MIAMI, Florida –
College football team The Florida Gators has announced it will be changing its name following the death of a two-year-old boy who was grabbed and drowned by an alligator while vacationing with his family at the Disney World Resort in Florida.
The alligator snatched the toddler as he played at the edge of the Seven Seas Lagoon, a manmade lake at the Walt Disney resort.The boy’s parents, who were relaxing on the white sand shore nearby, sprang into action in a failed attempt to pry their child from the predator’s grip. A lifeguard who was on duty was unable to reach the boy before the alligator swam away with him.
Although the parents did not request the SEC Eastern Division champions change their name, the athletics department at the State University System of Florida says they have received a lot of public pressure. Coach Jim McElwain says he fears it may affect the team. “Personally, I think alligators get a bad rap. I’m worried a name change this close to start of the season is unrealistic and may affect team moral.”
The team has not settled on a new name, but the Raging Retires and Orange Crushers has been proposed.
ORLANDO, Florida –
Some 50 wildlife specialists — including a trained alligator trapper — are combing a lake Wednesday at a Disney World resort hotel looking for a 2-year-old boy who was snatched by a seven or eight-foot alligator while wading on the beach. The boy was grabbed Tuesday evening while playing in about a foot of water at the Seven Seas Lagoon at the Grand Floridian Hotel with his father Tuesday evening.
Four alligators have been removed from the lagoon and are being tested for human remains, after being euthanized. Activists are protesting the actions of the Florida Fish and Wildlife agency, saying that innocent alligators should not be sacrificed to recover remains of the toddler.
National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) representative, Shawn Powers blames the parents. “I am sickened by the attack on alligators following the tragic loss of the toddler at Disney. First it was the Cincinnati Zoo gorilla and now these innocent alligators. People are invading their habitats. That boy had no place in the gorilla pen, and these shouldn’t have let that toddler near the lagoon. There were signs saying ‘no swimming,’ but they let the boy play in the water anyway. I think they let it happen. They let the boy get taken by the alligator. It’s sick what people will do for 15 minutes of fame, and think of all the money they stand to make on their GoFundMe page.”
Others say all alligators should be exterminated. Although the species was endangered a few years ago, the population has exploded to 1.5 million gators. “This was a man made lagoon,” says Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings. “Gators have no respect for borders. They’re worse than the damn Cubans that way.”
Walt Disney World has been aiding in the search. Although they took all conceivable precautions, and do not admit accountability, they will be offering an all expenses paid trip for the family to Disney Land. “We understand they will probably not want to visit Disney World again, after the tragedy, but we would like to give their family the opportunity to make new memories at Disney Land, a later date. Our thoughts are with the family at this time,” says Disney representative Michelle Broder Van Dyke.