The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
 
Monkeys pick cotton, a 19th-century urban legend
Baby Yoga, aka Swinging Your Kid Around Your Head
The Case of the Vanishing Belly Button, 1964
Script of Casablanca rejected, 1982
Cat that walked 3000 miles to find its owners, 1951
Man flies by own lung power, 1934
Jean Gauntt, the Immortal Baby, 1939
The disumbrationist art hoax, 1924
The Great New York Zoo Escape Hoax, 1874
Sober Sue, the woman who never smiled, 1907
The Balbirnie Beast is a St. Bernard
imageThe Beast of Balbirnie is a large creature which is said to roam the country park in Balbirnie, Fife, Scotland. Paw-prints have been found and analysed, and the leading consensus is that they belong to a big cat, such as a lynx or puma. However, one expert believes that the marks were made by a big dog.

Enter Mark Proctor and Bernard the St. Bernard. Mark suggested that the tracks belonged to Bernard, owned by Mark's sister, Lisa, and her husband. He realised that the tracks had been found around the time that they had last been visiting.

He measured Bernard's paws, which seemed to be about the same size as the tracks. He then digitally placed the pawprint on top of the photo of Bernard's paw, and they were a match.

This sparked some interest in the media. First, the story gained column inches in local newspapers, then The Sun, The Daily Mail, and The Daily Express. Full House magazine did a spread on the story. Radio Scotland broadcast an interview with Mark, and both GMTV and BBC News featured the story on television.

The trouble is, Mark had made it all up. He had resized the photograph of Bernard's paw to fit the photo of the cast of the pawprint, and had never planned for his hoax to be spread across the national news. He'd simply started off posting it on his blog forum, and it all sprang from there.

As Mark himself said, if anyone had properly examined his story, they would have found a distinct lack of evidence.

All fees gained from appearances on television and in newspapers have been donated to the shelter at which Lisa found Bernard.

(Thanks, Matt.)
Categories: Animals, Pranks
Posted by Boo on Tue Nov 14, 2006
Comments (9)
They named their St. Bernard "Bernard?" That is so uncreative.
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Tue Nov 14, 2006  at  10:59 AM
I'm with you, Razela. So are my wife, Woman, my children, Boy and Girl, and my pets, Cat, Dog, Goldfish, and Parakeet.
Posted by Big Guy  in  Round Rock, Texas  on  Tue Nov 14, 2006  at  06:25 PM
My President, Bush, agrees as well. Wait, that didn't quite work, did it?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Tue Nov 14, 2006  at  07:01 PM
Not to mention my governor, Kinky.
No, wait he lost the election ...
Posted by Big Gary  in  Kerrville, Texas  on  Tue Nov 14, 2006  at  09:32 PM
They didn't name him, they got him from a rescue home! Theres maybe some appreciation of irony required to truly understand the "uncreativity"!
wink
Posted by Mark  in  Edinburgh  on  Sat Nov 18, 2006  at  04:18 PM
I'm not buying that justification, Mark in Edinburgh.
When you adopt a nameless animal from a shelter or rescue group, what's one of the first things you do? Name your new pet, of course.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Cactus, Texas  on  Sun Nov 19, 2006  at  02:31 PM
:D sigh, he wasn't nameless. and he knew his name... why would you change a dog's name? d'oh...
Posted by Mark  in  Edinburgh  on  Mon Nov 20, 2006  at  04:40 PM
OK, Mark in Edinburgh, but SOMEBODY named the St. Bernard "Bernard," or rather failed to give him another name (besides the generic name of his breed). As Razela observed, "That is so uncreative" on the part of whomever's responsible (whether or not it's the current owners).
Posted by Big Gary  in  Fred, Texas  on  Mon Nov 27, 2006  at  04:12 PM
You guys are so sad, who gives a damn if they wanted to call their saint bernard "Saint" or their labrador "Labrador". What the hell has it got to do with you messed up yanks anyway! U dont understand the intellect of scots humour and wit so sod off!
Posted by Emma  in  Markinch  on  Sat Dec 19, 2009  at  04:38 AM
Commenting is no longer available for this post.
All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.