I had to get up early this morning, after working late last night due to work based shenanigans.
Mid running around, getting all the animals taken care of, dogs walked, chickens fed and iced (we put ice in their waters to help keep them cool) and listening to Kellogg our newest rooster try to crow (he sounds like the worlds tiniest, saddest fog horn at the moment) I hear the news that there was a gator attack last night.
Here's a link to the story: Alligator Attacks Toddler at Disney Hotel.
This is just *sad*. This poor family is on vacation and this happens. And I don't know, I started by thinking that this is a tragedy that is no one's fault, just a...matter of nature being nature, but I'm starting to think that maybe Disney could have taken some more precautions, warned people about the danger better. But this is just based on what I'm reading in the news, not first hand knowledge, and there may be warnings and precautions I'm not aware of.
Disney has signs everywhere that the water is not for swimming because no matter how hard you patrol and attempt to make a 'gator-free' zone, the truth is that gators can wander in. They get up and walk from water source to water source in certain climates and times of the year. And they can just swim into this area, from what I understand these aren't self contained lakes.
Gators are stealthy. It's kind of their thing.
Gators are *everywhere* in Florida. It's a fact of life.
Body of water? Probably a couple of gators in there. People who grow up here just get used to it? Even people who've lived here for years get used to the idea that it is not necessarily safe to just hop in that nice looking canal or pond. Doesn't stop us from doing it, mind you, but we're at least aware of the dangers of our own actions.
This family is from Nebraska. I don't know if they've ever been to Florida before, or if this was their first trip, but there is no way that they were properly aware of the danger or they wouldn't have had their toddler in the water. No one puts their child in danger intentionally.
The one and only time my grandfather ever hit me was when I ran toward a canal when I was probably about this little boys age. He caught me and spanked me and I'm not sure which one of us was more upset, but you can bet your ass I didn't go near a canal again for years - I wasn't one of the kids jumping in to swim because, well, it left an impression.
I'm sure they saw the signs and stayed in the shallow water because they thought that was safe, because the signs say 'No Swimming'. If the signs I've seen in the news articles are accurate, they don't mention gators, just ask the visitors not to swim please. I've never stayed at the Grand Floridian so I can't say from experience if there are other warning somewhere along the beach.
Would the family have acted differently if the signs mentioned there being gators in the water, even as a possibility? I think they would have.
The articles all quote the authorities as saying that they're still holding out hope, looking for the boy. But, honestly, they're not going to find him alive. They might not even catch the right gator, if it was just passing through. A gator might not be a crocodile, though we have those in Florida too now, and no ones quite sure how they got here, so isn't that exciting, but they're still deadly. They're predators.
Earlier in the month they found the body of a man in the mouth of a gator a bit further north of where I live. They're still not sure if the gator killed him or if the man died of other causes and the gator was just feeding opportunistically.
There's a better than good chance that somewhere along the line, this gator was fed by people. Maybe not even in the area where the attack happened, mind you. Gators who are fed loose their natural caution around people. They associate people with food. And that's where attacks happen. Not all the time, but enough that it's a known factor. There's a reason we're told not to feed the wildlife.
They haven't caught the gator yet, but they've caught at least four others (adding to the tragedy is that they have to kill the gators they catch - not at all on the scale of losing your child, but just one more thing) in the area. The one that made the attack is supposed to be between 4 and 7 feet.
Let's say the average weight of a 4-foot gator is 240 lbs. A 7-foot gator might be 420 lbs. (All very rough estimates, mind). That's not 240 pounds of human. That's muscle. Prehistoric muscle. The parents tried to save their son, and miracles can happen, but the chances were never good. It's always weighted on the side of the gator.