Hunt for missing guinea pig gets kids free train rides

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“Help! My little son Jesse lost his guinea pig Trippel on the train. Can you help?” reads the panicked message from a mom on Twitter to staffers at the national Dutch railway NS. The customer service and public relations teams sprung into action, enlisting children across the country to help track down the missing rodent. Kids aged 11 and under were allowed to ride the rails free of charge on Wednesday if they brought carrots to help lure the guinea pig from hiding. The NS used Facebook and Twitter throughout the day to get kids to join in on the hunt for the guinea pig, lost at 7:47 a.m. on a train traveling between Utrecht and The Hague. Many in the country were immediately skeptical of the railroad’s outreach, suggesting the NS was up to playful shenanigans. “We received a message via Twitter from a mom,” NS spokesman Erik Kroeze told NL Times. While noting the date, the NS insisted it did not know if this was a prank. “We’re really not joking about the kids traveling for free,” Kroeze said. Trippel the guinea pig was found around 4 p.m. by a nine-year-old named Noa. The Gouda girl caught the plush cuddly toy on a Sprinter train headed to The Hague.

Although Trippel was an April Fool’s gag, Noa was given the first-ever Kids Vrij subscription to the ride the country’s railway, even on other train operators. The new program, which translates to Kids Free, lets any child between four and 11 travel for free with a parent or grandparent. The child does need his or her own public transportation card to get the free subscription. It is valid for free travel any day of the week.

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