Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time knows that I think Disney is a horrible company, and I rarely defend them, but in the case of the alligator attack, I think placing blame on Disney is wrong.
A gator is a wild animal. They are EVERYWHERE in Florida, as are other animals that have been known to attack and even kill in Florida: rattlesnakes, bees, Black widow and Brown Recluse spiders, Black Bears, Bobcats, wasps, and Cottonmouth Moccasins, not to mention sharks. All of these animals can and do kill people, especially small children. As a child growing up here, there were some things that I was taught:
1 Don’t put your hands or feet anywhere that you cannot see.
2 Step on logs, not over them.
3 Piles of debris like firewood and leaves are home to rattlesnakes and vnomous spiders. Do not let children play in them.
4 Assume that all natural bodies of water have alligators in them.
5 Breeding and egg laying season is April through September. Alligators are dangerous and territorial during this time.
6 Do not let toddlers and pets play near water. They are small enough to be food for alligators.
7 Do not swim in the ocean, ponds, lakes, or any other natural body of water from a half hour before sunset to a half hour after sunrise. The dark hours are when predators hunt, and are the times when human senses are degraded.
The local theme parks hire off duty police, fire, and EMS personnel to staff their parks. I had part time a job at one of them in the Health Services Department. I once saw a man and a small child feeding a squirrel, and told them to stop, because the squirrels are known to be aggressive. The father told me, “Mind your own f**king business.”
Ten minutes later, I was called to return to that area for an animal bite. You guessed it, the squirrel had bitten the little girl. The father was there, demanding that we locate and kill the squirrel to make sure it wasn’t rabid. I laughed and explained to him that we were not likely to find the same squirrel again (there are hundreds of them in that area) and that his daughter would have to go to the doctor for the rabies vaccines. I made sure to document the earlier contact in my report, because you just know he was going to hire a lawyer.
This alligator attack would not be national news if the child had been killed by a swam of bees, a spider, a snake, or had drowned. There was a no swimming sign there for a reason. Now there are people who claim that the “No swimming” sign should have been more specific, and specifically warned of alligators. I disagree, because what would have happened if the sign had specifically warned of alligators, and the child had been bitten by a water moccasin? Should the sign warn of snakes as well? Just how large and comprehensive should these signs be?
When you go swimming in a body of water that is plainly posted with a “No Swimming” sign, you have no one to blame but yourself when something goes wrong.