This has nothing to do with the FBI or Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
But since everyone knows news values become more, shall we say, malleable during the slow, hot days of mid-August, it could be a major scandal involving Facebook and zoo collusion. Or not.
It seems that a discerning Egyptian student, Mahmoud A. Sarhan (on the right, above), recently visited a Cairo zoo. There, he stopped at the zebra pen. Its hoofed occupants appeared rather small for African zebras, and he thought they bore a remarkable resemblance to donkeys.
There were other disturbing clues too. Sarhan was struck by their black stripes, which were not consistently parallel as in the wild. And the stripes on the critters’ faces were strangely smudged, not your normal zebra characteristic.
Then, the animals on display had grey snouts, instead of black ones. And their ears were huge, resembling antennas more than discreet zebra ears.
Sarhan took a photo. He posted it on Facebook. Viralness happened. Controversy ensued.
Animal experts online identified the zebras as donkeys.
But Mohamed Sultan, director of Cairo’s International Garden municipal zoo, vehemently denied having the ordinary animals painted to impersonate the more exotic — and expensive — striped ones for gullible customers.
Sultan suggested that Russians likely broke into the zoo and meddled with the exhibit. No, I made that part up.
In the end, no harm-no foul. The zebras get to stay in the wild and be chased by hungry lions. And the donkeys sure aren’t complaining. They have the best entertainment gig ever, simply munching hay and standing around to be looked at, instead of carrying heavy loads on their backs through hot, noisy city streets.
Because the fake zebra fake news was not on Fox News or Twitter, another social media devotee, Donald Trump, has yet to share his provocative thoughts on the controversy.