Of Alligators, Gorillas, Tragedy and Blame

There eintsyifaf
has been an outpouring of online sympathy for the parents of the boy who was killed by an alligator at a Disney resort in Orlando, which just goes to show that sometimes the internet has a heart, and sometimes it calls for blood.
The question is why.
In contrast with the half a million people who signed a petition against Michelle Gregg, the mom whose 3-year-old son got into the gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo, leading zookeepers to kill 400-pound Harambe, commenters have not gone insane over the fact that officials have already “put down” four Disney-area alligators, without being positive which of them, if any, dragged 2-year-old Lane Graves to his death.
If you can believe it, even CNN managed to keep some semblance of sanity, running a chart showing that cows,  dogs and even venomous spiders kill more humans than alligators do.
It was with relief that I found far more comments castigating those who would blame the gator parents than actual parental castigation. It’s like the high road was the cool place to be, this time.  “…its ridiculous to blame the parents who were sitting a few feet away and did all they could to save him,” read a typical online comment. And, on Twitter, “Pray for his family. Dont judge.”  “The parents in #DisneyGatorAttack don’t need your harsh commentary during this awful event.” “People without children are so quick to blame the parents when in fact this attack could have happened to anyone.”
Compare to: “#GorillaIncident MOM IS TOTALLY AT FAULT SHOOT HER”
So, what accounts for the vast difference in response to these two incredibly rare toddler/animal tragedies that took place at family-friendly places?
Well first of all, of course, the 2-year-old died. There’s no way to say that the Graves haven’t suffered enough.  (And what an eerily sad last name.) Also, even as the story broke, we heard that the father desperately tried to open the alligator’s jaws and couldn’t. That is a horrifying image, and no one with a heart or head would dare accuse that dad of not doing enough.
Then, too, there’s the question of racism — although I think many people were jumping on the Cincinnati mom before they knew she was African-American.  Graves was white.
And there’s even the question of species-ism: Gorillas look like us. Alligators don’t. It’s easier to empathize with a primate.
But even more than all that, I think that so many people were eager to flog the Cincinnati mom because the mob needed someone to blame (that’s what mobs do),  and moms are a favorite target these days.
This is the era when we have come to believe  that mothers can and must be in control of their kids at all times. Any mom who takes her eyes off her kids — and we hear about it — is automatically a public enemy. (Think of all those moms berated for letting their kids wait in the car a few minutes, or play at the park unsupervised.) And if anything bad happens to an unsupervised kid, it’s the mom’s fault. So Michelle Gregg got the public’s wrath, while the zookeepers, zoo designers, zoo guards, and fate, God’s will, etc., etc., did not.
But this time, with the alligator incident, the mob seems to be aiming not at the mom, but Disney. “I say the Grand Floridian is responsible for not having signs posted about the gators!! What parent would ever think that Disney would allow kids or anyone to be in an unsafe area,” read one typical comment. Many others echoed the sentiment that Disney should have put “GATOR!” signs in the area, rather than just, as reported, “No swimming.”
The similarity here is that if there’s any entity we love to blame more than moms, it’s corporate America. So if we truly believe a mom should be been thinking, “Well, I know this has never happened once in 38 years of the gorilla exhibit, but what if today my kid tries to get in — and does? I better be preparing for that!” then we are also quite capable of thinking, “Well, just because we are one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and not once has a guest ever been killed by an alligator, nonetheless we should be constantly warning vacationers about that gruesome possibility.”
In both cases, the crowd has found someone it can second-guess after a once-in-a-generation (or two) tragedy. That way it doesn’t have to contemplate the unpredictability of life, or the fact that there is no such thing as perfect safety, or perfect parents.  It can simply sit back and blame.
America’s favorite coping device. – L
The tragedy unfolds.

The alligator tragedy unfolds.


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95 Responses to Of Alligators, Gorillas, Tragedy and Blame

  1. Donald June 16, 2016 at 3:45 am #

    ‘America’s favorite coping device. – L’

    I love that line! However technically I disagree with you. Frantically looking for someone to blame is a good indication that they’re not coping. Finger pointing is a classic defense mechanism.

  2. StevenJ June 16, 2016 at 6:08 am #

    The difference? One is executing a prisoner, one is executing a free being in retaliation for an act committed on another free being.

    Killing them both is wrong + stupid just for different reasons which may or may not inflame people’s passions more.

    Not going to actually be any safer with said gator dead but human beings will feel better so it is success.

  3. Cherie June 16, 2016 at 7:08 am #

    what is up with always saying race is involved
    I do believe you are prejudice

  4. Jennifer C. June 16, 2016 at 8:09 am #

    While I feel absolutely horrible for these parents, why isn’t anyone talking about the fact that the boy was in the water, even though the sign clearly said “no swimming”? Did they really need to explain that there were alligators in the water? Why do we always need an explanation? Sometimes the good old fashioned “because I said so” needs to be enough.

  5. Beth June 16, 2016 at 8:39 am #

    I’m glad you wrote about this, because it’s been really bothering me. Not that I think there should be any blame at all, but the vitriol with the gorilla incident was out of control and with this one….nothing but prayers and sympathy and horror. Maybe The Internet learned a lesson? Maybe because it was the dad that was nearby, and dads get a pass? I don’t know, but the difference between the reactions, as you highlighted above, is striking.

  6. JKP June 16, 2016 at 9:04 am #

    I don’t know what sites you’ve been reading, but all the articles I saw about this incident were flooded with commentators blaming the parents.

    A lot of people are focused on the posted “no swimming signs” and saying the parents were neglectful for “ignoring” the signs. But the child wasn’t swimming. The child was playing at the edge of the water on a tourist destination beach. And the family was on said beach because Disney had sponsored a movie on the beach. They didn’t wander into a restricted area that was marked off limits because of the high risk of alligator attack.

  7. buffy June 16, 2016 at 9:23 am #

    @JKP, this is where accurate reporting from people actually on the scene would be so helpful. I have read that the child was anywhere from 1 to 10 feet from the shore, and that there are numerous “No Swimming” signs posted around the periphery of that body of water, not just one.

  8. Dirge June 16, 2016 at 9:26 am #

    The anger people have about the killing of an animal is in direct proportion to the cuteness of the animal.

  9. Brenna June 16, 2016 at 9:30 am #

    Cherie – please, Lenore is hardly the first person to say this, and won’t be the last, and there is an awful lot of truth in Lenore’s statement.

    And, sadly, I have seen all sorts of people blaming the parents here. I’ve seen them call idiots, morons, stupid, hillbillies, rednecks, ignorant, etc. Not as many as the gorilla case, but they are definitely out there, judging.

  10. Ari June 16, 2016 at 9:34 am #

    This poor family were vacationing in Florida.

    As someone who isn’t a Florida native, a “No swimming” sign to me would have meant there were dangerous currents, or underwater obstacles, or even just varying depths. Alligators wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. (They will now.)

  11. EtobicokeMom June 16, 2016 at 9:36 am #

    Blame is awesome. Because if something bad is Someone’s Fault, then the rest of us can soothe ourselves with the idea that the Bad Thing will not happen to us. if Bad Things just happen, we can’t avoid them, but when we can figure out whose fault it was, then we can say to ourselves “I will not make that same mistake and therefore Bad Things will not happen to me.” It is that very thought process that is at the heart of helicopter parenting – the idea that by being ‘perfect’ parents we can prevent tragedy.

