Some Twitter Users Really Think Putin Released Hundreds of Lions in Russian Streets to Make People Stay Home

Some people believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin has released hundreds of lions into the streets of Russia as a way to keep people in their homes and stop them from making the coronavirus outbreak even worse. A bogus tweet that features a doctored photo of a lion standing in a dark, empty street is circling the web and being taken as truth—as evidence of the next wave of COVID-19 prevention.

The photo first surfaced on the Facebook account Humor TV with a detailed caption. "Vladmir [sic] Putin has dropped 800 Tigers and lions all over the country to push people to stay home," it read, as reported by India Today. Since then, the photo has been shared hundreds of times by people either bewildered by the claim, or praising Putin for a creative approach to promote social distancing.

Social-distancing and self-quarantining have become a major priority for many, as a way to potentially slow the spread of COVID-19. Some individuals are enforcing the tactics on their own, while other local and national government officials have ordered citizens to stay inside.

Lions are seen at the national zoo in San Salvador on July 2, 2015. Marvin RECINOS/AFP via Getty Images/Getty

The viral tweet about the lions isn't true, of course. In actuality, the photo of the lion was originally taken in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2016—a discovery made by India Today via a reverse image search. The image has also, apparently, been edited to show a false news banner. While the photo claims to be capturing "breaking news," there's no official news source logo to be found on the image.

Despite some Twitter accounts claiming this is legitimately fake news, some are still sure in their beliefs that Putin has released lions in order to force people to self-quarantine. Some accounts have even exaggerated even further, saying that Putin has also set loose some tigers.

This back and forth comes as people all around the world are being encouraged to stay inside due to the quick and dangerous spread of COVID-19. The idea is that by staying home, people lessen the risk that they'll catch or spread the virus, and thus leave healthcare resources available for those who are most seriously ill.

Even though he's not using lions, tigers or bears to keep streets empty, Putin has said that coronavirus is "under control" in Russia, as noted by the BBC. There is, though, growing skepticism around Russia's reported infection numbers, which are shockingly low compared to much of the world. In addition to the low numbers, there's been a spike in reported cases of pneumonia, which can apparently be triggered by a COVID-19 infection, Reuters reported.

Some Twitter Users Really Think Putin Released Hundreds of Lions in Russian Streets to Make People Stay Home | Culture