A screenshot of a lion (allegedly) strolling on a Russian street is making rounds on social media claiming that Russian President Vladimir Putin has let loose at least 500 lions on streets to keep people inside their houses to keep coronavirus under check.
The caption on what it looked like a live video coverage from a news channel read: "Vladimir Putin released around 500 lions to make people stay indoors."
An old video from South Africa
But the fact is that the picture of the lion is from Johannesburg and was shot in 2016. The lion, whose name is Columbus, and was seen on the streets in a clip that was released by a local movie making company. Columbus was borrowed from a nearby lion park to act in the movie.
However, reports by the New York Post on April 15, 2016, stated that the Johannesburg Roads Agency had said that the crew had not got approval from the authorities to use the lion in the movie. The movie company had taken a risk by springing the lion out without seeking permission to close several roads. Another report from Dailymail in 2016 claimed that Columbus had acted in movies such as Blended starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Anniston. Therefore, there is absolutely no truth in the screenshot making rounds.
'News' catches the eye of British billionaire
The fake news not only caught the attention of memesters and common people but also British business magnate Alan Sugar. Sharing the fake clip, Alan Sugar wrote on Twitter: 'Is this a wind up?'
Recently, Alan Sugar was criticized for his tweet on the coronavirus outbreak, where he challenged journalist and Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan saying: "Dear Mr. Morgan we need 25,000 ventilators please deliver ASAP. Pathetic man."
Morgan replied, "You're a billionaire who's done absolutely f*** all during this crisis except tell everyone to stop scare-mongering & take incessant pathetic potshots at me from your luxury American mansion." Currently, the UK has 5,683 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 281 deaths, whereas Russia has 367 confirmed cases and one death reported as of March 23.