Fact Check: Steven Spielberg Did NOT Shoot A Rhino That Became Extinct

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Steven Spielberg Did NOT Shoot A Rhino That Became Extinct Dino Not Rhino

Did Steven Spielberg shoot a rhino that became extinct? No, that's not true: The photograph is a joke. The original photograph is of Spielberg from the set of "Jurassic Park" in 1993, showing him sitting in front of a fake dead triceratops dinosaur, not a rhinoceros. The dino was used in the movie he filmed based on the Michael Creighton books, in which DNA is used to bring dinosaurs back to life with deadly results. The gun is photoshopped into the picture.

The claim appeared as a post (archived here) where it was published by Science Humor on Facebook on December 4, 2020. It opened:

Steven Spielberg shot this rhino in 1993. This species is now extinct.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Dec 8 20:20:54 2020 UTC)

The post has a caption explaining that the picture is a joke:

"Seeing Humor in Life, The Universe and Everything Since 2011." This group is part of our neuropsychological study. We are testing a series of hypotheses related to science and humor. Our primary goal is to answer the question: "Do scientists have a sense of humor?" Our null hypothesis is that scientists do not have a sense of humor.

The photo of Spielberg was originally from the set of "Jurassic Park," filmed in Hawaii in 1993, and the famed director was sitting in front of a prop triceratops. There are multiple photos of Spielberg with the dinosaur props on the movie's IMDB page.

He has been attacked online for several different reasons for the photo.

There are claims he shot a rhino and it is now extinct, which isn't true. The "joke" on the Science Humor website added a gun in front of the director and said he "shot" the rhino, which he did when he "shot" the movie he filmed. But again, the animal isn't a rhino. The triceratops is extinct.

Spielberg is not a poacher and he did not shoot a real living animal.

Satirist Jay Branscomb posted the photo on Facebook in 2014, sparking the outrage. He captioned it, "Disgraceful photo of recreational hunter happily posing next to a Triceratops he just slaughtered. Please share so the world can name and shame this despicable man."

Disgraceful photo of recreational hunter happily posing next to a Triceratops he just slaughtered. Please share so the world can name and shame this despicable man.

Posted by Jay Branscomb on Sunday, July 6, 2014


The Mirror, a British publication, shot down the claims that Speilberg was a poacher who killed a living animal that became extinct in a 2014 article:

Steven Spielberg targeted by confused trolls after Facebook picture with 'dead' triceratops
The director was subjected to vile abuse from dim-witted bullies who thought he had poached an endangered species

Movie-maker Stephen Spielberg has been targeted by idiotic web trolls who didn't realise dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago (sic).

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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