Get PolitiFact in your inbox.

Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman July 7, 2023

Lions, tigers and bears on the streets of Paris? No, zoo animals haven’t been released amid riots

If Your Time is short

  • Many of the video clips in these claims are old or from other countries.

  • The Paris Zoological Park responded on Twitter to the claims, writing that the animals are all safe. 

Lions, tigers and bears on the streets of Paris? Oh my. 

That’s what several viral videos are claiming amid protests that erupted across France following the fatal police shooting of a teen. 

"Protestors release animals out the zoo after a teen was (shot) by the cops in Paris," one July 4 Instagram post claimed, showing a video montage of zebras, lions, wolves, ostriches and elephants roaming free in neighborhoods and streets.

"It’s major protest in France (right now) & they’ve released all the zoo animals," claimed another Instagram post, shared July 5, which featured the same video compilation.

Similar videos have also spread widely on other platforms such as TikTok and Twitter, racking up millions of views and hundreds of thousands of shares. 

The posts were flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

But many of the video clips are old or from different places, inside and outside of France. The Paris Zoological Park also responded on Twitter to the claims, writing that all the animals are safe. 

Screenshot via Instagram


Featured Fact-check

Here’s what we found about some of the videos included in the compilations:

  • One clip that shows zebras running through traffic was taken in April 2020 in Chennevières-sur-Marne, a southeastern Paris suburb, after the animals escaped from a circus. 

  • A video of more than 80 ostriches racing down city streets in the dark is from January 2022 in Chongzuo, a city in southern China. The birds escaped from a nearby farm after the gate to their pen was left unlocked, according to a report by Reuters. 

  • A video of a goat walking around parked cars was shared on TikTok with a French caption that reads "a goat in the street" — but it’s from January.

  • A clip of an elephant sauntering down a road as cars drive by was taken in western Germany in June 2018 after it escaped from a circus.

  • A reverse-image search revealed that a clip of lions walking along a road at night was first shared online in February by an Indian newspaper. Another video of lions walking along a road, this one during the day, is even older. A reverse-image search showed that it was first posted in July 2021 by an Iranian website.

  • Lastly, a clip of a rhino taking a leisurely stroll through a town wasn’t filmed in France and wasn’t a recent occurrence, either. The video was taken in January 2020 in Nepal. 

We rate claims that say protesters in Paris have released animals from the zoo False.

Our Sources

Instagram posts, July 4-5, 2023

Twitter post, July 3, 2023

The New York Times, Unrest in France Eases Nearly a Week After Fatal Police Shooting, July 3, 2023

Full Fact, Zebras and lions filmed running through streets were not filmed during French riots, July 3, 2023

Forbes, No, Zoo Animals Haven’t Been Let Loose During The Riots In France, July 5, 2023

LeParisian, VIDEO. In full confinement, wild animals roam in the Val-de-Marne, April 13, 2020

YouTube, Ostriches escape from a farm in China, Jan. 11, 2022

TikTok, post, Jan. 8, 2023, Elephant escapes German circus, June 7, 2018

TinEye, Reverse-image search, July 7, 2023, Video screenshot, Feb. 16, 2023 

TinEye, Reverse-image search, July 7, 2023, Video screenshot, July 1, 2021

YouTube, Rhino takes stroll through Nepal town, Jan. 24, 2020 

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Samantha Putterman

Lions, tigers and bears on the streets of Paris? No, zoo animals haven’t been released amid riots

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up