Was A Deer Saved From A Python Attack On Poya Day?

Misleading Religious Wildlife

Poya Day which coincides with the monthly full moon is considered a sacred day for Buddhists in Sri Lanka. In observance with national laws which are in place to safeguard Buddhism in the country, no meat or liquor is sold on Poya days. Many clad in white and observe fast or engage in religious activities at temples strewn across the country. However, due to current COVID-19 situation in the country the places of worship remained closed and government has decided to grant permission to assemblies at religious places only under strict implementation of social distancing measures. 

Poya in 2020 fell on the 5th of June and is a significant Poya held to commemorate the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka. The story goes to tell us that the monarch at the time, King Devanampiyatissa was on a deer hunt in the Mihintale forests when Mahinda Thero appeared to him from atop a mountain. On hearing his name being called out, the King stopped his pursuit of the deer, answered a riddle and listened to the teachings. King Devanampiyatissa eventually followed the teachings of the Buddha and since then Buddhism was spread across the island.

With this in mind, we noticed a video posted on Poson Poya by a Sri Lankan Facebook Page named ‘OLU’ which featured a deer in the clutches of a python and eventually saved by human intervention. The video which went viral and has 1000+ shares to date was accompanied by the text” පෝය දවසෙ කරගත්තු ලොකු පිනක් ❤️🙏 which translates to English as “A good deed done on Poya Day”. A screenshot of the video and links to the original post are below:

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Considering the coincidental nature of the video showing a deer being saved which draws parallels to the inception of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, we deemed it necessary to do a fact check in order to ascertain the truth behind the video and the claim. 

FACT CHECK

We began our fact check with a Google search with the key phrase “deer saved from python” a screenshot from the video which indicated that it had in fact been posted by several others around the world as can be seen below:

We also ran the video through InVid for a detailed analysis of the frames which lead into a Google Reverse Image search of the stills which brought us back to several postings of the same video which claimed someone saved a deer from being eaten by a python. Several posters were authentic news sources such as the Hindustan Times as can be seen below:

All the sources claim that the video was shot in Thailand. In fact, the Hindustan Times article, published on 2nd June 2020, said the following: The video was shared by Twitter user @papakrab on May 30. The tweet mentions that it was recorded at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Thailand. A screenshot of the article can be seen below:

Further investigation of the story also revealed several other posts that confirm the incident’s location being Thailand, the original poster being papakrab and the date of posting being 30th May 2020 which was 5 days prior to Poson Poya. 

A link to the original tweet and a screenshot of the post can be seen below:

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Originally posted in Thai the Tweet translates to English as “The incident occurred yesterday at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo.” Hence it is clear that the incident had occurred on 29th of May in Thailand’s Khao Kheow Open Zoo

CONCLUSION

Based on our findings it is evident that while the incident did take place in Thailand yet it occurred several days before the Poson Poya. As a result, the post is only partially true and miscaptioned 

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Title:Was A Deer Saved From A Python Attack On Poya Day?

Fact Check By: Shanaya Seneviratne 

Result: Misleading

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