals Comments (2)
The Montgomery Animal Shelter Isn’t Closing
Posted by The Curator on Wed Sep 23, 2009
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 shelter, located in a Texas County by the same name, is closing and its operator was working to find homes for all the pets, according to a local newspaper there.(Thanks,…
Categories: Animals, Urban Legends Comments (3)
Is this fish a world record or a cheat?
Posted by The Curator on Mon Sep 21, 2009
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 angling world’s record- and ethics-keeping body, some fishermen argued that triploids were unnatural, as divorced from the sport’s history…
Categories: Animals, Sports Comments (14)
The Phantom Dog Poisoner
Posted by The Curator on Tue Sep 08, 2009
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.
Categories: Animals, Urban Legends Comments (4)
Barbecued Cats?
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jun 18, 2009
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 consumed? Small dogs? Giant rats? Chupacabras? Also, this is news to me. According to Texas Penal Code 49.02, it's legal to cook and eat cats "as long as it's a wild or stray cat…
Categories: Animals, Law/Police/Crime Comments (11)
The South American Reetsa Expedition
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jun 10, 2009
If you're well-versed in hoax lore, you might have heard the story of the South American Reetsa Expedition. It's a hoax attributed to the New York City prankster Brian G. Hughes, who was active as a hoaxer from around 1895 to 1910. (He died in 1924.) He pulled off quite a few hoaxes. Around 1895 he submitted a cat to the New York cat show, claiming it was a rare breed known as the Dublin Brindle. After it won a prize, he revealed it was just an alley cat. A few years later he tried a similar stunt at a horse show, submitting a horse named Puldeca Orphan. It was really a street-car horse from the railway…
Categories: Animals, Pranks Comments (6)
Dolphins vs. Pirates
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 16, 2009
China's official news agency, Xinhua, is claiming that thousands of dolphins spontaneously decided to protect a fleet of Chinese merchant ships that were being attacked by Somali pirates: The Chinese merchant ships escorted by a China’s fleet sailed on the Gulf of Aden when they met some suspected pirate ships. Thousands of dolphins suddenly leaped out of water between pirates and merchants when the pirate ships headed for the China’s. The suspected pirates ships stopped and then turned away. The pirates could only lament their littleness befor the vast number of dolphins. The spectacular…
Categories: Animals, Military Comments (4)
Enforcer Skunks
Posted by The Curator on Wed Apr 08, 2009
There's a lot of speculation in the town of York, New Hampshire Maine about the skunk signs that were placed on many traffic-enforcement signs on April 1st. The signs feature hand-painted, smiling skunks wearing yellow sashes with the word "Enforcer" painted on. The signs also have a drawing of a zebra with the statement, "Whoever says they did it, didn't do it." When asked if the police were going to be contacted, Community Development Director Steve Burns said, "They're our No. 1 suspect." After collecting all the signs, Burns received a mysterious note made from words cut out of newspapers: "Honorary special agent Burns, enforcer skunks in your protective custody ... Be watchful.…
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