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April Fools' Day 2016: Star Trek tribble-breeding program underway at Smithsonian

Few alien species are capable of killing you with cuteness, but the Smithsonian may be getting in deep with an April Fools' experimental breeding program for tribbles.

Things are already getting out of hand at the Smithsonian.
Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

The 1967 original Star Trek series episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" introduced the universe to a new kind of alien threat: adorable fuzzballs with a knack for reproducing in mass. Tribbles make soothing cooing and purring noises. They hate Klingons. They eat a lot. And they make babies. Lots and lots of furry babies.

For April Fools' Day, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in the US announced a tribble-breeding program, saying it would allow "museum specialists to study the galaxy's most adorable ecological disaster in greater detail than ever before."

The "breeding stock" comes from a selection of original television props donated to the Smithsonian in 1973. The prank is timed to celebrate Star Trek's 50th anniversary. The original series first debuted on television in 1966.

The program is scheduled to run for a single day. A Smithsonian live video feed shows the tribbles as they multiply inside a clear box and staff members scoop out individual specimens in an attempt to keep up with the propagation overdrive.

A straight-faced video announcement talks about the details of the breeding program. General J.R. "Jack" Dailey, director of the museum, discusses the trial, saying, "I was skeptical. You know I'm not a tribble person. I'm more of a dog person. But now that they're here, I've warmed up to these little critters."

By the end of the video, the tribbles have completely taken over the Air and Space Museum office, as well as the staff's hearts. It's a good thing the Smithsonian didn't try to breed Denebian slime devils instead.