Did a Giant Crocodile Roam New Orleans Floods?

The Photos Are Real - The Story Is Not

Emailed pictures of a gigantic crocodile purportedly captured in the flooded streets of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina have been circulating since September 2005. These images are a hoax.

Katrina Crocodile Images Debunked

After Katrina struck there were rumors of sharks and alligators swimming in the streets of New Orleans, but very little in the way of hard evidence that any such thing actually occurred. The pictures here are actually real, but the caption is false. Contrary to what is claimed, these photos weren't taken in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina flooded the streets of the city in 2005. Rather, they were taken in 2003 and document the capture of a 16-foot crocodile in Pointe-Noire, Republic of the Congo. The incident was covered in the July 17, 2003 edition of La Semaine Africaine. (Some versions of the message below identify the beast as an alligator, making it doubly erroneous.)

According to an article in allafrica.com, the reptile was a crocodile whose vital statistics fell a bit short of the claims made below: he was estimated to be 50 years old, about 16 feet long, and about 1,900 pounds. The locals wanted to eat it but the mayor supposedly insisted on preserving the crocodile's carcass and shipped it to a taxidermist.

New Orleans Singer Tells Her Story

Famed New Orleans singer Charmaine Neville also backed up the story on news channel WFAB. With cameras rolling, Neville told Bishop Hughes she and others had just been through a living hell.  

"Alligators were eating people, they had all kinds of stuff in the water," Neville said.  "They had babies floating in the water.  We had to walk over hundreds of bodies of dead people," she said.

She told the same story again in a live interview broadcast during WAFB-TV's coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Eight months later she still stood by her story and said to WAFB-9NEWS:

"I have had people come up to me and say, did that really happen?"   Neville said, when asked that question, she often replies, "I'm glad you weren't there, but had you been there, you would know."

Sample Email About Post-Katrina Crocodile

Here's an email example contributed by Debbie S. on September 16, 2005:

FW: What a crock!-- New Orleans
This crocodile was found in New Orleans swimming down the street. 21 feet long, 4,500 lbs, and 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.

Sources and Further Reading:

The Monster Crocodile of Pointe-Noire
Netlore Archive, March 22, 2005

Are Sharks Prowling the Streets of New Orleans?
Urban Legends blog, September 3, 2005