This is SO shocking! Just weeks before an alligator tragically killed a toddler at a Disney World resort, firefighters were warned to stop feeding the reptiles lurking in a nearby area! Could their actions have contributed to the little boy’s death?
Lane Graves, a two-year-old boy from Nebraska, was vacationing with his family in Walt Disney World when he got snatched by an alligator at a Disney resort on June 14. Days later the boy was found dead. Since, his death has caused quite a bit of controversy — and it looks like it’s only getting worse. In recently recovered emails, it was revealed that firefighters had been feeding alligators super close to where Lane was killed; an act that is deemed both careless AND illegal!
“You would think that the firefighters would be a little bit more in tune with the trouble that could cause and not do it,” David Hitzig, executive director of the Busch Wildlife Center, told the Orlando Sentinel. “You would figure they would have more common sense than that. … When you feed an alligator, you’re attracting it to people.”
These newly released emails reveal that firefighters had been feeding at least one alligator less than half a mile from the Disney World lagoon where 2-year-old Lane Graves was snatched and killed last month. Even worse, supervisors at Reedy Creek Emergency Services, which serves Disney World and nearby communities, were sent emails back in April warning employees to STOP feeding the reptiles because it is both illegal and could make them lose their fear of humans, according to the publication.
In fact, communications captain, Claude Rogers, even sent an email to Reedy Creek’s fire command staff on April 20 alerting them to the problem. “It was brought to our attention firefighters are feeding the alligators (this is illegal),” Claude’s email stated. “The communicators have found [one alligator] by the station, near the dumpster, and where they park their cars. As you can imagine this is making the communicators nervous because they are fearful of walking to their car and their leg becoming dinner. We have notified Animal Control to remove the alligator. In the interim could you ask your crews to stop feeding the gator.”
Reedy Creek District Administrator John Classe said Disney’s animal-control department was contacted but he did not know whether or not either alligator was ever removed. He said the firefighters only received “a talking to.” It’s pretty clear that not much action was taken at all!
And there’s no question action SHOULD have been taken! Typically nuisance gators under four feet are relocated while larger ones are trapped and killed by the state. The alligator that attacked Lane was estimated to be between four and seven feet.
After Claude’s initial email, he sent another one to Reedy Creek communications employees. “Several people have expressed concern of becoming alligator food because the alligator is seen out of the pond near the building, by the dumpster, and near the cars,” he wrote. “The firefighters feeding the alligator only aggravates the situation….. Animal Control has been notified and I have spoken to B/C Brown requesting they tell the firefighters to stop feeding the alligator.”
Following the toddler’s death, Disney installed new warning signs and barriers around the area, as the only sign at the time of the incident told guests no swimming was permitted in the Seven Seas Lagoon. Lane had only been playing in about a foot of water when he was attacked.
Tell us, HollywoodLifers — are you as shocked as we are that firefighters were feeding the dangerous alligators where Lane was killed?