SeaWorld in Orlando was left defending itself and its long-time dolphin feeding pool attraction after an 8-year-old girl was bitten on the hand last month, and the father posted the video of the incident on the web this past weekend.
In the video, shot on November 21st, the girl, Jillian Thomas is seen standing at the pool’s edge along with several other people feeding the dolphins. As the girl turns away and picks up a paper plate that the food had been on, a dolphin pops up out of the water and grabs the stunned 8-year-olds hand in its mouth for a few quick seconds and lets go. She ended up receiving three puncture wounds in the hand.
The father, Jamie Thomas says he decided to post the video of the dolphin bite because there were no signs at the attraction warning visitors that the dolphins could bite, nor did any of the staff issue a warning beforehand, and that SeaWorld’s poor handling of the situation afterwards.
“We felt powerless,” Thomas, said in explaining their decision to post a video on YouTube. “We thought, look, we’ve got this video, let’s make it public, and let’s try to put some pressure on SeaWorld to make some changes.”
Thomas says that SeaWorld should at least raise the age limit of visitors allowed to participate in the feeding of the dolphins.
After the bite mother, Amy Thomas complained that, “They did not tell us to look out for any signs of infection. We had to ask for Band-Aids.”
SeaWorld spokeswoman Becca Bides said in a statement, “educators and animal care staff … immediately connected with the family. In addition, a member of our health services team was in the area at Dolphin Cove and quickly responded and treated the young girl.”
Bides added, that staffers gave “specific instructions to not pick up the paper trays at any time.”
“Our guests are given clear instructions on how to feed the dolphins in an appropriate and safe way,” Bides said. “… Unfortunately, there are times when instructions are not followed.”
The Dolphin Cove attraction in Orlando was opened in 1973 and there have been no reported incidents at the feeding pool involving visitors, up until now.