The Huffington Post has long had one of the quirkier media offices in New York, featuring nap pods, free snacks, beer carts and other perks more reminiscent of a top-flight marketing firm's headquarters than the Astor Place digs of an online news organization.
And now HuffPo is welcoming the newest strange character to the already eclectic cast of its Weird News editorial team. Rather than a hard-hitting investigative reporter or a discerning editor, the new addition is a pacu, often referred to as a "testicle-eating" fish, according to a HuffPo staffer with knowledge of the acquisition.
Quite a bit of attention has been paid to the pacu fish in recent years, as it has turned up in rivers and lakes in Denmark, France, Illinois, Washington state and even northern New Jersey, striking fear into the hearts of anyone considering a dip in those waters (though we really hope no one goes swimming in Passaic County, the Jersey area just outside New York City where the fish has reportedly been spotted).
The pacu is described by biologists as a "cousin" of the famed Amazon River piranha, but despite its odd reputation as a "testicle-eating" fish, it's really fairly harmless. That didn't stop a torrent of news reports suggesting that the fish -- which have strong jaw muscles and teeth and grow quickly to as long as four feet -- will bite off a man's bits like so much fish food, leading the HuffPo to coin the terrifying term "Pacumageddon."
But it seems all the hysteria over pacus -- which have been mistaken by some pet store owners for piranha -- is just another example of media malpractice, as the vegetarian fish eats a wide range of foods including tree nuts, not the ones in men's trousers. The Danish stories suggesting otherwise were based on a joke that was misinterpreted and erroneously spread across the Internet like wildfire.
So while the members of the HuffPo Weird News department may have quite a situation on their hands when the fish grows to its full size, their jewels are probably safe.
Web browsers can check out the Huffington Post's new scaly pet by tuning in to HuffPost Live at 5:45 p.m. Friday, when employees may reveal the animal's name. Some top potential names submitted by readers include Gonad, Testy, Chewy, Pac-Man, Baller and Castro the Castrator. Don't worry, your testes should be safe. And hopefully the pacu won't end up grilled like the unfortunate critter below and served in the HuffPo cafeteria.