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Giant New Orleans Crocodile Hoax Email

by Brett M. Christensen


Email claims that a giant 21-foot crocodile was found swimming the flooded streets of Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.


Real photographs, false location


Subject: Wow, Now this is a big crocodileBelieve it or not! Now this is a Crocodile!This crocodile was found in New Orleans swimming down the street. 21 FT long, 4,500 lbs, around 80 years old minimum.

Specialists said that he was looking to eat humans because he was too old to catch animals. This crocodile was killed by the army last Sunday at 3:00 pm, currently he is in the freezer at the Azur hotel. The contents of its stomach will be analyzed this Friday at 2:30pm


Detailed Analysis

The photographs that arrive with this email forward supposedly depict a giant man-eating crocodile caught swimming the flooded streets of New Orleans in the wake of destruction caused by 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. The photographs are real. However, they were not taken in New Orleans. The images were displayed on various websites and began circulating around the Internet via email and online forum posts long before Hurricane Katrina struck. 

Apparently, the photographs were actually taken in Pointe Noire, Republic of the Congo, during 2003. The original email message is very similar to the current version, except that the prankster has relocated the action to New Orleans rather than Africa. According to an article discussing the original message on About.com, information about this giant crocodile was published on July 17, 2003 in La Semaine Africaine, a French language Congolese magazine.

Also, it appears that the length, weight and age of the reptile are exaggerated in both the original Pointe Noire version of the email and the 2005 New Orleans mutation.

The About.com article notes that the magazine story records the crocodile as measuring 5 meters (around 16 feet) and weighing 850 kilos around (1,874 lbs). The animal’s age is estimated to be around 50 years rather than 80 years as claimed in the messages.

The animal depicted is a Nile crocodile. Nile crocodiles are found across a large portion of Africa (but certainly not the New Orleans region) and do indeed grow to enormous sizes. According to an article on the Crocodilian Species website, Crocodylus niloticus has an average adult length of around 5 meters (about 16 feet) and has been reported as reaching 6 meters (around 19 feet) in rare cases. The article notes:

There are dubious reports of 7 m animals having existed, but these are hard to verify.

A Wikipedia entry about Nile crocodiles concurs:

Seven meter (23 ft) and larger specimens have been reported, but since gross overestimation of size is common these reports are suspect.

Thus, while the photographs depict a real animal, it is probably not as large as claimed in the email message and it was certainly not “found in New Orleans swimming down the street”.

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,