Reports that a tiger escaped — or was released — from the Oakland Zoo during protests in the area appear to be part of a hoax.
Late on Saturday, as protests continued across the Bay Area in response to the death of George Floyd, reports emerged that a tiger had been spotted loose from the zoo. The reports were even picked up by the Alameda County Sheriff's Department, which put out a call on Twitter for people to be on the lookout for the big cat.
"Reports of a Tiger on the loose near the Oakland Zoo. If you see it call 911. 98th Ave at Golf Links," the department tweeted.
Within minutes, the department confirmed that all tigers had been accounted for at the zoo, Breitbart reporter Josh Caplan tweeted.
It was not clear what prompted the reports of the tiger escape at the Oakland Zoo, but it could be related to another viral hoax that emerged late on Saturday. After protests in Rochester, New York, escalated with scattered reports of property damage and looting, some claimed that protesters had broken into the city's zoo and released a number of animals. These reports included fake photos of lions and giraffes loose in the city. Shortly after, zoo officials released a statement saying that none of the animals had been set loose -- and that all were safely contained within the zoo, which has been closed for months during the coronavirus pandemic.
There were similar reports on Friday that protesters had released animals from the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in St. Paul, Minnesota.
While many spread the reports that a tiger was released from the Oakland Zoo, many others seemed to understand that it was a hoax. These latter users make jokes about the idea of protesters letting a big cat loose.While all the zoo animals remain accounted for and safe within their enclosures, there was other damage in Oakland and across the Bay Area as protests turned violent.
As the San Francisco Chronicle reported, the city of Santa Clara instituted a citywide curfew from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. There were reports of property damage and looting across the region as well, including at the Bayfair Mall in San Leandro, where people reportedly broke into a number of stores.
"People are breaking into dozens of stores in the area," the report noted.
"Many people are coming in and out of the Lucky supermarket on Fairmont Drive. People are stopping their cars in the middle of the street to get out and run into stores with broken windows, and there's little police presence."