Disney reopens beaches after fatal gator attack
2-year-old pulled underwater by gator at Grand Floridian
ORLANDO, Fla. – Disney World announced Thursday that it is reopening its beaches after an alligator attacked and killed a 2-year-old boy.
"Resort beaches are now available to guests one hour after sunrise until one hour prior to sunset," Disney said in a statement. "These areas now include signage and temporary barriers to further promote safety at our resort and we continue to work on permanent, long-term solutions. Cast Members will staff the beaches to assist Guests.
Walt Disney World Resort hotels with marinas are also now offering all boat rentals for guests.
Lane Graves was killed last week after being taken underwater by an alligator at the Seven Seas Lagoon at the Grand Floridian Resort. He was playing in shallow waters when the gator grabbed him. His father tried to save him but was unable to do so.
Disney captured and killed 244 alligators at its parks over the last 10 years. The animals ranged from 4 to 13 feet long.
The frequency of serious, unprovoked alligator bites has grown in Florida along with the state's population, but fatal attacks remain rare. Some things to know about alligators from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission:
More than a million alligators live throughout Florida, though the species remains listed as a protected species, because it closely resembles the endangered American crocodile.
Alligators can be found in fresh and brackish bodies of water, including lakes, rivers, canals and golf course ponds, and there are an estimated 6.7 million acres of suitable habitat statewide. Alligator bites are most likely to occur in or around water, as gators aren't well-equipped to capture prey on dry land.
Alligators are opportunistic feeders that will eat what is readily available and easily overpowered. It's illegal to feed wild alligators, because that causes them to lose their fear of humans. While gators can lunge at prey along a shoreline, there's no evidence of alligators running after people or other animals on land.
Hides, meat and other parts from legally harvested alligators can be sold. In 2014, the hides and meat from harvested gators was worth $6.8 million.
There have been 23 fatalities caused by wild alligators in Florida since 1973, among 383 unprovoked bites not caused by someone handling or intentionally harassing an alligator. Florida averages about seven serious unprovoked bites a year, and officials put the odds of someone being seriously injured by an unprovoked alligator in Florida at roughly one in 2.4 million.
Most of the eight children and 15 adults killed by alligators had been in freshwater bodies of water. Other victims include a 2-year-old girl who wandered 700 feet from her fenced backyard, a 3-year-old boy who left a roped-off swimming area in a county park to pick lily pads, a 36-year-old man who was swimming across a pond while trying to elude police, a 54-year-old woman who was landscaping near a pond and an 82-year-old man who was killed while walking his dog on a path between two wetland areas.
If an alligator bites you, make a commotion. Hit or kick the alligator, or poke it in its eyes, because alligators will retreat from prey they can't easily overwhelm.
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