Animal health assistant, Daniel Kinaa Mutui confirms venomous snakes at Nairobi''s snake park are housed behind a thick glass ( AFP / SIMON MAINA)

Kenya officials deny claims floods washed away dangerous reptiles from Nairobi’s snake park

Torrential rains in Kenya and neighbouring countries have caused devasting flooding in recent weeks, killing hundreds of people and displacing thousands more. Posts shared hundreds of times claimed venomous snakes and crocodiles sheltered at a park in Kenya’s capital Nairobi had been washed away, warning the public to “be vigilant”. However, this is false: the National Museums of Kenya, which harbours the reptiles, dismissed the claims and said the reptiles were “securely housed”. AFP Fact Check visited the park and confirmed venomous snakes were housed behind thick glass-walled rooms. There were no visible signs of flooding or damage.

On May 2, 2024, a Facebook page called “Kenya Police Media” claimed venomous snakes and crocodiles from a snake park in Nairobi had been swept away by the heavy rains currently causing havoc in East Africa.

The post, which was shared more than 100 times on Facebook, warns residents to “be vigilant”.

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A screenshot of the false Facebook post, taken on May 3, 2024

The claim was repeated on Facebook, on X (here and here), on TikTok and in WhatsApp groups.

Another Facebook user shared the same claim alongside an image showing the entrance of a game reserve under water.

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A screenshot of the false post, taken on May 6, 2024

Torrential rains have lashed much of the East African region, triggering flooding and landslides that have destroyed crops, swallowed homes, and displaced hundreds of thousands of people (archived here).

While flooding has affected Nairobi, claims that the snakes and crocodiles from a city park were swept away are false.

The snake park in question is housed within the Nairobi National Museum, which is located on Museum Hill some 2.5 kilometres from Nairobi Central Business District (CBD).

On May 2, 2024, when the false posts started circulating, the National Museums of Kenya dismissed the claims in a statement on Facebook (archived here).

“This is to inform the public that at the National Museums of Kenya, the safety and security of all our live exhibits are paramount,” it said.

“Each exhibit is securely housed in its appropriate enclosure, guaranteeing their well- being and preservation.”

Margaret Njeri, a spokeswoman at the snake park, told AFP Fact Check: “The news circulating are (is) fake (sic)”.

During a site visit, AFP Fact Check confirmed the park has about 100 snakes. The venomous species are housed behind thick glass-walled rooms that remain shut.

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Animal health assistant Daniel Kinaa Mutui looks after adder snakes at the Nairobi National Museum (AFP / Simon MAINA)

Three Nile crocodiles and one alligator, which is 50 years old, are all secured behind a fence.

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A Nile crocodile is seen behind a fence at Nairobi''s snake park (AFP / SIMON MAINA)

Njeri said the topography of the snake park made it difficult for flooding to occur as water flows right into the Nairobi River below it.

AFP Fact Check saw no visible sign of flooding on the property or damage that would allow snakes and crocodiles to escape or be washed away.

Amid the floods, there were local reports about snakes swept into homes in western Kenya (archived here).

Meanwhile, a reverse image search of the post featuring a picture of a flooded game park entrance reveals the image shows the Maasai Mara wildlife reserve. A similar picture was published by local media here (archived report).

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A screenshot of the local news report, taken on May 6, 2024

Last week, nearly 100 tourists were among people marooned at the park after a river overflowed (archived here). 

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