Last week, a toddler was attacked by an alligator at the Disney Grand Floridian Hotel in Orlando, Florida. He was snatched from his father’s grasp and dragged under water by the alligator. His body was later found and the cause of death was determined to be drowning. Many people are wondering why the mother in the Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla incident was attacked so horribly online and in the media while the parents of this child only received an outpouring of grief and support. The answer is simple: the incidents are nothing alike. Aside from the fact that the children were within the same age range, the similarities end there.
In Cincinnati, the child actively climbed into the gorilla’s enclosure while the animal was minding his own business. In Florida, the child was snatched from his father’s grasp. The mother of the child in Cincinnati was heard repeatedly arguing with her child as he claimed to want to go into the exhibit while the father of the child in Florida was simply walking alongside the body of water with his son.
Alligators can jump out of water to strike their prey, which is why most natives of areas where gators are present avoid being near bodies of water where gators have been sighted in the past. The family in Florida was from Nebraska and they were simply tourists in the area. The hotel had put signs up telling guests that swimming was not allowed, but there were no signs indicating alligators were present in the water.
Now, the family is said to have been wading in the water, so that is their responsibility, but the father actually tried to wrestle with the alligator to get his child back. The mother in Cincinnati had to be told what the child was wearing before she could confirm that it was her son. This is basically comparing an act of poor parenting choices to an act of absent parenting.
The incident in Cincinnati was entirely preventable if the mother had simply removed her son from the environment. And perhaps the incident in Florida could have been prevented if the family had not been wading in the water. But the issue is that bodies of water in Florida are often home to a wide variety of fauna, including water snakes and alligators. Policing these waterways can be incredibly difficult as these animals are migratory and do not stay in one location their entire lives.
Of course, the hotel should have done a better job of monitoring the contents and inhabitants of its bodies of water, but the family was not swimming and were technically obeying the sign. This was a case of nature coming too close to civilization, or perhaps of civilization coming too close to nature.