Rocky Mountain News sends out false news alert about elephant escape

"All this trouble about little ol' me?"

"BREAKING NEWS," read the alert sent out earlier today by the Rocky Mountain News. "An elephant is on the loose at the Denver Zoo, police say, and a zookeeper is injured. Go to for more details."

Those who visit the site now will have themselves a good guffaw, since the entire escaped-elephant scenario turned out to be untrue. The first word in the Rocky's explanatory piece says it all: "Oops!"

What happened? According to the account by Alan Gathright, the Denver Zoo was running a drill -- something it does about five times per year -- when a confused visitor called the cops. Before long, the Rocky's report had gone out and Channel 4 had even dispatched its helicopter with instructions to watch for a rampaging pachyderm. But no such luck: As soon as Zoo representatives discovered that media types were literally flying to the scene, they sent out a release reading, "NO ESCAPE."

Amid the hilarity of his account, Gathright works in a compliment to his colleagues. "The Rocky Mountain News wasn't sleeping," he writes, "reacting so fast that it confirmed the report with police and got out an alert on the escaped elephant just before word came that it was just a drill -- and just in time to perhaps confuse a few readers."

And probably disappoint them, too. -- Michael Roberts