Guess you heard about that adorable 2-year-old snatched by an alligator at a Disney resort in Central Florida. Before I checked this out, I figured it was a terrible fluke. But the youngster was on the gator’s turf at a bad time. From The New York Times:
Lane Graves was doing what any 2-year-old boy would be doing on a hot Florida evening – splashing around in the shallow waters of a lagoon. His parents and sister, Nebraskans all, were nearby on the beach at a Disney resort here, relaxing, carefree. Suddenly, an alligator sprang from the water and clamped its jaws around the boy. Lane’s father, Matt Graves, bounded into the lagoon to wrestle his son from the animal’s steel-trap grasp, but lost the battle …
Note that the wretched overwriting is from the Times, not moi. But that’s beside the point. A rewrite man in Manhattan probably produced that lead sentence, because anybody who has ever been to Florida knows that gators can lurk in every body of fresh water. They sleep during the day, start stirring at dusk, and if they are hungry they will grab your pet or even a 2-year-old who should not have been in the water.
Should Disney have posted a “beware of gators” sign? Probably not; there was already a sign prohibiting swimming in the lagoon. Did the folks from Omaha realize how deadly Florida wildlife can be? Perhaps they didn’t. Will a lawsuit be filed? Surely, as long as a sleazy lawyer in the state is drawing breath.
More from the Times: The resort, which has closed its beaches for the time being, has a wildlife management team that monitors alligators and other animals and regularly removes any that appear to be troublesome, according to Nick Wiley, executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. He said that alligator attacks were "not common at all" but that alligators were capable of moving across land and underwater so fencing them off was not a feasible option.
Decades of conservation have increased the number of gators in Florida, maybe to 1.5 million; it’s not uncommon to see them beside freeways. Recent videos have been posted online showing gators lumbering across golf courses. One near Savannah could have passed for the Loch Ness Monster. Golfers say he usually hangs out between the second and third fairways. But suppose he moves to the back nine overnight? Wise animals know that water hazards in warm climates can spring to life.