When many people think of dolphins, it’s kind of like, hey, they’re just like us! They’re smiley and chatty and probably struggle with their secret love of Justin Bieber. But an 8-year-old girl recently found out they’re still wild animals at heart, and as such, unpredictable. Her parents are accusing SeaWorld Orlando of trivializing an incident where a dolphin bit their daughter during her visit to the dolphin cove.
The Orlando Sentinel says the girl was fairly obsessed with the sea mammals, and made sure to visit the cove twice during her visit. But then things suddenly went wrong when one dolphin lunged at the girl and bit her hand — an incident caught on tape by her father.
One of the main rules when feeding dolphins is that visitors should under no circumstances, move the paper tray holding the fish for the animals. Unfortunately, the little girl forgot that a rule after tossing scraps to the dolphin, and lifted the plate to show she was all out of food. That’s when the dolphin moved to bite her.
“The second it happened, one of the employees came over to Jillian to ask her if she had a positive experience and realized she was bleeding,” the girl’s mom said. “[She] made a mistake but you can’t hold a minor responsible for that.”
The girls father says the result of the attack are three puncture wounds the size of dimes, and that her hand became swollen. After the incident, employees treated her wounds and asked if she’d recently had a tetanus shot and told the parents not to worry. While the girl seem to be healing fine, the parents don’t think employees took the incident seriously. The family thought a manager would at least talk to them, but were simply handed ice and a bandage.
SeaWorld said in a statement that the company hadn’t seen the video, but are looking into the matter, writing:
“Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our guests, employees and animals. Educators and animal care staff were at the attraction when this happened and immediately connected with the family.”
For his part, the father wants other parents to see the video so they can avoid similar incidents.
“It was strange how they downplayed the whole thing,” he said. “At the time, we thought we were at fault but these are children. We just want other parents to know the dangers.” He and his wife want the theme park to raise the age for kids visiting the attraction and remind parents that dolphins bite.
As for the little girl, she was mostly worried the dolphin would suffer after eating the paper plate that was in her hand, says her mom.
Dolphin bites girl at SeaWorld Orlando [Orlando Sentinel]