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Re: [Fwd: Please Read This]

Poster: "Mario M. Butter" <mbutter@tower.ml.org>

Water mocassins don't enter human inhabited areas, so this story does not
sound feasable; the only way it would be possible is if this restaurant
had *just* opened that day, and they were the first children in the
playground.  If this restaurant had been open for any length of time,
with children playing everyday (or nearly so) then any wildlife in the
area would have moved on.

Even if there had not been a court case it would have entered the
newspapers. In addition to "ambulance chaser" lawyers in emergency
rooms, there are also newspaper informants. I see articles about people
complaining about the ads on the back of the Burger King receipts in
the paper here (Baltimore, MD).

>From the Snopes site (www.snopes.com):

      Claim: Venomous snakes lurk in the ball pits of fast food restaurants. 

      Status:   False. 

      Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 1998] 

            About a week or so ago, a mother took her eager 3 year old son
            to Burger King for lunch. After they ate their lunch the
            mother said that the son could go and play on the playground
            for awhile since he ate all his lunch. 

            She watched as the boy played in the tunnels, slide and in the
            ball-pit. The boy played for about 10 minutes when he started
            to whimper slightly. 

            The mother asked the boy what had happened and he mearly
            replied, "Hurt mommy." The mother assumed that the little boy
            had banged his elbow or something while playing. 

            They left to return home. A half and hour after they were
            home, the mother noticed some big red welts on the little boys
            arms and legs. Not being able to figure out what they were,
            the mother started to look at them closer. Could be red ant
            bites . . . she did not know. 

            An hour later, the little boy died. Come to find out, when
            returning to Burger King to see if there were red ants in the
            play area, in case the little boy had an allergic reaction.
            Burger King employees and herself discovered that there was a
            family of baby rattlesnakes living underneath the balls in the
            ball-pit area. She has since found out that this happens more
            frequently than not. The snakes will crawl into the ball pit
            because it is dark and warm in there. She knows for a fact
            that another death has occurred because of this in South
            Carolina. Please use caution when letting any children play in
            an outside play area of a fast food resturant, this could
            happen anywhere. Burger Kings are now building their play
            area's inside the buildings for more safe environment. 


            McDonalds and Burger King are named as places where this tragedy
            occurred, with the nod going to McDonalds as the one most
            frequently cited. 

            The fatal fanging is said to have taken place in Arlington and
            Dallas, Texas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Arizona; and Alabama. 

            Although the rattlesnake is the most common critter mentioned,
            water mocassins and "vipers" also stand accused. 

      Origins:   Despite their benign appearance, children's indoor
      plastic ball pits have their health and safety problems. Those who
      clean the ball pits report finding everything from used syringes to
      dirty diapers. Before letting your child loose in one, make sure
      the play area's maintenance staff spot clean the pit once a day
      and wash all the balls every week. Diapers come off in ball pits,
      and half-eaten candy is routinely found in there. More disturbingly,
      syringes and knives have turned up in ball pits as well.

      Yes, ball pits have their dangers. But snakes aren't one of
      them. That part is pure lore.

      People have been reporting hearing this tale since at least the
      mid-1990s. It's a horrific tale of a parental nightmare -- one
      wants to believe there are at least some places a child would be
      safe in. If not a supervised play area, then where?

      Though this legend has gotten around, there are no real life
      incidents which match up with it. No children have been bitten
      by snakes lurking in a ball pit, fatally or otherwise. Though
      injuries and one death have occurred in ball pits, none of them
      were snake-related.

      It's no wonder: a ball pit is one of the last places an animal such
      as a rattlesnake would choose for a residence. Just as we dislike
      snakes, they don't much care for us, either. A rattler will avoid
      people and inhabited areas whenever possible. As well, snakes
      are cold-blooded and depend upon their environment to regulate
      their temperature.  Therefore, they seek out places that will keep
      them warm when the weather is cool, and vice-versa. Snakes tend to
      burrow under things like rocks and sheets of metal that provide
      shade when the weather is hot and offer surfaces for basking in
      absorbed or reflected heat when the weather is cooler. The bottom
      of a ball pit doesn't see the light of day, and thus is much too
      cold and damp an evironment for a rattlesnake.

