Sunday, June 19, 2016
Walt Disney World is Down an Alligator Hole in Orlando
Orlando has witnessed three inexplicable, horrific tragedies over the past two weeks. First was the killing of Christina Grammie while signing autographs after a performance. Second was the Jihadist massacre in the Pulse Nightclub, killing 49 innocent victims and wounding 53. Third was the alligator snatching a 2 year old boy out of the arms of his father by the Grand Floridian at Disney World. The first two probably could not have been prevented except through onerous security that Americans will not yet accept. The Disney tragedy was a death that Disney could easily have prevented. Disney is going to have to settle this case quickly. They do not want a public trial, not just for the adverse publicity, but it will show how arrogant and reckless they were in managing the resort. More and more disclosures are coming out about how careless Disney was in handling the alligator problem. A video surfaced today of a Disney employee shooing an alligator away from Splash Mountain. Alligators are amazing animals. They survived the Age of the Dinosaurs with little evolutionary change. They are near perfect killing machines. They have a brain the size of the pea, but genetics makes up for the lack of brainpower. They’re cold blooded so they don’t need a high calorie diet. Indeed, they can go months without eating. They are quick in snatching an opportunity. Baby alligators have to worry about large, cannibalistic alligators and some predatory birds and fishes. Grown alligators though only have one enemy; i.e. humans with a gun. Alligators were hunted almost to extinction decades ago, but now that they were listed on the Endangered Species List in 1967. They’ve rebounded with a vengeance, back to an estimated 1.25 to 1.4 million in Florida alone. Alligators can show up in freshwater anywhere in Florida, including backyard swimming pools. Salt water crocodiles have made a similar comeback in Australia. Alligators respond to vibrations in the water. It tells them prey has entered their territory. They are stealth hunters, often approaching under water, followed by a sudden jump, accompanied by no warning. The two year old wading and splashing in the water, as young kids do, was helpless. The alligator, presumably a teen by its estimated size, seemingly jumped out of nowhere the grab the child. The father rushed and grabbed his son, but could not wrestle it back from the gator. Disney was cavalier in its attitude towards the risk of alligators. They claim there were no incidents in 45 years of Disney World. They claim the number of alligator attacks on humans is very low in Florida. One statistic is 383 attacks on humans between 1948 and 2015 with 23 fatalities. This was a tragedy waiting to happen. Floridians not only understand the risks of alligators, but they exult in them: The University of Florida Gators, the Gator Bowl, Alligator Alley, alligator farms, alligator wrestling, alligator feedings, and gator food, such as gator ribs, gator burgers, and gator chowder. Floridians are not stupid. They do not go swimming with alligators in their swimming pools. They tell their children to stay away from the water, especially at night. Gators may have pea size brains, but they remember who feeds them. Florida has rules against feeding the gators, but Disney employees are reported to have looked the other way at guests feeding the gators. Alligators quite often attack at night. The family from Nebraska was at the resort’s outdoor night time movie besides on the side of the lagoon. The tragedy was going to happen, sooner or later. Disney World created the risk and has tolerated it. The lagoon by the Grand Floridian is non-natural, created by Disney to add ambience to the resort. It is also attached the lagoon to existing, natural bodies of waters, thereby providing easy access for wandering gators. Disney World provided no warning to guests. The posted warning said “Deep water No swimming.” The warning was clearly inadequate. It said nothing about wading and provided no warning of the dangers of alligators. Other facilities in Florida provide detailed warnings about alligators. Disney claims to remove nuisance alligators, but t’s unclear when that most recently occurred. A San Diego layer visited Disney World in 2013 with his family. They were at Disney’s Coronado Springs resort when he noticed a gator eyeballing his 5 year old son. He grabbed his son and pulled him away. He then told the hotel manager of the close encounter. He says the response was:” These are resident pets., and we’ve known about them for years. And they’re harmless That Disney employee has a pea brain. They’re not going to attack anyone.” Cha-ching, Cha-ching, Cha-ching! Punitive damages! Alligators are not pets. They are not domesticated. They are wild killing machines. If only I were a trial lawyer, representing the family in this case.