    These two situations tell us Who we blame. And Lenore is right. Gender and race play a huge role. Moms are always a greater target than Dads. We still live in a society where Dads are lauded as some sort of heros if they can change a diaper, put a baby to bed, cook a meal or take 3 kids to the park without help. Moms, on the other hand, are expected to do all of these things (and so much more) and do it perfectly.

    And yes, race, plays a role. Yes, the Mom in the gorilla case was being castigated before her race was known, but can you even imagine this Nebraska family being investigated for possible criminal charges for causing or contributing to the death of their child? Racism does play a part in who we blame when Someone has to be blamed.

    Which is why, faced with a Caucasian father, America clearly had to turn to corporate America to find Someone to Blame.

  12. Edward Hafner June 16, 2016 at 10:01 am #

    @ Ari
    I lived in Central Florida for several years. Most important thing I learned was if a pool of water is big enough to hold an alligator it will have one in it – every one. AND; they have absolutely no fear of humans.

  13. pentamom June 16, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    “The difference? One is executing a prisoner, one is executing a free being in retaliation for an act committed on another free being.”

    First, nothing was “executed” and there was no “retaliation.” The gorilla was killed to prevented it doing more harm that it had already done, intentionally or not, to a human child. It was defense of the child, not punishment or retaliation.

    Second, “prisoner” is not a category that properly applies to a well-cared for animal in a properly constructed and maintained zoo environment. The animal has no consciousness of the difference between being behind a fence and not being behind a fence. Animals have no motivation to roam, explore, or experience freedom, except as necessary for survival purposes, which they’d prefer not to have to deal with anyway. (I.e., they only reason they move from a safe, comfortable location is because something is chasing them or there is no food at hand.) An animal in a genuinely humane zoo setting is not a “prisoner,” it is living a life that every other animal on the planet would envy, if they had to capacity to do so, which they don’t.

  14. Havva June 16, 2016 at 10:16 am #

    @Cherie, While I certainly have a problem with bringing race in were it is irrelevant. When large swaths of the population are doing just that, an acknowledgment of that fact is highly appropriate, and not indicative of prejudice. Lenore has long reported on parenting issues without bringing up race, only to be told that she is blind to the real reason parents are being put through the ringer.

    In fact reporting in a color blind manner became such an issue Lenore wrote a article on that critique defending keeping race out of it, responded that ” “That the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” So said President Kennedy. And the rights of all families are diminished when the cops or CPS rule that any unsupervised child is a neglected child. … We are all in this together.” — https://www.freerangekids.com/free-range-kids-and-race/

    In the Gorilla case, a rather large part of the public discourse was suggesting the fervent public reaction was racially motivated. So Lenore briefly addressed that issue, and gave her reasons for thinking race was not a motivating factor in the gorilla case, and thus not a part of the disparate impact between these cases. Addressing that line of reasoning, and explaining why she disagrees, does not mean the author is obsessed with race, and it certainly doesn’t make her prejudiced. It means that she is tuned in to the things that have been said about the two cases, how the flow of information occurred, and is addressing those concerns before they obscure the very real fact that parents are being held to unrealistic, and unreasonable standards in our society. And that all of us are at risk of running afoul of the mob’s demand for parenting perfection, regardless of our race, ethnicity, or attentiveness.

  15. Jen June 16, 2016 at 10:42 am #

    from what I read, the boy was dragged into the water by the gator.

  16. Jessica June 16, 2016 at 10:57 am #

    Undercurrents were my first thought too, and an “alligators in the water” sign would go a lot further than “no swimming” to keep me out of the water. No swimming makes me think wading would be fine. I think this is a good example of knowing the reasons behind rules and ordinances. If the law (and the signs) say no swimming, dangerous riptides, I can make a judgment call and decide that playing at the water’s edge will be okay, since two inches of water are unlikely to pull me under. If alligators or crocodiles are the reason for no swimming, I’m going to keep a good ten feet between me and the water’s edge (probably more, since crocodilians are crazy fast, even on land).

    In the same vein, this understanding of the rules helps us question them as well. No kids under 12 can be left alone in the car, ever, and when it turns out it’s because babies have died when they’ve been forgotten, we can rightly question the validity of the law as it applies to kids that can open the door on their own. Tell me why and I’ll be more likely to listen.

  17. Beth2 June 16, 2016 at 11:00 am #

    Obviously we should be blaming the alligator’s parents. WHERE WAS THE ALLIGATOR’S MOTHER???? Talk about negligence.

  18. EricS June 16, 2016 at 11:04 am #

    It’s gator country. There’s even alligators roaming around golf courses. Though I blame no one for this tragedy, I still believe that Disney should have had Alligator warning signs on top of “No Swimming”. I don’t live in Florida, but gators, Florida, and bodies of water are all synonymous to me. When humans take over natural habitats of indigenous wildlife, it’s pretty certain that these wildlife will be around humans.

  19. Melanie June 16, 2016 at 11:09 am #

    Maybe it’s just me, but the thing I caught on the gorilla one was an air of “why did she have so many out of control kids at the zoo”. I wasnt there, but it seemed like her actual parenting being criticized, with snippets about a bystander hearing her tell the child multiple times to do something but he wasn’t listening. And insinuation the parent was too overwhelmed attending to other children and therefore not giving proper attention to the wayward child. Plus there was a rather large crowd of critics on the scene, ready to offer their play by play. that may have shaped the media commentary.

    Having just supervised a group of six 8 year olds at the zoo, I am not criticizing! I sympathize with the actual impossibility of making six children obey signs at all times when news flash even 8 year olds aren’t reading every sign in a zoo! I was running around like a crazy auctioneer “don’t touch that glass! Don’t climb that tree! Stay on the path at all times! Walking not running feet! Do not put your limbs near the enclosure!”

    But the alligator one, it wasn’t as if the child ran into the water out of sight of parents and then the natural sign posted consequence occurred. Presumably, the parents were fully approving of the child’s behavior and a no swimming sign doesn’t necessarily mean “don’t touch this water. Ever. Something might eat you.” There was apparently not a judgemental crowd already gathered assessing what the parents were doing wrong.

    I do think if it was only one parent with two children for the alligator incident, then there would have been criticism, either when that parent left the sibling on shore to attempt rescue, or because no rescue was attempted when the parent stayed with the sibling on shore. And that kind of criticism is unfair.

    I’m not saying either parent was more or less culpable, just the situations did seem different.

  20. Theresa June 16, 2016 at 11:10 am #

    Disney employs gator huters to keep gator out ..they have pools if you want to be in the water and Florida is famous for Gators. They had signs to keep folks out of the water. So they didn’t say watch out for Gators. You can’t stay out the water without that!

  21. buffy June 16, 2016 at 11:16 am #

    “I was running around like a crazy auctioneer “don’t touch that glass! Don’t climb that tree! Stay on the path at all times! Walking not running feet! Do not put your limbs near the enclosure!”

    And I bet when you did that, you took your eyes off all the other kids to address the one(s) you were talking to, right? What if one of the ones you weren’t watching at the time was “wayward”? I don’t know why your expectation of gorilla mom is different than your own expectations of yourself.

  22. E June 16, 2016 at 11:18 am #

    I’ve vacationed in Florida dozens of times (several trips to Disney + other beach areas) and I would have thought the “no swimming” was not in reference to Alligators specifically.

    We camped at a State Park with a lagoon and the signs CLEARLY said no swimming due to alligators.