      Also, snakes do not live in "families." The female rattlesnake gives
      birth in a nest and continues on her way -- she doesn't wait around
      to make sure the young ones are all right, nor does she attempt
      to care for her young in any way. With no parents to take care of
      them, the newborn snakes have no reason to remain together as a
      family unit.  Their number one priority is to scatter in search
      of food, not huddle with one another.

      Analysis:   This legend of a child fatally encountering a
      venomous snake in an amusement area is closely related to a
      similar tale about a wooden carousel horse. A little girl rides
      the merry-go-round to her death as her mother discovers all too
      late the painted hollow steed is home to a nest of vipers who
      bite at her daughter all through the ride.  Similar tales abound
      of snakes nesting in roller coaster cars just unhoused from winter
      storage and bad-tempered venomous vipers fanging any hand carelessly
      trailed in the water of an amusement park's Tunnel of Love.

      The message is clear -- danger lurks amidst the gaiety, and a
      wise parent never takes his eyes off his kid. The juxtaposition
      of venomous snakes and amusement areas makes an even stronger
      statement than if these selfsame snakes were putting the chomp on
      youngsters in less carnival-like settings -- say, a schoolyard or
      a department store.  Such legends work to caution parents to not
      relax parental vigilance even in presumed safe settings.

      Barbara "bawl pit" Mikkelson 

>From the Burger King official site:

What is the postion of BURGER KING CORPORATION regarding false email

October 23, 1998

Burger King Corporation has learned of an e-mail being circulated on
the internet that FALSELY alleges the injury and death of a child while
playing in a playground ball pit resulting from a rattle snake bite.

To be positively clear, the incident outlined in the e-mail has no basis
in fact relative to any Burger KingŪ restaurants.

Burger King Corporation takes the dissemination of this false rumor very
seriously and will vigorously pursue any and all remedies available to
us against the originator(s) to the fullest extent allowed by law.

All questions regarding this rumor can be directed to Burger King
Corporation Consumer Relations, 17777 Old Cutler Road, Miami, Florida
33157, or by calling 305-378-3535.


Mario M. Butter            |GAT d-- H-- s:+ !g !p au !a w+++ v- C++++
mmbutter@tower.ml.org      |UL++++ P++ L+++ 3- E--- N+++ K--- W--- M-- V--
mmbutter@erols.com         |-po+ Y++ t+++ 5+++ jx R+ G'' tv++ b+++ D B---
#include <std_disclaimer.h>|e+ u** h---- f?  r+++ !n y** GeekCode v2.1

ICQ: 11513263

Oh Lord, give me patience...and GIVE IT TO ME NOW!

On Wed, 11 Nov 1998, Brenna wrote:

> Mario M. Butter wrote:
> > Poster: "Mario M. Butter" <mbutter@tower.ml.org>
> >
> > Name of town and reference to newspaper article; without either of these
> > it's an URBAN LEGEND.
> >
> > Mario
> If you care to call the lady in question a liar, then do.  Not I.  Besides,
> the cynic in me sees that some "urban legends" are not exactly that.  Good
> marketing strategy involves keeping it out of court.  When the child goes to
> the hospital, the mother just reports that she was bitten by water moccasins.
> They don't ask where or how...they just treat.  Who knows?  If mom takes the
> money and keeps quiet, who is around to alert the press?  Where is the story?
> Even her lawyer keeps his mouth shut for the money, and he's the only one who
> knows in the first day after the accident.  Good marketing...one of the first
> things taught in the classes I took on it.  Rumors kill businesses, and even
> the competitor wants it squelched.  The reason?  Even if that Mc Donald's was
> the only case, it'll be a dozen by next week and it will be Wendy's by next
> month and Burger King by the month after...the one down the street from you in
> a year (all by word of mouth).  As for where, I can tell you that she lived in
> both Orlando and Miami while her son was young.  She never specified the
> place.  I can try to reach her when she comes back from vacation.  But, I will
> tell you that a woman who is a little embarrased by the fact that she still
> feels guilty for being relieved that the little girl went in before her son
> wolfed down his happy meal and got there first strikes me as a pretty reliable
> source...just a mother thing, I guess.
> Brenna

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