FACT CHECK: Did Russia Let Over 500 Lions Loose To Keep People Indoors During The Coronavirus Pandemic?

Jonathan Fonti | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims the Russian government let over 500 lions loose on the streets to keep people indoors during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Russia ain’t Playing!” reads the caption.

Verdict: False

The screen grabbed news broadcast was created on a news generator website. The photo of the lion featured in the post is from a 2016 South African film shoot.

Fact Check:

“Breaking News: Russia unleashed more than 500 lions on its streets to ensure that people are staying indoors during this pandemic outbreak,” claims the chyron in the alleged news broadcast. A ticker below that also claims, “Vladmir (sic) Putin released around 500 lions to make people stay indoors.”

The supposed screen grab of a breaking news broadcast appears to have been fabricated. In fact, one version of the post included a watermark for Break Your Own News, a website that allows users to create their own news chyrons. (RELATED: Viral Image Claims To Show A Russian River Frozen Like The ‘Scream’ Mask)

Found on the Caters News Agency website, the photo actually shows a male lion named Columbus prowling the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa, during the production of a film in 2016. Columbus has starred in a number of movies and TV commercials, according to Metro.co.uk.

Like many other countries, Russia has taken steps to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including shutting down its border with China. Dr. Melita Vujnovic, the World Health Organization’s representative in Russia, told CNN that the country has also been testing for cases and tracing contacts, among other measures.

At the time of publication, Russia has reported 495 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and one death, according to the Johns Hopkins University live map.

Jonathan Fonti

Fact Check Reporter
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