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Lions in Russia: Joke or Twitter Hoax is not the Worst idea, some say



Original Teaser Trailer for “The Lion KIng”

Both Reuters and Newsweek have debunked the viral story that has been spreading around twitter and instagram about 800 lions (and 600 tigers) that were supposedly unleashed on the residential streets of Russia to help encourage people to stay in their houses and practice “social distancing”.

Reuters attributes the post as having originated at “Break Your Own News”, a web site known for generating fake news.

Apparently, the lion in the photo, a staged photo taken in South Africa in 2016, is named Columbus, and was “cast” in the role after having been on loan from a nearby lion park.

It’s odd that when things are the most serious funny things seem to stand out even more. As gallows humor or just a stray internet meme, various truths sometimes converge in an untruth that is nevertheless less apt for the current moment.

In this case there are various hooks that encourage virality. First the photo is fantastic and would be more than just hilarious if it were real. Secondly, who doesn’t believe that Putin would do this? He’s known to have done far worse, and his macho outdoorsman persona fits perfectly.

Then there is the current wave of stories about people, in particular young people, either dying or just looking really stupid after ignoring government orders to shelter in place and maintain social distance. The meme conjures fantasies of such rule breakers being mauled by lions and tigers for their stupidity, only in Russia, of course.

Taking it to a whole other level, the tweet below imagines Donald Trump (from a parody account, of course) congratulating his good friend on the brilliant and “bold steps”, bringing to mind his “bold” comments that he would “open the country” by Easter (April 19th), irregardless of the containment or continued spread of covid-19 a.k.a. the novel coronavirus.

We can just imagine that the amusement of this story could only be further enhanced by reading this highly recommended literary masterpiece: The Lion in Russia” which happens to be book 2 from the “Pussycat Death Squad Series” of kindle books. Happy self-isolating everyone. Feel free to comment and share!

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