ORLANDO — A 10-year-old girl who was bitten on the leg as she sat in shallow lake waters in Lake Mary Jane near Orlando told reporters she used a tip she remembered from a trip to Orlando's Gatorland attraction to escape the animal's powerful jaw, authorities said.
The girl was with her family at the lake in Moss Park in Orange County when she was bitten Saturday, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Chad Weber.
Weber said she was sitting in water roughly 2 feet deep when the 8-feet-9-inch gator bit her on her knee and calf.
The girl poked the alligator in its nostril, advice she remembered hearing at Gatorland, in order to wriggle free, WFTV reported. The girl told the station that she also pried the gator's mouth open to free her leg.
Going after the nose is just what Donald Aldarelli, a trainer at the alligator-themed attraction, told WFTV people should do.
"If you're ever in that position where an alligator were to grab a hold of you, the nose, not the eyes, the nose is the spot you want to go for," Aldarelli said. "To get an animal with the strongest bite on the planet to let go of you is a miracle. … I'm just happy that she heard it here. I'm happy that she remembered."
The girl's family took her to a hospital for treatment, where she received 10 stitches in her leg, mynews13.com reported.
A trapper contracted by the FWC caught the alligator and euthanized it.
Orange County Parks and Recreation manager Matt Suedmeyer said the park's waterfront areas were closed to swimmers for at least a week while the FWC conducts a review of the alligator situation at the lake.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that a triathlete swimming in another lake flanking the park survived several bites from an alligator in 2010.
There have been 388 alligator bites on people in Florida since 1948, including 24 fatalities, according to the wildlife commission.
A 2-year-old Nebraska boy was killed by an alligator at Walt Disney World last June when the 7-foot animal dragged the child from the edge of a lagoon. Six non-fatal alligator bites also were reported statewide last year.