250 alligators removed from Disney since boy died in 2016 attack


A boat belonging to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is parked at a dock at the Seven Seas Lagoon outside Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa near Orlando, Florida on June 15, 2016.
An American family’s Disney vacation turned into a nightmare when an alligator snatched their 2-year-old boy at the shore of a resort lake and the father was unable to pry the toddler from the animal’s jaws. (GREGG NEWTON/AFP via Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla. (NEXSTAR) — Wildlife officials have removed 250 alligators from Disney properties in the five years since a 2-year-old boy was killed by one of the reptiles at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

The company has worked with trappers contracted through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to remove the alligators.

Agency spokeswoman Tammy Sapp says most of the nuisance gators are euthanized and sold for their hide and meat. Some are also transferred to alligator farms, animal exhibits and zoos.

Disney also installed a wall and put up reptile warning signs along waterways throughout its resorts after Lane Thomas Graves was killed in June 2016.

The Nebraska toddler was playing outside the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa on June 14, 2016, following an outdoor showing of “Zootopia” on the beach outside the hotel. He and other children were building sandcastles, and Lane was collecting water in a bucket. The boy’s sister, Emma, was in a playpen 20 to 30 yards from the shoreline.

It was about 9 p.m. — prime hunting time for alligators — when Lane waded into ankle-deep water and the alligator snatched him by the head and dragged him underwater. Witnesses tried to save him. Matt Graves attempted to pry the gator’s mouth open, but the animal escaped with Lane.

Disney closed its beaches the next day as authorities searched for the alligator and the boy. Lane was found in 6 feet of murky water 10 to 15 yards from the shore, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said at the time.

Lane is now memorialized with a lighthouse sculpture near the site of the attack. The gold brick lighthouse features two blue stars, commemorating the youngster who introduced himself by saying, “I’m Lane Thomas; I’m 2.”

Disney said it erected the sculpture to spread awareness of the family’s Lane Thomas Foundation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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