Young Girl Bit by Dolphin at Sea World as Mom Watches in Shock

 girl with dolphin

 Jillian Thomas, was visiting Sea World with her family, fulfilling one of her dreams of feeding the dolphins. Unfortunately, the dream afternoon turned dangerous when the dolphin she was feeding wanted the entire plate that the 8-year-old was holding and lunged into her arm, bit her, and nearly pulled her into the water.

She came away with the fright of her life and small holes the size of dimes as a souvenir of her day at Dolphin Cove. It could have been much worse; she could have been pulled in and drowned but when it’s your child, even the tiniest scratch is too dangerous. 

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Jillian’s mom caught the entire thing on videotape. She was shocked at what she saw through her lens and even more appalled at how the Sea World staff handled the situation. While, Sea World specifically warns people not to lift the food plates, their aloof nature after the incident upset the family. 

What would you do?

I, personally, used to be the girl who wanted to swim with the dolphins and get as up close and personal with nature as possible. There is just something about being able to co-exist peacefully with wild animals, because that is what they are. I guess, for adults anyways, there is also a slight thrill in knowing that by doing these things, we are pushing limits.

I am no longer the person who wants to hold monkeys, swim with dolphins, pet a whale or befriend a lion cub.

You know why?

Because I grew up and I realized that wild animals don’t like to be caged, no more than human beings. I realized that though they may be force domesticated, they still retain their natural animal instincts. I realized that in order to be able to peacefully co-exist with wild animals, I need to let them peacefully exist on their own and I need to do the same.

Wild animals are always wild animals and to think otherwise is naïve. How many whales have to drown their trainers? How many chimpanzees need to rip the faces off of their caregivers? How many wild animals need to do what comes naturally to them before we realize, it’s not them, it’s us?

This dolphin only wanted the plate of food. He can’t ask for it. She lifted it up and the dolphin tried to take it. He wasn’t trying to hurt the child. The people who are at fault are Sea World which gives people a false sense of security and leads them to believe that since they paid for it, it must be okay to get all handsy with the wild animals.  The other party responsible is the little girl’s parents. 

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I would never let my children put their hands anywhere near a wild animals mouth, no matter who said it was okay because common sense proves otherwise. I am sure that many times it is safe but those are the times that we are lucky. We have no business using wild animals as entertainment.

It’s awful that this happened but I hope it brings attention to other parents and next tome they think it’s cute or a great photo or video op to take of their children, they remember this little girl getting her arm bit and how easily she could have been drowned.

Would you let your child feed the dolphins up close and personal like this?

 Image via Flickr Rene Mensen

What do you think?

Young Girl Bit by Dolphin at Sea World as Mom Watches in Shock

Deborah Cruz, @TruthfulMommy, is the creator of The TRUTH about Motherhood, an often humorous and brutally honest look at motherhood. She's a writer, a wife, and a work-at-home Mommy who's trying to do it all well. She live in the Midwest with her 2 little girls and her husband. She has a lot of degrees from a bunch of schools but mostly spends her days shuttling people under the age of 7, while trying to maintain her sanity and she wouldn't have it any other way. She talks a lot. She ... More

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15 comments

  1. gfeld says:

    There should be an age restriction to feeding the dolphins. It would make such situations obsolete.

  2. Mommadee says:

    Oh no !! See me and that dolphin would have to fight!! I would try my best to punch it in the face

  3. Cecilia says:

    Animals may look friendly but also be dangerous i dont think after reading this i would let my children feed the dolphins.

  4. Marina says:

    I would let them feed the dolphins. I would ensure that they are abiding by the recommendation like how to properly feed them. Also parents need to take responsibility and realize that there are always risks with anything.

  5. Veronica says:

    I’m just glad the little girl is physically ok 🙂

  6. Dennis says:

    Our parents had me, my brother, and sister all sitting on Major the lion at six flags one summer so many years ago. That cat may have been knocking on death’s door, but he was still breathing. No helmets, shoulder pads, or safety goggles either. Still have the photo to show it!

  7. Ellesar says:

    The staff could see that the child wasn’t badly hurt, AND people are warned about feeding the dolphins! If you can’t heed a warning and understand that a dolphin is not just a toy, but a real living animal – and a very large one – then you really are a bit stupid.

  8. Keivin kon says:

    Paretns are mad b/c the staff was aloof?? So if the staff panicked, then the parents would be ok with that. I’m sure the staff was concerned about the bite and are trained to NOT painc.

  9. mabrysdad says:

    Oh sure. Why don’t you take your toddlers to feed the lions next. THAT sounds like a good idea!

  10. First of all we’re season pass holders to Sea world and feed the dolphins often. My TODDLER feeds them. If you follow all the instructions you’re completely safe. Second the little girl was TOLD not to lift her plate… the dolphin wanted the food dropped. You’re also told how to specifically hold the fish and how to feed them. Third, the mother was doing everything but what she SHOULD have been doing. Was there anyone else with them that could’ve been taking video while she helped her child feed the dolphins and was making sure she was doing it right. At what point did the mother not tell her child "No, don’t hold the whole plate up!" apparently never. They do an awesome job of keeping you safe and making sure you do right but they can’t be right behind every single child saying "don’t do this, make sure you don’t do that". That’s the PARENT’S responsibility. Sea world’s reaction is JUST FINE thank you very much. The mother should’ve been responsible and making sure her child was following instructions while feeding a wild animal. She knew better. Stop demonizing sea world and its super awesome staff over this and report the whole story. (Like how the dolphin barely even LEFT a mark on the child and did NOT ATTACK her, it was simply trying to get her to drop the food. Trust me if the dolphin WANTED her in the water they would’ve pulled her in immediately before anyone knew what happened)

  11. Kate says:

    Having been to SeaWorld only last week with my 10 year old and done the feeding experience, children and parents are given very clear instructions as to HOW to feed the dolphins…..if you follow the rules, you are quite safe….

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  13. so scary! oh my goodness!

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