ORLANDO, Fla. (CNN) – The death of a two-year-old boy by an alligator at Disney World is horrific. It’s also rare. The only other reported incident was 30 years old when an eight year old was bitten. That doesn’t mean alligators are rare at Disney.
A YouTube search reveals plenty of videos capturing tourist run-ins with the reptiles. One shows an alligator at the splash mountain ride just feet from tourists passing by. At one point what looks like a Disney employee is seen using a pole to keep him away. Another video shows an alligator swimming in a water hazard at a Disney golf course.
Florida officials say Disney routinely has to remove alligators from its properties.
Nick Wiley, Executive Director of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation said, “Disney has been very proactive with regard to dealing with alligators and, as the sheriff said, full time staff observing these waters.”
But is it enough? To find out, I head off in an air boat. Alligators are indigenous to Florida, with an estimated one-point-three million alligators across the tropical state.
Scott Vuncannon of Marsh Landing Adventures makes his living off alligators and tourists. Scott said, “Look right past it sticking its head up right there in side that grass line.”
And he’s never had a problem with gators. Scott said, “Alligators are more scared of you then you are of them. If you jump in the water right now that alligator’s going to run from you not to you.”
He says when problems do occur it’s usually people who are at fault. The biggest mistake, feeding alligators. Scott said, “If you feed an alligator one time, you’re going to condition that alligator whether it’s one day old or one day away from death to associate all humans with food.”
YouTube videos show guests at Disney feeding alligators, in this one a mother records as her children toss in popcorn. The danger is so serious that feeding alligators in the wild is against Florida law. Some have also wondered why Disney hasn’t put up fencing to keep alligators out of its properties. Vuncannon says he’s seeking gators climb a chain link fence, something I doubted until I saw this video.
Of a five-foot alligator scaling a backyard fence with no problem. Vuncannon believes what happened to two-year-old lane graves was a perfect storm of incredibly rare tragic events. No one could have foreseen or stopped.
Scott said, “Disney could hire a fleet of people to do nothing but go through and eradicate alligators… you’re never going to get rid of them.”
A senior source at Disney tells CNN that gator warning signs will be put up near all the waterways at Walt Disney World.