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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke May 11, 2023

The idea that Mammoth Cave National Park is imprisoning children? That’s bananas

If Your Time is short

  • This is an unfounded interpretation of a benign National Park Service Instagram post.

A benign Instagram post shared by the National Park Service has gotten a QAnon makeover in some social media corners. 

On May 8, the park service posted a picture of a banana inside a cave passageway at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. It was using the banana to illustrate just how big the cave is. 

"According to the park, Mammoth Cave is approximately 3.37 million bananas long (banana for scale) which equals to about 426 miles (686 km) of surveyed passageway," the park service wrote in the post’s caption. "Wow! That’s a bunch! While we know that Mammoth Cave is the world's longest known cave system, we haven't discovered all of it yet! Park partners like the Cave Research Foundation (CRF) are continuously mapping and surveying the cave to help us better understand the resource."

A day later, a screenshot of that post was shared on Instagram with a new caption: "National Parks Service is telling those who are ‘read in’ via a (banana emoji) that a DUMB filled with children/monkeys has been freed from the alligators (adrenochrome harvesters/human traffickers)."

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This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

Claims that the park service is signaling to savvy readers that children have been freed from a deep underground military base — aka DUMB — where human traffickers were holding them captive is baseless, and taps into multiple QAnon movement themes. Among them: adrenochrome, a chemical compound produced by the oxidation of adrenaline. Adrenochrome features heavily in QAnon conspiracy theories espousing the baseless idea that a global cabal of pedophiles is harvesting the chemical from children’s blood to stay young and healthy. 

Mammoth Cave isn’t such a hostage site. It’s one of Earth’s most extensive cave systems, twice as long as any known cave with more than 365 miles of surveyed passageways.

We rate this post Pants on Fire!


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The idea that Mammoth Cave National Park is imprisoning children? That’s bananas

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