    I guess we’re all different (DNA + life experience) but I do see some concern/fault in Disney’s lack of signage. We can’t say for sure if these parents would have avoided the water completely if it had mentioned alligators, but it seems like if this risk is a known risk, you should post a warning.

    We even visited River Country (a long time ago), and while I believe there was a bulkhead of some type separating the “swimming hole” from the rest of 7 Seas Lagoon, the water was dark like a lake. Maybe the gators avoided it because it was treated with chlorine?

  23. Beth2 June 16, 2016 at 11:31 am #

    All kidding aside, I think the key difference, as Lenore mentioned, is who died.

    Throughout the gorilla dust-up, I kept imagining what the public reaction would have been if things had played out differently: What if the mom and child had behaved *exactly the same*, but what if, horribly, the gorilla had accidentally killed or severely injured the boy before the zoo could intervene?

    Would people have called the dead child a “brat,” and his mom a “bitch” and “negligent,” and called for her to be investigated, prosecuted, or sued? Absolutely not. People’s guts would have told them that’s a terrible thing to do. But the Internuts would have still needed to “blame” someone, and, in that case, would have directed their rage at the zoo. They would have leapt to the assumption, upon zero information, that the barricade was “obviously” negligently constructed and inadequate(How could the zoo NOT be negligent, if a zoo patron died! Ipso facto!) They would have declared that they “hoped” the mom sues the zoo, and that various zoo officials should be fired. Some might have called for the gorilla to be put down as some sort of punishment for killing the child. In short, I envision a completely opposite response, even if every single human actor had behaved exactly the same.

    The human brain wants to assign blame in every tragedy, because we can’t accept that the world or its creator allows innocent suffering. So the “problem of evil” is solved by appeal to free will: some human intervenor caused the tragedy through their irresponsible or malevolent choices. So in every tragedy, our brain immediately casts about for someone to blame because it’s more comfortable than accepting that tragedy is unavoidable.

    And we never want to blame the deceased, so who we “blame” and who we label the “victim” always gets influenced not just by what everyone did — i.e., their actual responsibility — but also by how it ultimately *turned out* — even when the ultimate outcome is outside of everyone’s control. And since it feels very wrong to blame the victim, it feels pretty yucky to blame the victim-adjacent as well, whether that’s the zoo that just lost a ‘beloved” gorilla, or grieving parents who just lost a child. Blaming a crowd of bystanders is always unsatisfactory, because there’s not enough agency and free will to assign to any particular person. Blaming a very small child seems obviously stupid. So the brain keeps looking…hmm, not the gorilla-victim, not the zoo-victim-mourner, not the collective-action-crowd, not the still-immature-child….somebody, somebody…what about….mom? Aha! MOM is to blame! Where was the MOTHER?

  24. elizabeth June 16, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

    Let me note the the EPA’s ridiculous restrictions on Disney for that particular area resulted in the gator problem in the first place.

  25. Melanie Jones June 16, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    Buffy, I’m saying exactly that. As a parent of three children, all day every day my reality is i can’t control them 24/7. Those kids at the zoo with me absolutely could have had any number of tragedies occur and I would have been as vilified as gorilla mom due to my outnumberedness. Yet I wasn’t negligent, or unaware. Just outnumbered. In a new environment. I believe one Florida parent with two kids would get the same reaction. There would be no right response. No matter what they choose, they are wrong.

    I think Lenore in the past has referenced less than optimal parenting not being negligent, and I guess to me that comes into play when adults are outnumbered with younger kids. When my kids were younger, I felt a lot of judgement and got lots of feedback. When I took my 3 year old to pee pee at Sam’s and had my 6 year old stand by the cart just outside with the baby, a woman was so kind as to tell me that was how kids get kidnapped. Offer to wait with one while I helped the other? I guess that would be too much.. Would people be happier if I let the toddler use the restroom unattended? No, because predators, or me failing to ensure flushing and hand washing, most likely meaning I’m lazy or stupid and therefore should stop breeding. There was a sign for no carts in the restroom. There was no good solution. Taking more than one child under five anywhere means you’re going to get lots of unsolicited advice and judgement.

  26. SanityAnyone? June 16, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

    Mmmm hmmmm…

  27. JJ June 16, 2016 at 12:27 pm #

    All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

  28. That '70s Mom June 16, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

    Sometimes awful things happen. I thank god nothing like this has ever happened to me, but only because I’m lucky; not because I’m a better parent, or have gone to safer places. Blame shouldn’t even be on our radar right now. Right now we should be supporting those fellow parents, then, when emotions have cooled, we look to see if there are reasonable solutions to try to prevent future tragedies. But to blame mom, dad, or Disney at this point is reactive, not responsive. Then again, that’s the era we live in, thank you internet…

  29. Juluho June 16, 2016 at 12:31 pm #

    The media may be showing more sympathy but the comments are awful awful awful. Truly awful.

  30. Donna June 16, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

    I had no idea of the race of EITHER family prior to reading this article. I am actually surprised that the gorilla family is black. I thought they were white.

    While I don’t think anyone should have been calling the gorilla mother a bitch or giving her death threats, other than both stories involve animals and little boys, I fail to see any similarities.

    The gorilla was an endangered species being housed in a zoo – a place where he was supposed to be protected from human predators. He had to be killed by the people who were responsible for caring for him due solely to the actions of another who was not remotely where he was supposed to be or doing what one is supposed to do at a zoo. The gorilla was not seeking out little boys to throw around. The little boy sought out him.

    Alligators are not endangered, but are instead plentiful pests in the area. It attacked the child unprovoked. The little boy did not see an alligator by the water and decide to go pet it. The alligator came out of nowhere at him. Since this is a man-made lake, it isn’t even a case of man taking over his lake and then getting mad that he is there. He stole their lake. The alligator has now shown signs of being aggressive towards humans so poses a legitimate danger to people unsecured in an amusement park and needs to be removed.

    Unlike gorilla boy, alligator boy was where he was supposed to be. He was on a beach open to tourists. Yes, there were “no swimming” signs, but he wasn’t swimming. He was splashing in a few inches of water by the lake shore of a lake that was fully accessible. I would have though nothing of walking along the beach line getting my feet wet where he was. And this story easily could have ended the same even if the boy had been standing just outside the water and splashing with a stick.

    56,000 people go to Disney each DAY, the vast majority of them are not from Florida and a substantial number of them aren’t even from the US. These people were from Nebraska. “Alligator” is probably not going to jump to someone’s mind when they see a “no swimming” sign at a man-made lake in an amusement park. It wouldn’t for me. I would think that they just don’t want people swimming due to the boats, not alligators.

  31. Curious June 16, 2016 at 12:33 pm #

    Can you define the word “accident”?

  32. SanityAnyone? June 16, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

    “Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
    Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
    Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”

    Here’s the problem with signs (and labels, policies). There are too damn many of them. Too many are blatant attempts to avoid law suits and not posted to actually protect. Take for example the equipment at a local playground that says “For use by age 10 and up. In Canada for use by age 7 and up.” So many signs are posted only to serve a legal purpose that signage in general becomes manipulative and not a public service. We know this. Some people will knock themselves out trying to obey all signs and be totally compliant without even knowing the authority. The rest of us learn to selectively rebel, sometimes but rarely to our detriment when there is a real danger at play. I tend to give high credence to water warnings, but am skeptical of many signs.

    Limiting signage to real threats would help give them legitimacy.

