Why Was An Alligator In Disney World? It's Not As Unusual As It Sounds

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 11: General view of Epcot International Flower And Garden Festival at Epcot Center at Walt Disney World on May 11, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)
Source: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The search is still underway for a two-year-old boy who was snatched out of the water at a Disney World resort in Orlando on Tuesday night by an alligator. That kind of danger seems isolated in a place as idyllic as the world-famous Florida vacation destination, but considering how the resort is set up, it's almost surprising that an incident like this has not occurred before. How did an alligator make it into Disney World? Well, the gator could have lived at the resort for a while. 

Disney World, as with much of Central Florida, was originally a swamp, and alligators are ubiquitous to every Florida swamp. During the initial construction of the resort in the 1960s, the Seven Seas Lagoon was created to harness the soil to fill in the swamp. Disney then filled the massive excavated area with water through a series of canals. Those canals, which still exist today, feed into larger bodies of water, some of which are not owned or maintained by Disney World. An alligator could have easily crossed into the resort via one of those waterways and found its way to the shore of the beach where visitors played. 

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Although there is no real way to prevent the alligators from entering its waters, Disney had taken multiple precautions to prevent incidents like this. The attack Tuesday occurred as the young boy was wading in the Seven Seas Lagoon, where recreational swimming is prohibited and which features "no swimming" signs around the perimeter. The boy was standing in less than a foot of water, according to his family and other witnesses, but that was enough for the alligator to attack.

On Wednesday morning, Disney announced it would be shutting down all the beaches in its Orlando destinations. The search for the child is still ongoing, but according to law enforcement officials, there may not be much hope left. "The sad reality of it is it's been several hours, and we're not likely going to recover a live body," said Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings. Since the search began, authorities have killed four alligators already, but none showed signs of having killed the child. The search is continuing both through the waters and by air, so there should be some answers soon. 

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