Hoax Alert

Fake News: Zookeeper NOT Arrested, Did NOT Try To Molest 500-Pound Male Gorilla

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Sun, 03 Dec 2017 19:01:01 Z)

Satirical website World News Daily Report published a story titled "Zookeeper Arrested After Trying To Molest 500-Pound Male Gorilla". It opened:

San Diego, CA | A San Diego zoo employee has been formally accused of repeated sexual assault on a 15-year-old male gorilla.

Akimbo Obwe'bwe, a 29-year-old zoo intern originally from Gabon, was found guilty of feeding sedatives to Big George, one of the zoo's top attractions, and partaking in sexual activity with the sedated animal.

According to unreleased video footage, Obwe'bwe proceeded to insert the animal's penis inside his mouth for several minutes but apparently underestimated the strength of the medication, leading the animal to wake up and lash back at the zookeeper, alerting other employees.

zookeeper.jpg

The website World News Daily Report is a well known hoax website specialized in posting hoaxes and made up stories. The disclaimer on their website is pretty clear about that even though you have to scroll all the way down the page to find it:

World News Daily Report assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website - even those based on real people - are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any person, living, dead or undead, is purely a miracle.

It is run by Janick Murray-Hall, who also runs the satirical Journal de Mourréal, a satirical site spoofing the (real) Journal de Montréal.

The fact that the story was completely made up did not deter fake news website ActionNews3 from copying the story verbatim with no attribution and omitting the satire disclaimer. ActionNews3 is a site that is part of a network of similar sites all posting false stories hosted on the same IP address (67.227.229.104). Notorious hoax sites in the network seem to include:

  • actionnews3.com
  • news4ktla.com
  • now8news.com
  • theracketreport.com

Later on the story was also copied by Huzlers (which did credit WNDR) and which carries a satire disclaimer of its own:

Huzlers.com is the most infamous fauxtire & satire entertainment website in the world. If it's trending on social media you'll find it here!

According to Splinter News the site is run by Pablo Reyes and David Martinez and according to Buzzfeed Reyes is involved with several other fake news websites.

Huzler's version managed to attract thousands of likes/shares/comments unlike the original or the copy at ActionNews3. But wherever you saw it, rest assured it was fake and did not happen.

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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