  33. Jana June 16, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

    It is not “blaming”, it is just expressing the truth. If parents refuse to take responsibility for their child, then they probably should not have them.

  34. John June 16, 2016 at 1:25 pm #


    “why isn’t anyone talking about the fact that the boy was in the water, even though the sign clearly said “no swimming”?”

    @Jennifer C:

    MY interpretation would be that wading in the water and actually going out in deeper water and swimming are two entirely different things. My hunch is that this child was not the only child or adult for that matter splashing around in the water. If Disney did not want people in the water at all they should have posted signs saying “Please do not go in the water”. And if alligators were the reason for the “No Swimming” signs then YES, Disney should have been more explicit with their warnings. We’re talking about human life here and therefore, warnings do need to be more “idiot proof”, pardon the expression!

    I personally believe that Disney may have some culpability in this matter although I wouldn’t crucify them for it. After all, it was an extremely rare tragedy. My guess would be that Disney will settle with the family out of court in the neighborhood of millions and then barriers will be constructed in the water around the beaches which would keep all potential alligators away from humans splashing around the shoreline.

  35. SKL June 16, 2016 at 1:25 pm #

    I think there were a lot of emotions (including some twisted ones) that formed the difference in the reaction. I would like to hope that some part of it was that we are finally getting fed up with the knee jerk reaction of “blame the parents.”

    I am not a gator expert. Seems like putting up a sign about gators would have been prudent if they knew or should have known gators might be in there. I have nothing against Disney or corporate America, but it seems like a reasonable thing to do.

  36. SKL June 16, 2016 at 1:31 pm #

    By all accounts, the child was not “swimming.” He was either dipping his toes or not even wet. Somewhere I read that his dad was holding his hand the whole time. That does not sound like a violation of a “no swimming” sign to me.

    The news reporters get almost every story wrong the first several times. People should have learned by now to just be quiet and listen until the facts stop changing.

    As another Midwestern person, I would never have thought a gator would come and grab my kid at Disney World, unless there was an explicit warning.

    And even if that means I’m stupid, it still doesn’t mean I’m neglectful or any less of a parent than any helicoptering bubble-wrapping sanctimonious parent.

    And a lot of the comments weren’t even by parents. Idiots.

  37. John June 16, 2016 at 1:33 pm #


    “It is not “blaming”, it is just expressing the truth. If parents refuse to take responsibility for their child, then they probably should not have them.”


    Jana, families visiting the Disney resort should have a reasonable expectation of safety. Being ambushed by an alligator would be the LAST thing anybody would expect to happen! Obviously you are not on this site very often and do not read what Lenore writes on the misguided notion of blaming parents anytime and every time tragedy strikes their children. I cannot say it more eloquently than she does so I won’t even try.

  38. John June 16, 2016 at 1:40 pm #

    In neither case did the parents do anything slightly to blame, but there is blame to be had in both cases. In the case of the zoo, even a 5-year-old could have designed a barrier to keep children out the gorilla enclosure. In the case of Disney, even Disney employees are baffled as to why there was no fence to keep people safe from the gators, who were known to live in the lagoon, or at least signs warning of gators. In both cases, these were “accidents” waiting to happen.

  39. brian June 16, 2016 at 1:57 pm #

    I have been on one of those man-made beaches for a different hotel at Disney many times with my kids. The setup is that they have pools and then the sand area a little bit away which runs down to the water. The no swimming signs appear to be to keep you from…swimming. You can get buckets of water for sandcastles or whatever. The water is really gross but I would 1000% never think there was anything living in it much less a predatory animal.

    They have beach movies like this one. People sit feet from the water at night to watch movies. There are paddle boats available, they have water shuttles to the parks, all kinds of things out on that water. I have never seen any sign of life much less a large alligator.

    There is absolutely no blame to be passed on to these parents. Disney may or may not have fault depending on how often there actually are alligators in that water. If it is often, then yes, they need to explicitly warn people there is a primeval killing machine living in that water. It is just common sense.

  40. buffy June 16, 2016 at 2:05 pm #

    @Melanie Jones, I misunderstood you, sorry. I thought you were saying that gorilla mom couldn’t handle more than one kid, but that you could. Again, sorry.

  41. BL June 16, 2016 at 2:05 pm #

    “Disney may or may not have fault depending on how often there actually are alligators in that water. If it is often, then yes, they need to explicitly warn people there is a primeval killing machine living in that water. ”

    I suspect that an explicit warning about alligators would reduce their attendance copiously.

  42. Dee June 16, 2016 at 2:14 pm #

    This is what I posted on someone’s Facebook post about the alligator at Disney:

    “We are a terribly judgy society. The reality is that every situation is different and none of us knows how we would act, what we would do. There are a million things that can happen. We’ve lost the idea that life is risky. It just is. We have this warped idea that we, by sheer force of will, can avoid risk.”

    She was appalled at how people were blaming the parents. Like the zoo and the gorilla, I think it’s just a thing that happened. Random, unusual, sad, but rare.

  43. elizabeth June 16, 2016 at 2:29 pm #

    Lenore, they want to “protect the wildlife”. So legally Disney cannot kill any gators or wall off the pond to prevent gators.

  44. James Pollock June 16, 2016 at 2:33 pm #

    I think there’s an obvious difference.

    Gorilla Boy:
    Parents screwed up => child put in danger => Gorilla shot, boy safe => other people feel the loss most keenly

    Alligator Boy:
    Parents screwed up => child put in danger => boy killed => parents feel the loss most keenly

    In the first case, the parents got their child back “safely” and it was people who cared for the gorilla who were hurting the most… the parents got off with “only” a hospital stay and related expenses.

    In the second case, the parents did not get their child back, and so they are the ones who suffered for their mistake. No point in piling on.

    Both cases are tragedies, both should serve to prevent, or at least limit, repeat occurrences.

  45. James Pollock June 16, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

    “There is absolutely no blame to be passed on to these parents. Disney may or may not have fault depending on how often there actually are alligators in that water. If it is often, then yes, they need to explicitly warn people there is a primeval killing machine living in that water. It is just common sense.”

    You, as the parent of your children, have the responsibility to identify and neutralize every threat to your children, under penalty of having your children taken from you. (Hint: not talking about CPS)

  46. Charla June 16, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

    You also forgot a major factor, which plays into my own opinion on the matter. The zoo (that particular one of which I have frequented numerous times) is designed for safety of both animal and people. Signs, railings, and adequate distance. Although children move quickly, there would have been (or should have been) more reaction time from that mother. An alligator in the wild? It was in the wild. There are no fences or signs in that situation. There was far less reaction time and a much more animated reaction from the parent (than the “it’s okay, honey” calm reaction of the mother in the gorilla case). I don’t believe race played into this at all, because photos of both families were lagging behind the online reaction.

  47. Stacey Gordon June 16, 2016 at 3:20 pm #

    All of Orlando/Central Florida was created by draining a swamp IT IS IN THE EVERGLADES! Every body of water potentially has alligators. They are everywhere, including golf courses, canals,roadside ponds and yes, even “sanitized” Disney areas. You are in their world. The fact that they killed 4 or 5 of them looking for the 1 that may have eaten the kid is evidence that it was not a fluke that there was an alligator in the area.
    People from Nebraska may be excused for not realizing that they were walking in alligator territory, but we should not be surprised that they were there.

    It was a tragic accident. No one is to blame, other than the alligator.

