1874 Central Park Zoo Escape
The 1874 Central Park Zoo Escape was a hoax perpetrated in the New York Herald on November 9, 1874.
The Herald's cover story claimed that there had been a mass escape of animals from the Central Park Zoo and several people had been killed by the now free-roaming beasts. A rhinoceros was said to be the first to escape, goring his keeper to death and setting into motion the escape of his neighbors. Other animals that the Herald reported free included "a polar bear, a panther, a Numidian lion, several hyenas, and a Bengal tiger." At the end of the lengthy article, the following notice was the only indication that the story horrifying readers across the city was a hoax: “Of course, the entire story given above is a pure fabrication. Not one word of it is true.” That was not enough to assuage critics, however, who accused Bennett of inciting panic when the extent of the hoax became widely known.
Joseph Ignatius Constantine Clarke was the primary writer of the hoax, under the direction and inspiration of the Herald's managing editor Thomas B. Connery, who often walked through the Zoo and had witnessed a near-escape of a leopard.
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