Firefighters fed Gator near Toddler-snatching Disney Site: Report

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (CBS NEWS) -- Firefighters at Walt Disney World were warned to stop feeding alligators at one of the resort's fire stations two months before an alligator killed a toddler.

According to emails obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, Reedy Creek Emergency Services admonished firefighters for feeding at least one of two alligators at a station less than a half-mile from Seven Seas Lagoon, where 2-year-old son Lane Graves was killed after being pulled into the water by a gator.

The Sentinel explains that Reedy Creek "is the Disney-controlled taxing district that provides government services to the theme parks and surrounding areas."

Feeding alligators is illegal because it causes the animals to lose their natural fear of humans.

"You would think that the firefighters would be a little bit more in tune with the trouble that could cause and not do it," David Hitzig, executive director of the Busch Wildlife Center, a refuge and nature center in Jupiter, remarked to the newspaper. "You would figure they would have more common sense than that. ... When you feed an alligator, you're attracting it to people.".

The email said employees were afraid after one gator was spotted near the parking lot and asked officials to remove it.

Reedy Creek District Administrator John Classe said Disney's animal-control department was contacted but he did not know whether either alligator was ever removed.

A Disney spokeswoman said Wednesday it was unclear whether the gator had been removed.

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