  48. Steve June 16, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

    This is the USA, why did the father not have a handgun to shoot the ‘gator?

    He apparently tried to pry its jaws open. If he had a gun he could have shot it in the head.

  49. Beth June 16, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

    What I think this shows the “never ever take your eyes off your child even for a second” crowd is that a parent can be RIGHT THERE, and bad things might still happen.

  50. Jill June 16, 2016 at 3:50 pm #

    Another difference between what happened at the Cincinatti Zoo and what happened at Disney World is the age of the children involved. The little boy at the zoo was three, old enough to be seen as disobedient and out of control. The boy killed by the gator was two, young enough to be seen as a baby.
    Plus, the gorilla had a name: Harambe. It’s easier to identify with an animal that has a name and looks sort of human than it is to sympathize with a nameless reptile.
    There was plenty of criticism of the dead child’s parents early on, less so now that the public’s indignation seems to have turned toward Disney. One of the more offensive commenters boasted that he and his wife had travelled all over the US with their two beautiful daughters (notice how the daughters are always described as beautiful, never as average-looking, or downright ugly?) and THEY never got killed by any kind of animal. The point seemed to be that the commenter and his wife were better parents than the Graves. Sickening.

  51. Jill June 16, 2016 at 4:00 pm #

    By ‘sympathize’ I meant to understand that the alligator was only doing what alligators do: finding something smaller than itself and drowning it, with the intention of coming back later and eating it,

  52. Warren June 16, 2016 at 4:54 pm #

    I don’t see how even the gator is at fault or to blame. It was hunting prey. You enter their territory and you are fair game. You cannot fault a creature for feeding.

    Though I do find fault with those that feel the need to hunt down and kill because of attacks. But people feel the need control the future and so completely buy into the crap that once an animal attacks a human they develop a taste for humans.

  53. AntiMouse June 16, 2016 at 5:04 pm #

    This is out of step with Disney; usually its one or both parents who would have been killed (virtually every Disney story has the parents dead).

  54. SteveS June 16, 2016 at 5:05 pm #

    This is the USA, why did the father not have a handgun to shoot the ‘gator?

    Disney has a strict “no weapons” policy and will ban you from their property if you violate it.

    I know a few permit holders from Florida. Apparently, many of them consider alligators when deciding what to carry.

  55. Donald June 16, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

    “Did they really need to explain that there were alligators in the water? Why do we always need an explanation?”

    This is the drawback of having warnings on everything. Not only do we start depending on them, we start ignoring them as well because we know that most of them are CYA crap.

  56. James Pollock June 16, 2016 at 5:26 pm #

    Is there a “do not feed the alligators” sign up now?

    Too soon?

  57. Betsy in Michigan June 16, 2016 at 6:23 pm #

    “No Swimming” is one of those vapid, slightly control freakish signs like “Keep off the Grass”. There are decorative public fountains that say “Keep Out of Water” (luckily our local village green is AWESOME in allowing it, and kids love wading!) just because someone is stuffy (when city workers need to shock it with chlorine, they tell you ahead of time so you can remove your children). It is NOT unreasonable for a corporate entity as large and experienced as Disney to utilize more informational text (but still short and to the point) such as “No Swimming – No Lifeguard”, or “No Swimming – Alligators Present”, or whatever. Yes, people DO need some reasonable information. This is DISNEY – a place sanitized beyond belief (do you know what they try to do to history?!). Their resort hardly qualifies as “the wild” – alligators are as numerous as squirrels in other areas, just as annoying, and more dangerous. Give out of towners the information the need to stay safe in an unfamiliar environment.

  58. Liz June 16, 2016 at 6:59 pm #

    When I was about 7 or 8 my parents and I went down to stay with my grandmother at her house in Florida. We went down to the canal with a bag of bread because I wanted to feed the tiny fish that were in the shallow water. Out of nowhere my dad grabbed me and pulled me back as an alligator rushed up right at me. It slowly made its way back into the water, and we watched it hover and wait to see if one of us was dumb enough to go back in the water. I still remember it’s eyes.
    Florida has alligators, and even when they were still on the endangered list they still behaved just like they have for millions of years. They are one of the oldest apex predators still alive.
    I feel horrible for these parents who see horrible things happen to their children and can do nothing to stop it. I couldn’t get mad at the mother whose child went into the gorilla enclosure because I put myself into her shoes and imagined what it must have felt like to be standing there, watching a wild animal take her child and being powerless to stop it. I was happy for her that her son survived,and told off every single person I knew who said something bad (I even heard a few “should have let the kid die to teach that mom a lesson”). Right now I can’t even try to imagine what it felt like to be the parent watching their child get eaten by an alligator. It’s too horrifying and heartbreaking.
    Animals behave like animals. No human was responsible for this alligator attack. I hope that family can find love and peace in time with their loss, but I don’t know if they will. I don’t know if I would, if I was in their shoes.
    P.S. A family member told me that she doesn’t want to hear anyone use the phrase “see you later alligator” because it’s “highly inappropriate and insensitive in light of what happened.” Sigh.

  59. zzmel June 16, 2016 at 7:16 pm #

    Who the hell can you blame? I wrote myfeelings about the gorilla as well as so many hundreds of others or even a thousand more. We know accidents can happen and unfortunately it does. These happenings are very rare and being at the wrong place at the wrong time, how do we know? This is such a hard one to even analyze. My heart goes out to the child and parents. The child that has been killed and the parents who have to suffer for this. I would be certain that Walt Disney had enough warnings as it is their responsibility to do so. Weather they were enough of them, I certainly don’t know. Yes, it will leave a mark on Walt Disney because it happened. I feel that unfortunately, Florida is known for alligators. The same would be for Lousiana and even many tropical paradises. I guess that is what balances our animal kingdom. Yes, I see where alligators are sly, cunning and ready to srike. They are a species similar to the white killer shark. You never want to be in their midsts. Unfortunately, I can’t say anymore and I hope their will be healing in this catastropic event.

  60. Alanna June 16, 2016 at 7:45 pm #

    I don’t understand why people don’t understand that “no swimming” in Florida means “yes alligators.”

  61. James Pollock June 16, 2016 at 8:32 pm #

    “I don’t understand why people don’t understand that “no swimming” in Florida means “yes alligators.””

    I can understand that, since I live in a place that doesn’t have them, it doesn’t occur to me… unprompted… to think. “Oh, there’s some water… I wonder if an 8-foot long death lizard is in there because we don’t have death lizards. When I went to Arizona, I had to be reminded to check shoes for scorpions, because we don’t have four-inch death bugs, either.

    Now… once somebody points out a bit of not-at-all-dangerous-looking water and says “see that? Might be a dangerous animal there”, then if I forget, that’s on me. But up to that point, it’s just water.

    A sign that says “no swimming” means “we don’t want you to swim here”, not “we don’t want your arm or leg ripped off by our wildlife”. You think “alligator” because you’ve been living there. I don’t think “alligator” because I haven’t.

    Our ants don’t sting, either, while we’re at it.

  62. Maria June 16, 2016 at 9:01 pm #

    I don’t understand if the post is really dense or just pretending.

    The difference is two fold as anyone should be able to see
    1- no video. Or footage. So we have to take the parents word
    2- in one case the humans went INTO the gorilla pit knowing it was a wild animal there. In the other a wild animal appeared where NO ONE KNEW it was there. It’s not that hard. It’s not rocket science.

