Did People Feeding the Alligators Provoke the Attack on the 2-Year-Old? – Slate Magazine

Biologically speaking, it makes sense that the animal would need to have some reason for seeking out the child. Although it’s obvious that most alligators could inflict serious damage on any given human if it wanted to—even the gator in question, which was reportedly as small as four feet in length—gators tend to leave humans alone unless provoked. That’s because humans and alligators have not historically coexisted, at least not on an evolutionary time scale. As their sense of “Can I eat this or will it eat me?” evolved, humans and human-shaped things were not present, and therefore, the animals tend to see us as foreign, which means they lay low or flee. The alligator mindset is: Better safe than sorry. But if an animal is constantly fed by a human, it could reduce the animal’s fear of us. And this may have made the alligator more likely to attack.

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