Dolphin bites girl at family theme park
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An eight-year-old girl was bitten by a dolphin at Sea World Orlando last week, while feeding it fish scraps at a Dolphin-fedding session.
Jillian Thomas was left with three puncture wounds and a swollen right hand after the incident, and her father feared that she was going to be dragged into the water.
Jillian's father, Jamie Thomas, captured the incident on video and has posted it online to warn other parents that these type of attractions might not be as safe as we assume.
He told the Orlando Sentinel: "The first thing I thought was I would have to jump in the water and save my daughter's life. I literally thought she was going to be pulled into the water."
Jillian's mother, Amy Thomas, added: "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."
The Thomas family made two visits to the Dolphin Cove during their stay in Orlando, as dolphins are Jillian's favourite animal.
Guests are given instructions not to wear loose jewellery, touch the dolphin's head or move the paper tray holding the fish from the edge of the pool.
Jillian was bitten when she lifted up the empty paper tray to show that she had run out of fish.
Sea World officials said in a statement: "Nothing is more important to us that 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."
A first-aider treated Jillian's wounds, which are now healing, and asked if she had had a tetanus injection. Her parents were told they had no reason to worry.
However, the Thomas family have said that they were not happy with the care they were given.
Mr Thomas said: "It was strange how they downplayed the whole thing. At the time, we thought we were at fault but these are children. We just want other parents to know the dangers."
The family don't plan to take legal action, but they would like officials at the park to either raise the age limit for dolphin feeding or remind parents that dolphins do bite.
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