  63. Maria June 16, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

    By the way parents letting their children into wild animal exhibits is not something that happens once in a generation it happens once every other year at least. Google is your friend. The Exhibits were wild dogs, cheetah and more besides.

  64. SKL June 16, 2016 at 11:04 pm #

    One thing being a parent has taught me: never say never. As in, “my kid would never.” Every time I said that, my kid did the exact thing within 5 minutes. So I don’t say it any more. And when I see people saying it, I know they are either stupid, childless, or very new parents.

  65. Travis June 16, 2016 at 11:30 pm #

    @Jennifer C.

    “why isn’t anyone talking about the fact that the boy was in the water, even though the sign clearly said “no swimming”?”

    If you go to the linked article, the topmost video is of Fox News giving the report. Now, I don’t personally like Fox News, but one of the men does say that, sometimes, it just happens. Sometimes, when the parents look away for a second, the kids can walk into traffic, and this is probably what happened here.

    To my knowledge, no one is saying ‘They should have said there were alligators’. As far as I know, no one is blaming Disney, either. Everyone has been saying it was, you know an accident. The difference with the Cincinnati thing mind be that, well, the kid didn’t just go to the edge of the permitted area and was grabbed, the kid actually had the time to go through several obstacles to get into the gorilla’s cage (and in that situation, I personally think that the parents could be to blame, but if we’re going to that route, then the people who watched him get into the cage but did nothing to stop the kid are to blame, too).

    Granted, the kid was also younger here, I think. So it’s expected for him to run off. He’s two. He was at Disney. People don’t expect that, if you go to the edge of a no-swimming zone, or even a bit into the no-swimming zone, which a two-year-old is more than capable of doing, an /alligator/ is going to come out and grab you.

  66. Workshop June 16, 2016 at 11:50 pm #

    There is one more thing that Lenore left off the list: narcissism.

    As we have embraced the digital, we have left behind the human interaction that would allow us to empathize. No longer do we worry about what the other person is going through and how we would react in the same situation. No, we can sit in our comfy chairs far away from the actual event and pass judgement.

    “Obviously, I am a better parent than you because I would never do X.” No matter that at the point we see their faces on the news the parents could give a flying rodent’s behind about that; they just want their child back.

    We are so out of touch with how the world works that we get to decide that others can’t possible be as bright as we are. So in this case, Disney is totally and completely incompetent because the signage wasn’t just so. They forget that, quite literally, the entire world wants to kill us. Don’t believe me? Go run naked in your backyard. You’ll discover that mosquitoes are quite fond of us. The sun will blister our skin if we stay in it too long. Drinking water from a stream may kill us, as will eating random things in the forest. But no, we’re masters of our domain, and so let’s put out a diatribe against Disney.

    It reminds me of nothing so much as a bunch of spoiled children.

  67. Skip June 17, 2016 at 12:48 am #

    I am not a Florida native, but we did visit Florida when I was a child. One of the places we visited was an alligator farm, or at least some place that had alligators on display. Decently educated American adults should not be surprised that Florida is full of alligators. Adults with any amount of common sense should not expect that humans could keep alligators out of a body of water, however fake, that is connected to other bodies of water that traverse through places where alligators live.

    Disclaimer: I live in a swampy part of Texas where alligators abound, even in the waterways in the middle of my very big city, and especially in the suburbs that have been planted on the alligators’ habitat. So I am more familiar with, and alert for, alligators than a family from Nebraska would be.

    PSA of information that people who don’t live where there are alligators might not know: Alligators mate in April and May (-ish), and the females nest in June and July (-ish). They are very territorial and aggressive during these times. Alligators also feed at night.

  68. James Pollock June 17, 2016 at 1:29 am #

    “Disclaimer: I live in a swampy part of Texas where alligators abound, even in the waterways in the middle of my very big city, and especially in the suburbs that have been planted on the alligators’ habitat. So I am more familiar with, and alert for, alligators than a family from Nebraska would be.”

    There’s knowing that alligators live in Florida, and being aware of alligator habitat when you’re in it. If you live somewhere that doesn’t have alligators, your brain will not think “huh. alligator habitat” until you either A) see an alligator, or B) someone mentions alligators (directly or via signage).

    Your brain takes in the visual field and relates what you see to what you have experience with. If you have years and years of not being where alligators live, your brain will not subconsciously say “alligator” when you see the water that may or may not contain an alligator, your brain will say “water” because that’s what you’ve seen every day for however many days you’ve been living in a place with no alligators.

    You know, rationally, that alligators are in Florida, but you don’t REACT AUTOMATICALLY, you have to stop and think about alligators to say “hey, this body of water might have a killer death-lizard in it, unlike all of the bodies of water back home!”

    Now… we don’t have alligators in our bodies of water. We mostly don’t have leeches, either, and we don’t have fire ants, and we don’t don’t have scorpions. We do get bear, and mountain lion, and in the desert half of the state, there are rattlesnakes (which conveniently enough, tend to remind you that they are there all by themselves.) We have black widow and brown recluse spiders, both potentially life-threatening but rarely encountered. And, just for fun, sometimes our volcanoes erupt (less frequently than Hawaii’s, but much, much harder on the landscape.)

    If you are outside your normal environment, you need to be reminded of specific hazards because your brain will let you forget about them AND you may not notice the signs that a danger is present, because those signs don’t exist or mean something else in your usual surroundings. (My mom lived on a houseboat on the Willamette River, kids swim in the river because, again, no alligators. So if I see a kid in the water, it’s not a sign of danger TO ME, but it might well be to a Floridian, because they know what is, or might be, in the water.)

  69. Beth June 17, 2016 at 8:46 am #

    “the humans went INTO the gorilla pit knowing it was a wild animal there”

    Seriously? You’re putting an awful lot of adult thinking onto a 3-year-old. And it was human, singular.

  70. Ceridwen June 17, 2016 at 9:41 am #

    Why the difference? Many reasons, I think. First, the media was very sympathetic to the gorilla and his keepers, telling how upset the zoo employees were to have to kill the animal. Very few articles mentioned that the gorilla failed to respond to calls he should have responded to, to leave the area, while other gorillas did so. The news made sure we knew that the gorilla was an endangered species, and the gorilla who was shot had been meant to breed more, to increase the number of these gorillas. His goal wasn’t met, the species is still endangered, while it would have been less so if the gorilla had lived.

    Gorillas are more human-like than alligators. I don’t think they’re attractive, but many people do. Several comments said something like, “…the murder of this beautiful and majestic animal.” “Beautiful” and “majestic” aren’t adjectives most people would apply to alligators.

    The gorilla was in a controlled environment, with signs and fences, a stretch of land planted with bushes, and a ten-foot drop to a moat to separate him from the zoo’s visitors. I think that, once the fence was surmounted, a fast child could get through the bushes, eluding pursuers. A ten-foot drop – well, once you’re on the edge, falling in is a very real possibility.

    In zoos, people are constantly reminded that there are wild animals close by. At Disney, people expect a safe, fun experience. Even with posted signs, people don’t automatically think of wild animals. People reading about the attack won’t automatically assume that there are dangerous animals in the lagoon, so have more sympathy for the people in that situation. “No Swimming” doesn’t automatically conjure up images of alligators, or brain-eating amoebas, either, which also live in that lake.

    The gorilla child lived, the alligator child died. Few parents could not sympathize with the parents who lost their child; few people would think that more punishment for what is clearly an accident would be beneficial.

