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Swans, Dolphins in Venice? Drunk Elephants in China? Fake Animal Videos Spike amid Coronavirus

In the past week, several videos of animals roaming free in the absence of humans have been going viral | Image credit: Twitter

In the past week, several videos of animals roaming free in the absence of humans have been going viral | Image credit: Twitter

The animal stories brought cheer to thousands stuck under isolation at home. It turned out, however, that the videos were not real at all.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: March 22, 2020, 1:58 PM IST
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Amid the coronavirus lockdown, nature may not have found a way to bounce back yet. But it seems fake news has.

With the coronavirus pandemic bringing a halt to daily life and sending several cities and countries into near-total lockdown, several positive stories of animals reclaiming public spaces and running free in the absence of humans went viral.

With Italy under lockdown, it was said that the waters of the canals in Venice had magically cleared. Viral videos showed swans and dolphins swimming in the canals of deserted Venice. It was liked by a million people.

Another viral video showed a group of elephants who allegedly got drunk on corn wine and passed out in a tea-garden in Yunan, China.

The stories became massively popular across the world and brought cheer to thousands stuck under quarantine and isolation at home. It turned out, however, that the videos were not real at all.

As per a fact-check conducted by the National Geographic, the animal videos were mostly fake. In Venice, though the water was clearer due to lack of boating and human activity, no swans or dolphins had "returned" to the canals as had been written in the viral video. The swans seen in the video are regulars in the canals of Burano, not Venice, which is where the footage was shot. As for the dolphins, the report said they had been filmed in a Sardinian port, not Venice.

Chinese reports have also debunked the viral drunk elephant video, stating that though a group of elephants did enter a village in Yunnan province, they were not the same as the ones captured in the images, and they definitely did not get drunk or pass out in a tea garden after that. In fact, the reality was not as cute as the animals allegedly went on rampage and caused damage to homes and property. As for being drunk, the animals seemed to have knocked over some alcohol but there is no evidence of them "getting drunk" on corm wine.

With the coronavirus pandemic claiming over 13,000 lives worldwide, misinformation and fake news have spread as fast as the virus itself. And this is not the only time that fake news stories about animals went viral during COVID-19. In the initial days of the outbreak, several videos of such as pigs being slaughtered in China went viral.

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