Firefighters at one of the Walt Disney World
resorts were warned to stop feeding alligators just two months before a toddler was killed by one less than a mile away.
Fire Station 3 firefighters were asked to stop feeding the alligators around their station, located off Floridian Way on Maple Road. The station is less than a mile from Grand Floridian Resort & Spa,
where 2-year-old Lane Graves was vacationing with his family when he was drowned by an alligator.
According to at least three emails obtained by the Orlando Sentinel
, the firefighters for the Reedy Creek Emergency Services
, an organization which provides government services to Walt Disney World, were feeding at least one of the two alligators near their station.
On April 20, communications captain Claude Rogers sent an email to the fire command staff:
"It was brought to our attention firefighters are feeding the alligators (this is illegal)," the email says, according to the Sentinel.
"The communicators have found [one alligator] by the station, near the dumpster, and where they park their cars. As you can imagine this is making the communicators nervous because they are fearful of walking to their car and their leg becoming dinner. We have notified Animal Control to remove the alligator. In the interim could you ask your crews to stop feeding the gator."
After this initial email, the Sentinel
reports Rogers sent another to the Reedy Creek communications employees, writing:
"Several people have expressed concern of becoming alligator food because the alligator is seen out of the pond near the building, by the dumpster, and near the cars. The firefighters feeding the alligator only aggravates the situation. … Animal Control has been notified and I have spoken to B/C Brown requesting they tell the firefighters to stop feeding the alligator. He has already spoken to members of his crew and has passed this on to the other shifts."
Reedy Creek District Administrator John Classe says Disney's animal-control department was notified "but he did not know whether either alligator was removed," according to the Sentinel
The gators that firefighters were accused of feeding live in the pond behind the fire station and are estimated to be a baby and a 4- or 5-foot-long gator. Tim Stromsnes, who is president of the Reedy Creek firefighters' union, tells the Sentinel
he heard about a small alligator in the past, but he has never seen anybody or heard of anybody feeding it.