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Fact Check: Has Russia released 500 lions on streets to enforce Corona lockdown?

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The viral claim is false that 500 Lions have been released on Russian streets by Vladimir Putin to force people inside. This picture is from Johannesburg in South Africa and about four years old.

Many social media users are sharing a graphic card, in which a lion can be seen roaming on the street. It looks like a screenshot of a TV news channel and it is being claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin has left more than 500 lions on the road to ensure that people remain inside their houses during the coronavirus outbreak.

A caption with the picture reads 'Breaking News: Russia unleashed more than 500 lions on its streets to ensure that people are staying indoors during this pandemic outbreak. Vladimir Putin released around 500 lions to make people stay indoors.'

A Twitter user name Nasir Chinioti shared the picture with a caption "Vladimir Putin has given Russians two options. You stay at home for 2 weeks or you go to jail for 5years. No middle ground. RUSSIA: Vladimir Putin has Dropped 800 tigers and Lions all over the Country to push people to stay Home.. Stay Safe Everyone!!"

The viral post received 9000 shares and 14700 likes at the time of writing this article 

A Facebook Page name Hamra TV shared the picture with a caption "President Vladmir Putin has dropped 800 Tigers and lions across the country to push people to stay home".

The post received 1300 shares and 992 likes at the time of writing this article.

Both these photos are also being shared a lot on WhatsApp.

Fact Check

In our investigation, we found that the photo of the lion being shared was captured in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016. It has nothing to do with Russia or Coronavirus.

After doing the reverse image search on google, we found a New York Post article published on April 15, 2016. According to the article, the incident is from Johannesburg, South Africa. Johannesburg residents were startled to discover Columbus the lion roaming through their concrete jungle. The big cat was wandering the streets of the South African city after being released by a local film company that borrowed him from a nearby lion park. According to the Johannesburg Roads Agency, the filming had not been approved and the film company took a risk by springing the lion without getting the OK to close several roads.

The graphic of 'Breaking News' has been attached to this picture, through a website called 'Break Your Own News', where people can design ttheir own 'Breaking News'.


In Conclusion, the viral claim is false that Russia has left more than 500 lions on the road.  It is clear that the photo is from 2016 and has nothing to do with Russia, Vladimir Putin, and Coronavirus.

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