These sorts of near-misses aren't even as recent as this millennium. Check out this account from exactly 30 years ago, and see if any of the details ring a bell:
Joseph and Roberta Santamaria sued last week in federal court in Orlando seeking an unspecified amount in damages for them and their son Paul, now 9, who was attacked at a pond at the Fort Wilderness campground in October 1986. The suit says the boy was pulled into the pond by the gator while he was kneeling and feeding ducks. He was rescued by a brother who knocked the reptile on the head and his sister, who pulled Paul out of the gator's mouth. The boy suffered knee and thigh injuries. The suit charges Disney failed to warn visitors about the alligator, which often sought out people to feed it after "losing its fear of humans."
An unfortunate plot development that could not be solved through true love's kiss.
That last part is important. But why were the gators in the vicinity becoming so bold, creeping up on humans like carnivorous pigeons to a senior citizen tossing bits of meatloaf from a park bench? Well, it turns out tourists have been feeding these cold-blooded deathbringers for years. And the reason that Disney didn't take the strict safety measures that one might expect was reportedly because they didn't want to upset the wealthy guests staying in their upscale resorts, who loved tossing the reptiles treats from the safety of their elevated bungalows. In fact, the presence of the alligators may have all been part of a grand scheme, as one "insider" told The Wrap: "With the opening of the bungalows, it brought the guests that much closer to wildlife. Or, the wildlife that much closer to the guests."
To their credit, any live chickens had to be purchased off-site.
A lot of (horrible) people placed the blame squarely on the parents when their toddler was dragged to an untimely death. But I was on that same beach a year before, and I can tell you right now that an alligator attack was the last thing you would expect. Yes, we were in Florida, but this is a man-made lake in the Happiest Place On Earth we're talking about. And while there were "No Swimming" signs around, I didn't see a single one mentioning that a creature whose bite power could lift a truck might be nearby. When my wife asked why swimming wasn't allowed, she was told it had to do with "bacteria levels," and I will be happy to sign an affidavit affirming same. Combine that with the fact that every night there are fireworks and "electric water pageants" drawing visitors close to shore, and the tragedy seems inevitable in retrospect. As inevitable as a douchebag in a beach-adjacent bungalow taking selfies while dropping the remainder of a room-service Mickey burger into the jaws of a predator.
E. Reid Ross also pokes various creatures with a stick over at The Featured Creature. Feel free to follow him on Twitter here.
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