Many blame Disney for the alligator attack that took a toddler’s life this week. Two-year-old Lane Graves was dragged from very shallow water on a lake beach at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. His body was found intact, with authorities revealing that he died of drowning and traumatic injuries.
CNN spoke with Scott Vuncannon of Marsh Landing Adventures, an airboat captain who takes tourists out on the waters of Florida to sightsee and observe alligators.
There have been two sides to the argument regarding the Disney alligator attack. While one side believes the theme park should’ve put stronger safety measures in place, others assert that Disney is located around a reptile’s natural habitat… and that this is an accident waiting to happen due to humans invading in their space.
Vuncannon said the alligator responsible for pulling Lane into the water was fed once before by a human. He insists that “somebody at some point in time fed that alligator.” He reveals this could have been years — even decades ago.
“Feed it once, and he’ll associate all humans with food,” Vuncannon said. “One of them fed me before, one of them will feed me now.”
Lane Graves died just after 9 p.m., a time Vuncannon says is an alligator’s “prime feeding time.”
He was trying to be sensitive in his words, but basically implied the child was seen as bait of some sort.
The boat captain explained that alligators aren’t the smartest creatures, despite their millions of years of evolution.
— FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) June 17, 2016
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said the following of the Disney alligator attack.
“This is Florida, and it’s not uncommon for alligators to be in bodies of water.”
Vuncannon emphatically said that it’s not alright to feed an alligator and think it’s okay since nothing happened. He said at that point in time you have “changed that alligator’s mindset.”
Signs at the Grand Floridian warn visitors against swimming, but they don’t directly mention wildlife or alligators. A high-level Disney source told CNN that that’s about to change. Alligator warnings will be posted on all resort waterways.
Disney says it will ‘thoroughly review’ alligator warning signage after deadly attack https://t.co/O5f0EWAse1
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 16, 2016
Fox News reports that a Disney official said the organization plans to “thoroughly review” its alligator signage warnings around the resort where the toddler was killed.
As for the second argument, some feel Disney should remove all reptiles from its vast waters. Vuncannon said that’s a futile move because male alligators want their own territory, which can be as broad as two miles. They’ll travel far and wide to find it, and are willing to sacrifice a limb or die from the jaws of other alligators in order to obtain it. It would be easy for the reptile to venture a 30-mile radius to the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney to control its own territory. Vuncannon says they’re known to travel even further.
Aside from that, Vuncannon said it’s “an impossibility” for Disney could hire a fleet of boats with trappers assigned to do nothing more than snare the alligators, adding that “you’re never going to get rid of them.”
As the airboat captain continues, it’s hard enough to keep alligators from entering your swimming pool, let alone a 27,500-acre scale of property like Disney.
“Kind of think of it as a criminal,” Vuncannon said. “If a crook wants to get in, a crook’s going to get in… There’s nothing any theme park can do to stop (an alligator) from getting in.”
Vuncannon concluded by saying the Disney alligator attack was a terrible, freak accident, and that it shouldn’t hamper people’s plans to visit the theme park.
[Image via Shutterstock]