    The gorilla family had more than one child. Used to be that four, five, six, etc., children were normal. You don’t see this as much these days, and when you do hear about it, the press is negative toward the families. I had four children and have often been asked, “why so many?” Many? My grandmother had eight, another relation had many (many!) more. People believe that having “many” children means that Mom can’t helicopter each and every one, and that is today’s expectation.

    Alligator Dad was there, tried desperately to rescue the child to the point of putting himself in danger. No one could say that someone didn’t “at least try.” Also, Dad. Many of the critics I read of Gorilla Mom asked where Dad was. (Do dads always go on outings with Mom and the kids? Or is that only expected after a tragedy?)

    Race. I knew the gorilla family was black, but had no idea of the alligator family’s race. Some people knew. For some, this could have made a difference. For others, it didn’t.

    There were a few differences, but I think the biggest ones are public perception and preconceived expectations.


  71. E June 17, 2016 at 10:20 am #

    Disney attracts visitors from around the world. I hardly think it’s realistic that every visitor would know that alligators were present — especially in the complete fake world that Disney creates.

    I find it interesting that “the news” has said that Disney employs full time staff to find/remove alligators, yet they found 4-5 in that body of water while looking for the boy….in what was something like 24 hours.

    Of course it’s an accident. Of course its rare. Of course Disney will pay out. Of course society will move on to the next unusual story and try to find blame.

    Washington is getting crossed eyed watching the blame from all corners for Orlando’s other (and less rare) tragedy.

  72. Backroads June 17, 2016 at 10:24 am #

    I honestly don’t get blaming. I prefer things being pure accident/acts of God rather than a matter of failt.

  73. E June 17, 2016 at 10:39 am #

    We all use ‘blame’ all the time. I blamed my kid this morning for leaving our car a mess after he used it last night.

    Sometimes people are careless and they DO cause an unwelcome situation. You leave your car unlocked and someone swipes your GPS. Well I blame the person who stole it, but I blame myself for leaving the car unlocked.

    But I can’t think of anything worse than to tell grieving parents that their deceased child was an “act of God”. I know it’s just a turn of phrase but ugggggghhhh.

    While observers may be able to think of it in statistical terms and how many decades have gone by with no accidents, it’s completely reasonable to think the parents would do 100 things differently and not led them to this point if they could.

  74. James Pollock June 17, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    “I honestly don’t get blaming. I prefer things being pure accident/acts of God”

    So… you blame God.

  75. Backroads June 17, 2016 at 10:53 pm #

    “””“I honestly don’t get blaming. I prefer things being pure accident/acts of God”

    So… you blame God.”””

    What an incredibly weird assumption.

  76. Backroads June 17, 2016 at 10:58 pm #

    “”””We all use ‘blame’ all the time. I blamed my kid this morning for leaving our car a mess after he used it last night.

    Sometimes people are careless and they DO cause an unwelcome situation. You leave your car unlocked and someone swipes your GPS. Well I blame the person who stole it, but I blame myself for leaving the car unlocked.

    But I can’t think of anything worse than to tell grieving parents that their deceased child was an “act of God”. I know it’s just a turn of phrase but ugggggghhhh.

    While observers may be able to think of it in statistical terms and how many decades have gone by with no accidents, it’s completely reasonable to think the parents would do 100 things differently and not led them to this point if they could.””””

    If there is fairly obvious blame, then sure, ammends must be made, errors corrected where possible.

    But what I do hate is the desperation to find fault, blame, whatever have you when by all accounts the best was given. Forced with the choice, I’d rather live knowing no one was really at fault and things were simply the way they were, for good or bad, than live knowing I or someone else royally screwed up and dropped the ball and I have to spend the rest of my days sulking in anger and loathing.

    This is why I hate hunting for someone to blame. I’d rather make my peace with the situation, deal with the clear perpetrators, than fixate and obsess on finding tiny little details and tiny little people that may or may not have messed up.

  77. Backroads June 17, 2016 at 11:02 pm #

    “””But I can’t think of anything worse than to tell grieving parents that their deceased child was an “act of God”. I know it’s just a turn of phrase but ugggggghhhh.”””

    To continue my thought on this particular line, I do get what you’re saying and appreciate it, but I’d personally would find it far worse to hear “If only you hadn’t done this, or if you had done this, or if so-n-so had/had not done that, your situation would not be so awful”.

    I apologize for using the term “act of God”. I didn’t think it would get people so riled up.

  78. The Other Mandy June 18, 2016 at 12:04 am #

    As a Florida native, this story, while tragic, is not particularly surprising. When I was in college at UF (Gators!), a student’s dog, on the leash, was grabbed from the water’s edge and eaten by a gator. Not 2 days later, I was walking past the same pond where a couple was allowing their toddler to run around at water’s edge, near the parents but not holding hands. I warned them that the pond was infested.

    The Disney gator attack was an accident. There’s an average of 13 attacks per year, most non-fatal, in the whole state. Disney had never had an attack. The beach area seemed safe, with lots of other kids and families playing nearby. Only someone warned since birth would even *imagine* gator danger, definitely not someone from Nebraska. It’s just sick that anyone would blame the parents.

  79. The Other Mandy June 18, 2016 at 12:10 am #

    By the way, the gator pond at UF didn’t have “Beware of Alligators” signs, that I recall, though it was on campus and I regularly saw a dozen or more gators sunning themselves on its little island. That was 20 years ago, so maybe now it has signs and a fence.

  80. lollipoplover June 18, 2016 at 8:37 am #


    What outpouring of sympathy are you talking about?!
    I must admit, we were away for days and are just now finding out about this sad, horrible attack
    But look at the title of this story and the comments:


    Why is devastated in quotations? And the comments, the negligence and demands that this family have their other child taken away. It’s sickening! I cried when I heard this story. These parents deserve basic human compassion. It seems that our country is going through a drought of human compassion towards grieving parents and more intent on assigning blame.

    The knowledge available at our fingertips combined with the need to get your two cents in, adding the anonymity of the internet for some reason gives people social internet balls to say things they would NEVER say to someone’s face.

    Would you dare call this father at his son’s funeral, when he’s *devastated* beyond belief, a negligent dad and say he should lose his other child and have that child too taken away from their shattered family??
    I am so, so, so, SICK of this! How horrible and random and tragic for this family. They are deserving of an outpouring of human compassion, not this sanctimonious cruelty towards grieving parents and families. Can you imagine what they just witnessed? Shut up about the signs and the gators feed night comments! Have a heart.

