Local Reptile Expert Discusses Alligator Incident

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GREGG TOWNSHIP -- Disney has closed the beaches in all its resort areas after a child was attacked by an alligator. The child's remains were recovered Wednesday afternoon.

Here in our area, parents and a reptile expert are weighing in on the tragedy and what may have caused it.

"The father tried to rescue the child and I suppose that it was a large alligator, probably impossible to extricate the child from the alligator," Clyde Peeling said.

Clyde Peeling is a reptile expert and owner of Clyde Peeling's Reptiland near Allenwood. The zoo specializes in reptiles and amphibians and has two fully grown alligators, Rocky and Adrienne.

According to Peeling, alligators are normally afraid of people. He stressed that gators rarely attack humans and the alligator may have thought the child in Florida was an animal.

"The animal is doing exactly what it's been programmed to do through evolution. It's a predator and this is a small mammal," Peeling said.

The female gator actually swam away from us while we were inside the alligator enclosure.

The reason someone is able to stand so close to them is that she is too big for a meal. But a small child at the edge of the water is a different story.

"These animals are well fed. They're captive animals. That's not to say they won't bite you if you're foolish enough to get right up next to them," Peeling said.

There were a lot of people checking out the alligator exhibit.

"It's easy for people to wander into the wilderness and think they have a good grasp on things. But we just always have to respect what's out there," Daniel Woytoich said.

"If you're in their habitat and I guess they're hungry, they're probably going to, they don't know the difference between humans and other animals in the water," Teresa Dicavolo said.

While Peeling's alligators are fairly trained, they are still wild animals. But Clyde Peeling would not have let us into the enclosure unless he knew I would be safe.

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