Did Chinese Authorities Seize 12 Tons of Beaver Penises Smuggled in From Canada?

A routine review of content labeled satire.

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Image via Olaf Wagner/ullstein bild via Getty Images


Chinese authorities seized 12 tons of beaver penises that were being smuggled in from Canada.


Labeled Satire
Labeled Satire
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On Jan. 9, 2020, World News Daily Report published an article positing that authorities in China had seized 12 tons of beaver penises that were smuggled in from Canada:

Chinese Authorities Seize 12 Tons of Beaver Penises Smuggled From Canada

Chinese customs officers seized over 12 tons of illegally trafficked beaver genitals in the country’s biggest-ever smuggling case involving animal parts.

A total of 94 bags holding thousands of penises each were seized onboard a Canadian ship transporting mostly wood products and minerals.

This item was not a factual recounting of real-life events. The article originated with a website that describes its output as being humorous or satirical in nature, as follows:

World News Daily Report assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any person, living, dead or undead, is purely a miracle.

While World News Daily Report carries a disclaimer labeling its content as fiction, this story was later reproduced on websites with no such disclaimer. The websites Naijatell.com and Social News Daily, for instance, aggregated this story as if it were genuine news. This bit of satire was presented as news to an even larger audience when it was shared to the “offbeat” section of Reddit.

In addition to the dubious origins of this story, pictures supposedly showing a large number of beaver penises that were included in World News Daily Report’s post actually come from unrelated news stories. The featured picture, shown above, was taken in December 2018 and shows 3.4 tons of illegally trafficked pangolin scales that were seized by Chinese officials from a port in Shanghai. A second image, which supposedly showed beaver penises on sale in a Chinese market and that can be viewed here, actually showed a bag of deer penises. That image appears to have originated with a 2014 blogger post about a family’s trip to Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, in China.   

For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.

  • Published

Domonoske, Camila.   “China Announces Its Largest-Ever Seizure Of Trafficked Pangolin Scales.”
    NPR.   28 December 2016.

World News Daily Report.   “Chinese Authorities Seize 12 Tons of Beaver Penises Smuggled From Canada.”
    9 January 2020.