  81. CONSCIOUSLY AWAKE June 18, 2016 at 12:27 pm #

    GRAVES…hmmmm..sounds like another ‘False Flag event’..wonder how many hours the “family” was sitting lakeside for that to occur…smthg to look into….Orlando, BOS/OAK bombings, WTC energy weapon/bomb/holographic planes, school shootings, theater shoots= MK ULTRA’d, CIA lineages, Crisis Actors.org all working and being paid under the guise of DECEPTION…ALL IS ABNORMAL Frakennews and part of a sub agenda working 24/7 to pass specific laws…

  82. Kadee June 19, 2016 at 12:43 pm #

    Zoo..No way any enclosure should be able to be breached. Kids get away from ya at times, no matter what, especially places like that. It’s why people assume enclosures are totally secure.
    I’m from the Midwest and the only reason I already knew alligators are inside Disney is because a friend who lives down there told me many years ago when he was a kid a gator lunged at the ride he was on at splash mountain.
    I have never been to Disney and had no idea until this happened they had open beach areas to freshwater. I would have assumed the danger only because of that story and because I went to boot camp there…pond on base. Most people have they’re guard down on vacation, zoos, what have you and most are not from there.
    No swimming signs are open to interpretation depending on where you come from. We have tourists all the time, with no swimming and\or wading along the Mississippi river in campground areas with open sand to the water for fishing. Have I gotten my toes wet…of course. Does everyone know everything this river is capable of like the people who live along it?
    People aren’t afraid of what they can’t see and that includes not noticing a tiny way for a tiny person to get inside an enclosure. When adults have eyeballs in their kneecaps maybe parents can live up to these amazing expectations so many others think is possible.
    For all you “everybody should know gators are EVERYWHERE” in Florida. Then everybody should know the Mississippi river bed can give way in ankle deep water in a blink and the undercurrent is similar to how an alligator drowns prey, fighting out of it is near impossible. They usually find people many days later a few counties away. Grown adult standing next to you one second, you look away for a second and next thing you know…vanished.
    Everybody “should” know this sort of stuff though. In an amusement park it shouldn’t even be a possibility let alone on one’s mind, even in Florida. ONE death by alligator since it opened is too many. The parents bashing these moms and dads, where are your kids while your sitting your butts in front of the computer…

  83. James Pollock June 19, 2016 at 1:39 pm #

    “The parents bashing these moms and dads, where are your kids while your sitting your butts in front of the computer”

    Away at university. (Having been warned of the dangers that reside there.)

  84. Buffy June 19, 2016 at 3:09 pm #

    @Kadee, amazing how you were able to type that wall of text without sitting your butt in front of a computer.

  85. Kadee June 19, 2016 at 5:39 pm #

    I like what I wrote…how do u know I have or haven’t any kids Buffy and where in my wall am I bashing moms and dads. It is to those who do.

  86. Joanna Roland June 20, 2016 at 3:13 pm #

    “NO SWIMMING” is a helluva lot different than “DON”T DIP A TOE IN THE WATER.” The child was NOT submerged and nobody was “swimming!” He was simply standing by the water’s edge…probably in about 3 inches of water if that (reports say “a foot in” but I understand that to be a foot off of the sand, not twelve inches deep in water). If doing that was so dangerous, the beach should not have been set up as it was the inviting evening for parents to spend with their children….lounge chairs, the movie … at night when gators are active… nobody guarding the water’s edge even though Disney knew gators were present.

    FUCK all you people who judge the parents….it should be you instead of that little boy that was taken out. You are disgusting heartless human beings. So be prepared for the pits of hell cause that is where you’ll be going.

  87. James Pollock June 20, 2016 at 3:21 pm #

    “FUCK all you people who judge the parents….it should be you instead of that little boy that was taken out. You are disgusting heartless human beings. So be prepared for the pits of hell cause that is where you’ll be going.”

    I’m pretty sure that’s not your call to make.

  88. LRH June 20, 2016 at 6:22 pm #

    To me, what this incident underscores–the need for alligators to be removed from any endangered or protections ordinances and such, and for them to be culled or relocated en masse.

    We’re humans, and in my view we have the RIGHT to go wherever we please and enjoy the outdoors free of unreasonable risks. They tell me that many lakes in Florida aren’t swimmable due to alligator infestations. That’s simply unacceptable. They need to remove and relocate the things to somewhere like a wildlife preservation or an alligator farm so that we humans can ENJOY the outdoors how we darned well please.

    If an incident such as this, however rare, is occurring at DISNEY of all places, that should be enough proof that this needs to happen.

    As for the parents–yes, accidents happen. No one would’ve seen this coming, and the parents being right there didn’t stop it from happening. They’re blameless.

  89. Renae Pardue June 22, 2016 at 2:55 am #

    Say whatever you want to . Some parents just do not watch their children ! I see it at Wal-mart , I see it at the malls. I see it at the 4th of July celebrations. I have seen waitresses have to tell little children to get OUT of the fire place at Cracker Barrel and the parents will get furious if anything is said to their little angels ! I am a widow who managed to raise 3 kids without any of them being eaten by any animal or kidnapped. People , you have to watch your kids all the time !! I was hiking at the summit of Stone Mountain a few years ago and there was a family up there allowing their kids to run all over the place although there are signs up warning of the dangerous cliffs ! People just don’t watch their kids . They are kids . They are NOT going to think things through . It’s YOUR job as a parent to keep them safe . There are no excuses . Now get mad and gang up on me. I don’t care .

  90. Warren June 22, 2016 at 8:55 pm #


    I also raised three kids. Never felt the need to watch them constantly. They all lived active lives. Fishing, swimming in pools and lakes, biking, sports, camping, free run of town and so on. Not one was kidnapped or eaten by wild animals.

    So your point is what?

  91. Warren June 22, 2016 at 9:00 pm #

    Oh yeah when it came to the zoo, I had a buddy that did all our horses shoes that was the keeper in charge of all the zoo’s hoover animals. My kids went behind the scenes many times and were able to see and touch many of the animals. So jealous they got to see and pet the black wolf that I always admired.

  92. Meg June 22, 2016 at 11:30 pm #

    I work in social media for a living, so I saw a lot of the reactions to both stories in real time.

    I think one thing that was different about the alligator incident, is that fairly quickly there were people sharing pictures of their own children playing at the very spot, or close to it, where the little boy was. In other words, it was easier for people to imagine (and see) how it could happen, even to parents who were close by.

    Second, I do think alligators are profoundly less sympathetic than endangered gorillas.

    And, finally, I think the tide had actually started to turn a bit with the gorilla story, and just As some sympathetic pieces were circulating, this tragic event happened. Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic, but I felt like I saw some glimmers of empathy.

  93. Rivkacatholicaspie June 25, 2016 at 2:42 pm #

    I disagree with one thing in this article—I think that people DO love to blame moms more than corporate America.

  94. Beth June 25, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

    “People , you have to watch your kids all the time !!”

    I would in all seriousness like to know how you’ve working out sleeping, showering, going to the bathroom, or even needing to get something from a different part of the house than where your kids are located at the time. If you have multiple kids, do you take them all with you to get the mail?

  95. Anonymous June 26, 2016 at 11:22 pm #

    Here is the difference as I see it: In the gorilla case, the boy announced his intention to climb into the gorilla pit. In the alligator case, No one other than Disney knew alligators were there. In the gorilla case, had the child been older than 3, “you’re not going in there” would have been enough. Because he was a toddler, and toddlers often do not listen to parental commands due to their psychology, the mother should have removed him from the exhibit. No one other than Disney could have predicted the alligator incident.

    I am a huge believer in free-range and the idea that kids do not need constant supervision, but if a kid is to be free-range they need to be taught how to behave in certain situations when alone. This includes zoo etiquette. Lenore prepared her child for his subway ride: children need to be prepared for zoos too, even when the parent isn’t watching (and a parent can’t always watch). This 3 year old obviously wasn’t prepared and there’s a good chance he couldn’t be prepared due to the psychology of toddlers. This makes it a case of mother liability in that, while should couldn’t have had her eyes on him every second, she should have remembered toddlers do not listen to parental commands like children 4+ do and remove him before he climbed in. I’m sure this is not the first time he had disobeyed a parental command. The mother isn’t entirely at fault as the exhibit should have been designed to prevent toddler climb-ins but she needs to take some responsibility.