Following the tragic alligator attack of a 2 year old at Walt Disney World, multiple alligators were euthanized as part of the search effort. Was this really necessary? In addition, the media has called into question Disney’s liability for the tragedy for lack of signs warning of alligators. While a tragedy, are additional signs necessary and does this set a precedent for signage at golf courses, lakes, etc? Are signs necessary to warn of snakes, spiders, etc?

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-Euthanizing many alligators in search of the alligator that snatched the child was necessary on one level, but unnecessary on another. The human desire to see justice done, to understand why, to place blame, and to right a wrong dictate that the offending alligator needed to be found. Since more than one alligator was in the vicinity and presumably hiding in the water, which made it nearly impossible to identify the culprit, multiple alligators had to be killed.

However, if we consider the human race just another species on the planet—albeit the most highly evolved species—and put the child’s death into the context of a member of the herd being culled out by a predator, it’s obvious that randomly killing innocent members of the offending species was a gross overreaction. Any other species on the planet would consider this ludicrous if not unthinkable.

When a mother bear has a cub that is taken by a predator, she does not seek justice or exact revenge randomly. She may fight the predator to the death to save her cub, but if she loses, that’s the end of it. The same goes for all other species. Predators eat their prey. The weak, old, sick, and young are the most vulnerable. The only species capable of killing other species for reasons other than food or self-defense are humans, yet we rationalize those random killings in the name of justice or revenge.

A precedent need not be set by this tragedy. Acts of nature are unpredictable and random and no one or no business should be held liable for such dangers. Hikers in national parks are attacked and/or killed by grizzly bears on a regular basis. Golfers, campers, and other individuals who are outdoors are randomly killed by lightning. People are injured and killed from tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, poisonous insect or animal bites, and many other “natural causes” yet we don’t sue those national parks, golf course owners, or property owners where a poisonous snake lives.

Regarding warning signs, fences, etc.: Once again, it comes down to individual responsibility. Parents must take the time to understand their environment, especially when visiting an unfamiliar location. Any parent who doesn’t know alligators inhabit all parts of Florida is guilty of gross negligence due to ignorance of the facts.

Putting up warning signs will certainly prevent some accidental deaths, but it won’t prevent humans from doing stupid things or taking foolish risks. That stupidity and foolishness are what makes us humans. We’re just lucky enough that the vast majority of the time it doesn’t kill us. If an adult can’t navigate through life without warning signs or fences guiding their actions every moment, perhaps they are the members of the species who need to be culled from the herd.

Prescott Valley, NV Correspondent-The Disney World alligators were euthanized as part of the search effort in order to determine if any one of the animals was the alligator that attacked the 2-year old. The five alligators were euthanized to prevent difficulties with the analyzing process, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation stated that euthanization was necessary in order to thoroughly examine the animals for signs of trauma and other issues. The process would probably not have been necessary had the actual alligator that drowned the child been captured, but with the number of alligators in the area, that would have been hard to accomplish. So, it probably was necessary to eliminate the five in hopes of finding the child’s killer.

Sign posting concerning swimming and alligators appeared to be evident with some of the other resorts in the area, and Disney World recently announced, after the tragedy, that new signs would be posted within the coming days and weeks around the Seven Seas Lagoon and beach areas. The new signs would specifically state no swimming along with alligator warnings. Though the “no swimming” signs were in the area, there were no warnings for alligators.

The beaches in the Disney World area have been closed and have been made off-limits to all guests and visitors until further notice. Disney spokespersons also stated that there would be reviews of their procedures and formalities for such incidents and that the number of signs placed and the wording used for the signs would be reviewed.

Disney’s liability for the tragedy has been called into question by the media and others, particularly with park workers and other officials knowing that alligators were living in the lagoon area and could attack at any time. The lack of warnings and controls in place would be cause for great concern over possible attacks and ensuing lawsuits from visitors and hotel guests vacationing in the lagoon and beach areas. Disney must assume responsibility for the dangers that are part of the areas of the resort, and must protect visitors from these inherent dangers.

