Crocodile Eats Man

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Emery, David. "Crocodile Eats Man." ThoughtCo, Nov. 30, 2015, thoughtco.com/crocodile-eats-man-3298852. Emery, David. (2015, November 30). Crocodile Eats Man. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/crocodile-eats-man-3298852 Emery, David. "Crocodile Eats Man." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/crocodile-eats-man-3298852 (accessed October 24, 2017).
Crocodile eats man
Viral image

As the story goes, an impatient golfer plays ahead of the rest of his party and disappears. His pals search for him, but all they can find is his golf clubs still sitting near the seventh hole. Three days later, a well-fed crocodile is captured nearby. Naturally, "Ole Mose" is an immediate suspect in the disappearance.


Description: Viral image, text
Circulating since: July 1998
Status: Authentic image / False text

Example:
Email contributed by a reader, February 26, 2000:

FW: Read story first before opening picture.

You must read this and see the picture at the end. It is just crazy.... This is a true story from Palm Beach, Florida (the proof is at the end, but read the story first).

The first foursome of the day played together to the 5th hole where one impatient golfer went ahead of the group. The remaining three finished their round and headed for the nineteenth hole to meet their less-patient friend. However, he wasn't there...and was no where to be found. Since his car was still in the parking lot, the threesome waited two hours.

Thinking the impatient golfer might still be somewhere out on the course, they notified the clubhouse and the search was on. Of course, the impatient golfer was not located, but his clubs were found on the hole. Three days later, Ole Mose was spotted on the seventh hole and was an immediate suspect.

Ole Mose was an American crocodile that was an infrequent course visitor for over 20 years. Not too much concern was ever given Ole Mose, as he had always made a hasty retreat whenever he saw anyone coming. To make a long story even longer, after the course officials, SPCA, lawyers, citizens groups, the mayor, Palm Beach PD, and the American Crocodile Association of Southern Florida agreed, it was decided that, in order to put everyone's mind at ease, Ole Mose should be unzipped.

Take notice to what the man standing over Ole Moses is holding.


Analysis: Zoologist and crocodile expert Adam "He Oughta Know" Britton tells us the email tale is fake but the photo is real. According to Britton, the incident captured on film couldn't have happened in Florida.

How does he know? Simple. The particular species of crocodile in the image, Crocodylus porosus, is native to Indonesia.

It's not found in Florida. Plus, says Britton, there has never been a crocodile-caused fatality in Florida (though alligator attacks are a different story).

The photograph was taken in Kalimantan (Borneo) in 1997. Nothing else is known about it. The email story was attached anonymously in July 1998 and the two have circulated together ever since.

For a clue as to how such a tasteless joke might have come about, look no further than the fact that alligators are not only plentiful in Florida, but are frequently sighted on golf courses. Tourists have even been bitten on occasion. Our email author was evidently aware of this, but made the mistake of confusing alligators with their cousins, the crocodiles — of which there are only a few hundred left in Florida and none at all north of the Everglades.

Even so, the story rings true for enough many readers that a West Palm Beach hotel and golf course called the Breakers, whose name is mentioned in one popular version of the email, complains of receiving a steady stream of credulous phone calls from the day the story first appeared. "I compare this prank to tabloid journalism," a spokesperson for the resort complained to reporters. "When you're at the top of the heap, someone wants to knock you down."

The reputation of the endangered American crocodile hasn't exactly benefited from the hoax, either.

Sources and further reading:

Gator Attacks on Humans Rise as Florida Population Grows
Washington Post, 7 July 2001

Crocodile Eats Golfer?
Crocodilian.com, Florida Museum of Natural History

Real Florida: The Long and Short of Crocodile Tales
St. Petersburg Times, 5 September 2002

Last updated 11/29/15