Ambiguous April Fools

Every year on April 1st there are a few news items that stump me. Are they, or are they not, April Fools? Here are the puzzlers from this year:

Virgin's Animal Active gym for pets
The video for it looks like a spoof, and the language of the press release sounds kind of jokey:
The health club, which is being called Animal Active, is scheduled to open its doors later this year and will 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.

At first I assumed it was a joke, but the weird-news expert Chuck Shepherd pointed out to me, "If it's fake, it's not all that original, for there are several pet spas in the U.S. and Britain that have regimens for overweight pets, and there are certainly treadmill rehab programs for injured animals." Plus, there's still no indication from Virgin that it was a joke. So maybe it's real.

The Invisible Lapland Tree House
As reported in The Sun, this is a new hotel in Lapland that consists of a box made of aluminum and covered in mirrored glass, that's perched in a tree.
The mirrored walls are specially designed to make the walls disappear into the landscape by reflecting the woodland canopy surrounding them. Visitors have to climb into their room by a rope ladder.

Doesn't sound implausible. And there are none of the usual clues (such as names that are anagrams of April Fool). But on the other hand, the picture looks photoshopped, this story hasn't been reported by anyone else, and the last line reads like a joke: "If the guests can actually find it, it should be very successful." Probably fake.

Masturbation Relieves Hay Fever
New Scientist reported that "Masturbation could bring hay fever relief for men." It's an odd story, and even odder to report it on April 1st. But this same story was also making the rounds back in Sep 2008, when it first appeared in The Journal of Medical Hypotheses. So I'm concluding that it's not an April Fool.

April Fools Day

Posted on Thu Apr 02, 2009


Well, the picture of the treehouse most certainly seems to be fake; the sun is behind and to the left of the photographer, and is also in the same orientation in the reflections. The trees in the reflections should have their shaded sides appearing, not their sunny sides.

But that doesn't mean that the hotel doesn't exist. Computer-generated concept images aren't anything new for real buildings.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Thu Apr 02, 2009  at  07:02 PM
Works for me,,,,,,,(achoooo)
Posted by Canadarm  on  Thu Apr 02, 2009  at  11:01 PM
The hotel is a real concept, but has apparently not been built yet. See (filed under Now - Harads).
Posted by nasobem  in  Switzerland  on  Fri Apr 03, 2009  at  03:17 AM
yes, it's true... it relieves pressure on the proboscate gland... you're welcome
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Fri Apr 03, 2009  at  10:35 AM
There was a similar tale to the Lapp hotel here - Strange adverts appearred in NZ papers and on TV about a local sub-celeb musician who claimed to be organising a restaurant to be built up a redwood north of Auckland using only the Yellow Pages and Internet to get the designers, materials and staff together. Nobody believed it . . .

. . . Until it opened in February this year Though the prices are pretty unreal, it does exist - open only during good weather though.
Posted by D F Stuckey  in  Auckland New Zealand  on  Sat Apr 04, 2009  at  01:16 AM
ambit energy,,,ummm,,,,,wtf????
Posted by Canadarm  on  Sat Apr 04, 2009  at  08:18 PM
I think they meant to say 'ambient energy' - A fancy way of describing heat-pump based generators.

Clearly, Apu or whomever isn't reading their script very well . . . smile
Posted by D F Stuckey  in  Auckland New Zealand  on  Sat Apr 04, 2009  at  09:10 PM
Well there is a Swedish artist who like to construct odd miniature hotels and odd spaces,, it does sound like something he would do, so it could actually be true. But, call me a prejudices
Posted by Inga ;)  in  Sweden  on  Thu Apr 09, 2009  at  12:09 AM
the hotel is real, or at least close. these are extensively used as hunting blinds, they even have roll-up portable models as well as the large ones shown in the photo.

i own a smaller one, they work great, the walls are angled slightly so the sky doesn't reflect.
Posted by carter  in  utah, USA  on  Tue Sep 01, 2009  at  04:16 PM
Here's a website which pre-dates this very April 2nd, 2009 entry, as it was posted in February of last year:

It includes unit plans and an explanation of how the space within would be used.
Posted by Val  in  California, USA  on  Tue Apr 06, 2010  at  10:16 PM
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