San Antonio Zoo fools media with elephant story
© San Antonio Zoo

The San Antonio Zoo used its elephants to play a trick on the media this year, releasing a statement "showing" the animals swimming and playing in the San Antonio River as visitors to the zoo are staying home and practicing social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The zoo said in a Wednesday media release that when the zoo first opened in 1914, it was not uncommon for visitors to “see zookeepers and elephants in the San Antonio River flowing through the park as they were often taken for walks and swims outside of zoo grounds.” 

The zoo said its specialists are taking up that tradition and allowing the elephants to swim and play in the San Antonio River as park visitors stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic, before saying that "we hope you have a wonderful April 1st and this brings a smile during challenging times." 

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The April Fool's joke tricked a number of media outlets, including The Hill and local TV station KSAT.

“Colonel Brackenridge, who donated the parkland and zoo site to the City of San Antonio, had his own personal menagerie of exotic animals on display in the park long before the zoo was founded,” Tim Morrow, president and CEO of the San Antonio Zoo, said in a Wednesday statement.

“Today we relived a bit of history by taking our Golden Girls: Lucky, Karen, and Nicole for a quick dip in the park and while the park is mostly empty a handful of visitors were able to watch the elephants frolic in the water,” Morrow continued as part of the prank.

The zoo is actually home to three Asian elephants — Lucky, Karen and Nicole — but they did not go for a walk or swim while the zoo was empty.

The elephants are 45, 49 and 60 years old, respectively, according to the zoo’s Wednesday statement. Lucky will celebrate her birthday with a Facebook Live Party on Sunday on the zoo’s official Facebook page.

Some zoos have adapted during the pandemic. Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Mo., put out the call for kids and adults to write letters to its animals while it remains closed to visitors.

Zoos across the country are also using live streams to share their inhabitants. The Cincinnati Zoo introduced a new Facebook Live “Home Safari” show set to air every weekday at 3 p.m., CBS News reported. The Elmwood Park Zoo in Pennsylvania is offering “Zoo School” over Facebook Live to educate kids who are out of school due to the pandemic, in addition to other zoos and aquariums across the country.