Since he lost one of his hands to an alligator on Tuesday, Wallace Weatherholt’s friends, family, and coworkers have indicated that they plan to raise money to help support the Everglades tour guide’s recovery. I’m encouraging people, including Mr. Weatherholt, to donate funds to wildlife-protection organizations in memory of the alligator who was executed for being an alligator.
In the WBBH video provided above, news anchor Peter Busch says, “The attack happened in the Everglades … in front of a boat full of tourists.”
Reporting from Everglades City, Florida, Saundra Weathers tells us, “One woman said she was horrified by this experience, because (she) and her family, including two young children, looked on as that boat captain had his hand ripped off by a gator.”
In her voice-over, Weathers says, “Judy Chroniak-Hatt and her family looked on in fear as a nine-foot gator ate food from their tour guide’s hand moments before actually eating their tour guide’s hand. … Weatherholt … was rushed to the hospital, the gator euthanized and cut open to retrieve the hand, but we’re told doctors weren’t able to re-attach it.”
So, while Weatherholt could face charges for essentially baiting the alligator into a photo-op, the alligator was put to death for being an alligator.
The arrogance of man’s desire to appreciate and admire other species on our terms never ceases to disappoint me. Florida wildlife officials should be ashamed of their punitive reaction to Tuesday’s incident. Claims that the alligator had to die for his or her transgression — and in the interest of public safety — or because wildlife officials were desperate to recover Mr. Weatherholt’s appendage are as convenient as they are unsophisticated.
It is absolutely obnoxious that Mr. Weatherholt’s employer, Captain Doug’s Everglades Tours — which, let us not forget, is in business thanks to the species who inhabit the region — “will be opening an account at a Collier County bank where friends, acquaintances and supporters can make donations for the benefit of the Weatherholt family to help them through this traumatic time,” and that the company is “also planning a fundraising event for the Weatherholt family,” according to its website.
Mr. Weatherholt should not be compensated for his recklessness. If he has any respect at all for the species on whom his livelihood ultimately depends, he’ll donate any and all funds he receives from friends, family, and coworkers to an organization that works to protect and defend wildlife from us.