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- Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, N.J. and the Essex County executive issued statements that the social media claim of escaped animals from the zoo was a hoax.
Tropical Storm Ida hit New York and New Jersey with torrential downpours, flash flooding and tornadoes on the night of Sept. 1.
For all of the dangerous conditions awaiting residents the next morning, escaped zoo animals were not one of them. A viral text message warning of lions, gorillas and bears on the loose was a hoax.
An image of a text alert spread across social media, including this Facebook post, and said, "Animals from Turtle Back Zoo (West Orange 07052) are fleeing the premises. Animals listed: penguins, lions, bears, otters, gorillas, and reptiles. Any exotic animals seen please call local animal control services immediately so we can return animals back to the zoo safely."
The zoo is part of the Essex County park system. Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said the rumor was "unequivocally false."
"Turtle Back is an accredited facility that takes the care and welfare of our animals very seriously," DiVincenzo said in an emailed statement. "In advance of Hurricane Ida, our animal care team secured all the animals indoors and staff remained on grounds to monitor the situation."
Turtle Back Zoo thanked people for their concern on Twitter. "There was no loss of power and all of our animals and animal areas weathered the storm well and remain safe and secure within the facility," the zoo wrote.
A social media claim warned of animals that escaped from New Jersey’s Turtle Back Zoo during Tropical Storm Ida.
Both the zoo and Essex County executive said that didn’t happen.
We rate this claim Pants on Fire!
New York Times, Ida Drenches New York and New Jersey, Sept. 1, 2021
Facebook post, Sept. 1 ,2021
Facebook post, Sept. 1, 2021
Interview with Anthony Puglisi, director of the Office of Public Information for Essex County, Sept. 2, 2021
Twitter, Turtle Back Zoo statement, Sept. 2, 2021
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