Reality bites! Yet another set of parents has learned that zoos are not Disney flicks and that animals with sharp teeth combined with children isn't perhaps the best idea in the world. An 8-year-old girl was bitten by a dolphin at SeaWorld as she fed it fish. Luckily, this episode of When Zoo Animals Attack (or rather -- Act Like Animals) didn't end tragically like the child who was killed by wild dogs in the zoo. That hasn't stopped the parents from kicking up a fuss though.
Jamie and Amy Thomas were visiting SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida with their daughter, Jillian. Jillian stands along a ledge with other adults and children, feeding fish to the dolphins, who jump up to snatch the food out of their hands. Already this seems like a disaster in the making.
The feeders are explicitly told not to pick up the dish which contains food, but Jillian does exactly that when she runs out of fish and grabs the dish to show it to her mother. No big surprise there. What kid is going to follow the rules when the excitement of feeding dolphins are involved? I bet a lot of adults forget this rule too. But it might have helped if, instead of spending their time filming and taking pictures, the parents had monitored the feeding.
Now the dolphin leaps out of the air and bites the dish -- and also the girl's hand. The teeth leaves a few puncture wounds. The kid is scared but not excessively injured. Dad hovers over her with the camera, insisting on filming the damage. She repeatedly says she doesn't want her hand filmed, and finally mom promises, "We won't show it to anyone." So of course they then upload the video to YouTube to "warn other parents" of the dangers of feeding dolphins. (Check out Dad's inflammatory language: He titles the video "Dolphin Attacks Girl" and introduces it with "A Scary Moment." Drama much?)
Well, if this keeps parents and kids away from feeding dolphins, I say great. They are kidnapped from the wild and forced into enslaved entertainment, in case you weren't aware (though SeaWorld counters that most of their dolphins were born there). Mom Amy Thomas told the Florida Sentinel:
I am such an overprotective parent that if I knew my child might get bitten, I would not have even let my daughter do this. But I felt safe. Everyone just imagines dolphins as smiling, non-biting animals with knobby teeth. You forget these are wild animals.