1874 Central Park Zoo Escape

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Headline for New York Herald story

The 1874 Central Park Zoo Escape was a hoax perpetrated in the New York Herald on November 9, 1874.[1][2]

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."[3] 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.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

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.[2]


  1. Robert E. Bartholomew; Benjamin Radford (19 October 2011). The Martians Have Landed!: A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes. McFarland. pp. 84–85. ISBN 978-0-7864-8671-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Connery, T. B. (3 June 1893). A Famous Newspaper Hoax, Harper's Weekly, p. 534
  3. Hampton Sides (4 August 2014). In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "The Central Park Zoo Escape, 1874". Museum of Hoaxes. Retrieved 22 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Edward J. Levine (18 October 2006). Central Park. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 19–. ISBN 978-1-4396-1812-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Joy Masoff (2006). Oh, Yikes!: History's Grossest, Wackiest Moments. Workman. pp. 130–. ISBN 978-0-7611-3684-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Thomas Lawrence Connelly (1978). The Marble Man: Robert E. Lee and His Image in American Society. LSU Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-8071-0474-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Michael Rubbinaccio (15 December 2012). New York's Father Is Murdered!: The Life and Death of Andrew Haswell Green. Pescara Books. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-615-72739-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. David Rains Wallace (16 November 2000). The Bonehunters' Revenge: Dinosaurs, Greed, and the Greatest Scientific Feud of the Gilded Age. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 6–7. ISBN 0-618-08240-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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