A two-year old boy died in a wild animal attack while on vacation at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
The toddler was playing with his sister along the shore of the amusement park’s Seven Seas Lagoon. This lake-like water body provides theme park guests an opportunity to interact with central Florida’s natural landscape. The Lagoon, complete with its naturally occurring wild animal habitat, is located near boy’s hotel room at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
The tranquility vanished when an alligator creeped up out of the water and snatched the child in his jaws.
The animal attack sprung the boy’s father into action. The former wrestling champion tried in vain to pry his son from the alligator’s mouth. But the gator’s powerful jaws and teeth could not be overcome by the desperate father.
The waterway does have a lifeguard on duty, but their training is to prevent drownings, and the guard was not equipped to fend off an animal attack.
The alligator dragged the boy away and horrifyingly drowned him in the lagoon.
According to Walt Disney World Resort, serious wild animal attacks are unheard of at its theme parks.
However, this denial of notice is unlikely to absolve the theme park operators of liability for the child’s death.
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Liability for a Wild Animal Attack
According to witness accounts, alligator sightings regularly occur. Internet searches reveal dozens of wild animal photographs and videos posted by Disney World vacationers over the past several years. This indicates Disney was on notice of this dangerous condition.
Nevertheless, Disney has allowed unfettered access to the lake’s shoreline and surrounding marsh land. Theme park guests have enjoyed visiting and feeding various wild animals in the area.
Following the tragic animal attack, Disney grounds crew have constructed a fence around the lagoon. They have also posted signed cautioning vacationers of the danger.
When a property owner invites people to enter the property for commercial purposes, including paid vacations, the owner has a heightened duty to make sure the premises are safe. When a property owner or business operator breaches this duty, he is likely legally responsible for resulting bodily injury.