FALSE: Putin 'releases 800 tigers and 500 lions' to keep people at home

Claim: Russian President Vladimir Putin releases 800 tigers and 500 lions amid the coronavirus outbreak to keep people at home.

The claim made the rounds on Facebook accompanied by a photo of a lion walking across an intersection. It was posted on a satirical site then was posted again on non-satirical website think.mk, which published an article on March 23 saying Putin released the tigers and lions to enforce the country's "no gathering" rule.

Apart from the photo of the lion spotted at an intersection, the think.mk article also used a photo of 3 lions lying on a road, stopping cars from passing through.

Facebook Claim Check, a tool that detects posts with potentially false information, flagged multiple posts containing the claim. A reader also sent the claim to Rappler for verification.

According to social media tool Crowdtangle, the think.mk article acquired over 2,200 views and 1,400 reactions as of posting.

Rating: FALSE

The facts: The photos used were taken in 2016 and 2019 respectively, both in South Africa.

Using reverse image search, the photo of the lion at an intersection was traced to an incident in April 2016 when a lion wandered through the streets of Johannesburg City, as reported by the New York Post.

The lion was borrowed by a film company from a nearby lion park for a production.

Meanwhile, the second photo of the 3 lions was traced to a stock image taken in March 2019. It was shot at Kruger National Park.

On March 14, Russia closed its borders with Poland and Norway to foreigners in a move to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Prior to this move, it had closed its border with China and limited arrivals from Iran and South Korea.

As the coronavirus outbreak continues, health officials in the Philippines recorded a tally of 552 cases as of March 24. Globally, the number of cases rose to 341,300, affecting 174 countries. ā€“ Loreben Tuquero/Rappler.com