If the Graves family does pursue a case for damages in their child’s death, Disney would be best served by settling out of court with the family and, at the same time, certainly acknowledging that this kind of tragedy could have been prevented had the proper precautions been taken. It was oversight on their part and requires rectification. With the millions upon millions of visitors to the park every year, Disney certainly cannot afford innumerable accidents and tragedies to sully their image.

The tragic occurrence at Disney World may set precedence for additional signs at other public vacation spots, but many of these areas that have ingrained dangers oftentimes have signs that state, “swim or use the area at your own risk.” The public needs to recognize inherent hazards with other theme parks, the outdoors, and any creatures or physical barriers that may cause danger in the immediate vicinity.

Warning signs are necessary for extremely dangerous animals or insects that live in certain habitats of national forests, national parks, national monuments or other private parks, but signs posted everywhere in an area that may present possible danger from anything would mount a full-scale plastering of everything perceived as a risk.

People need to educate themselves before they go trekking down a trail for an off the beaten track adventure, or get on a dangerous ride at a theme park or go near water that may present dangers. Perhaps the parents of the young child should have been more astute about the “no swimming” sign at the Disney Lagoon area and not allowed their son to wade in the water, as that oversight was part of the tragedy.

With the relaxed attitude that a playful and magical place like Disney World can generate, it is easy for anyone to let down their guard and be unaware of dangers. In this case, an innocent child bore the brunt of the inefficiencies and failures of Disney administrators to establish ground rules for accidents and other possible incidents. If signs have to be plastered in people’s faces to make them aware of dangers, maybe they will take notice of what can happen at any time-if they’ll read them. It’s just too bad that an innocent child’s death at the hands of nature had to wake the Disney establishment to the real world aside from “Disney World.”

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-Welcome to the Nanny State! You’re going to need to allow an extra hour or two every day to read all the new warning signs we’ve posted in the interest of keeping you safe. At every crosswalk, there are signs warning you that cars and trucks may be present in the road. At the swimming pool, there’s a sign warning that you are about to be near water, which is a known hazard to human life. In every restaurant, there will be multiple graphic posters detailing the dangers of everything from choking to obesity, and there will be certified Heimlich maneuver experts stationed at every seat to ensure your safety. This extra protection means that a cheeseburger will now cost $350, but there’s not price on safety, right?

If the first paragraph made you laugh, you need to start paying attention, because we are coming dangerously close to living in the world I describe. Yes, the death of the toddler in Florida was a horrific incident. However, there were “no swimming” signs posted at the lake. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that semi-swampy bodies of fresh water in Florida are likely to harbor alligators, and the child was engaging in exactly the sort of behavior that triggers a gator’s hunting instinct…wading in shallow water at the edge, just like a deer, dog or other mammal might do.

The parents should have obeyed the sign and added a dose of common sense to tell them the water wasn’t the place for the child to be. And common sense should be expected of all of us in our daily lives. We’re too busy checking our phones and keeping our attention directed anywhere but our immediate surroundings, and such behavior comes with consequences.

Get smart. Pay attention to your surroundings and protect yourself and your children before there are consequences. Warning signs don’t prevent stupidity.

Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent-The incident with the 2 year old dragged away by an alligator was a tragic one. My condolence to the family. In an attempt to locate his body, several alligators died during such search. This was very necessary and if it had to be done again, I’d say, “do it”.

There has been criticisms from the public with regards to parenting, but who would expect to be carried off by alligators, especially at Walt Disney World? That family went on a vacation. Sadly, it turned out to be only terror and heartache. If proper signs were placed in appropriate areas, the little boy would still be breathing. Disney did include a sign, however, it did not mention anything about alligators. From what I heard propagated through the media, there was only a “no swimming sign. That sign really misrepresented the true nature of the incident. If the sign had shown “beware of alligators” or something along that line, the parents would not have ventured in that direction. How negligent of Disney. They should be held liable.

The occurrence of this incident should be a precedence. Businesses and attraction locations should include transparent and candid signs, not vague ones. Signs were made to protect people and warn them of dangers. Sadly, Disney failed to provide proper warning. The life of the boy cannot be replaced but other lives can be spared. Please, use proper signage to prevent things as heinous as this one from occurring.

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