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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke February 20, 2020

This photo of an elephant carrying a lion cub is fake

If Your Time is short

  • The image was Photoshopped for April Fool’s Day. 

"It was considered the best photo of this century," the best photo’s caption grandly declares. "A lioness and her cub were crossing the savannah but the heat was excessive and the cub was in great difficulty walking. An elephant realized that the cub would die and carried him in his trunk to a pool of water walking beside his mother. And we call them wild animals."

For a couple years now, the image, which shows a lion cub tucked into an elephant’s trunk as the animal walks alongside a lioness, has been shared widely on Facebook. This Feb. 17 post, among others, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

That’s because it’s not the best photo of the century, but maybe one of the best Photoshop jobs of the week. 

A Twitter account dedicated to helping people spot wildlife at Kruger National Park in South Africa posted the image on April 1, 2018, with this caption: "We were following a lioness carrying her cub & she was getting really tired. An elephant showed up wanting to help the lioness. The elephant put its trunk down, the cub jumped up & the elephant carried the lion cub!! S28, 3km from S entrance." It also says, "Tinged by Sloof Lirpa," crediting the person responsible for reporting the sighting. But "Sloof Lirpa" is "April Fools" backwards.

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A post published on the account’s website the following day explained that the photo is indeed a joke.  

"We had to spend hours perfecting the Photoshop," it says. "We wanted it to be good enough to fool most, yet obvious enough to cause the "Fake" or "Photoshopped" comments to come through."

Not everyone got the joke, of course, and people continue to post the image on Facebook believing it’s real. We rate it Pants on Fire!.


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This photo of an elephant carrying a lion cub is fake

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