It’s a joke, people. Settle down. It’s a total croc.
A mildly amusing hoax article has been circulating on Merced social media pages warning people that “three confirmed crocodiles are swimming in the river in the Hagman (sic) Park area.”
At Hagaman Park in Stevinson, there are no crocodiles. None.
The website that generated the article on Thursday, react365.com, invites users to “prank your friends now.” Users draft a “title” and “description” and have the option of uploading a photograph (which is helpful because fake news goes down easier with a nice photo).
The writer of the bogus article described “One, 9ft, 6ft, 7ft,” without explaining how one crocodile managed being three different sizes all at the same time.
Bryan Behn, deputy director of the Merced County Parks and Recreation Department, laughed about the article on Thursday afternoon.
“We’ve been getting calls about it. It’s a totally fabricated story,” Behn told the Sun-Star. “It’s funny because I’m pretty sure (crocodiles) like warmer, tropical water, not the cold mountain run off water of the Merced River.”
One Facebook user said crocodiles at Hagaman Park were “my worst nightmare” and another user warned Stevinson residents to “beware aware.”
Behn said other than phone calls and questions from people at the park on Thursday, the prank hasn’t caused any serious problems.
The real dangers at Hagaman Park all are related to recent flooding.
“There are water currents,” Behn said, “but, no, there are no crocodiles at the park.”
Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482