An alligator attacked a small boy at a Disney World resort on Tuesday night, pulling him into a lagoon and away from his father's frantic attempts to save him, according to CNN.
The toddler's mother also entered the water to search for her son, but neither his parents nor rescue authorities could recover the boy from the Seven Seas Lagoon near Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel in Lake Buena Vista, near Orlando, Florida.
The family of four, including the toddler's 4-year-old sister, arrived Sunday from Nebraska. The boy is presumed dead, and his body has not been recovered.People are stunned at this gruesome event, citing the rarity of alligator attacks, but research reported in SpaceCoastDaily shows that alligators kill more people than sharks -- another animal hazard in Florida.
"From 1948 to 2005, there were nine more deaths from alligator attacks than shark attacks."Shark attacks are usually of the "hit and run" variety, where sharks mistakenly assume a human is something they would normally eat due to the person's movements. Upon biting, the sharks realize their error and swim away, leaving the victim with serious injuries but still alive. Last month at Florida's Neptune Beach, a shark bit a teenage boy in the calf. This occurred eight miles south of where an 11-year-old girl was bitten by a shark on her back, arm, and hand just the weekend before that. Both survived.
Unlike sharks, alligators might not be making a mistake when they attack humans. While crocodiles are more aggressive than alligators and much more likely to attack humans, "There is evidence that alligators are able and willing under some circumstances to utilize human victims for food," as explained on the website Animalquestions.org.
Despite the fact that deadly alligator attacks outnumber deadly shark attacks, alligator attacks are still very rare. But the Nebraskan boy in the resort lagoon seems to have fallen victim in the usual way that humans are attacked by alligators, according to the explanation on the Animal Questions website.
"[I]n every case where it was possible to ascertain... the victim was unaware of the alligator's presence until the last minute, or until the creature had actually emerged to attack."The website went on to explain that "the victim was usually stalked first by the animal, which suggests that the aggression the animal was exhibiting was hunger motivated."
Many people familiar with Florida adhere to the rule of avoiding fresh water ponds and lakes and the areas around them to avoid alligator attacks. The following is posted at the website, Florida Beach Lifestyle.
"Here is my Number 1 Rule to avoid a gator attack: I do NOT get near freshwater lakes or canals in the state of Florida."Last year, two people died in Florida from alligator attacks, breaking the state's longest streak without deadly human-alligator encounters, which ran from 2007 to 2015.
One of these victims was a man who was swimming when attacked, and the other was a burglary suspect who was attempting to evade authorities but was killed by an alligator, according to the Orlando Sentinel.As part of the search for the boy snatched one foot from the water's edge of the lagoon near the Grand Floridian, four alligators had been captured and euthanized at the time of this report.
But staff from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said, "[We] couldn't find any evidence that they were involved."County Sheriff Jerry L. Demings revealed that the father suffered lacerations on his arm when he fought unsuccessfully with the alligator to save his boy.
There have been no other alligator attacks at that Disney lagoon and no reports of nuisance alligators in the area, according to Demings.
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]