Lowcountry tourist destinations react to alligator attack

Lowcountry tourist destinations react to alligator attack

WEST ASHLEY, SC (WCSC) - Lowcountry tourist destinations are warning visitors about alligators after the tragic attack at a resort in Disney World Tuesday.

Several of the historic Charleston plantations are home to the reptiles.

Chris Smith, the zoo curator at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, said there are about 200 alligators that live in the waters at the site.

The gators range anywhere from 12 inches to 14 feet long.

Smith said there haven't been any major issues between the alligators and people.

"We've had a couple instances where females, guarding their nests and their young, have hissed and charged some people, but no one has ever been attacked by an alligator here," he said.

The safety of the plantation's visitors is the number one priority.

Signs are posted all over the landscape telling people what they should not do.

"We want to make sure we make people aware these are wild animals, they are big predators," Smith said. "We are typically not part of their natural diet. They do have a natural fear of us and they will retreat if approached."

The attack in Orlando appears to be an exception.

"When I heard, I was just like, 'eww," said eight-year-old Dylan Cooper, of Tennessee.

"It's a tragedy," said Joan Cooper, Dylan's grandmother. "There should be precautions to keep that child safe."

"It's just kind of scary that someone would let their little kid run around water like that," added Alice Justice, of Tampa, Florida.

Smith said when visiting places like the plantation and other areas around the Southeast, common sense is key.

"Any body of water could potentially have an alligator in it," he said.

You always have to be careful around water," Justice added. "You just never know when they're there."

If you do see one, don't feed them.

"They're very fast in the water," Smith said. "Their tail is half of their body length so they can propel themselves through the water, jump half their body length out of the water."

Smith adds if you leave the wildlife alone, most of the time they'll do the same for you.

Gators will come out of the water at times to lay in the sun.

You're also urged to stay away from bodies of water during the evening hours as that's when gators are most active.

A spokesman for Middleton Place said management continuously monitors the alligator population on its land.

He went on to say one alligator was removed from the property Wednesday.

They urge people to keep their distance from the reptiles and leave them alone while in their environment.

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