SeaWorld Orlando has been under fire lately over their protocol and control of staff after an incident that occurred on Nov. 21. After being bit by a dolphin when trying to feed it fish, the young girl had to ask for First-Aid without it being provided immediately, according to USA Today.
Jillian Thomas, an 8-year-old girl from Alpharetta, Georgia was at SeaWorld Orlando feeding dolphins with her family when a dolphin lunged at the fish she held, puncturing her hand. "I was thinking it was going to haul me into the water," she told CNN. "And this is a little crazy, but I thought it was ... going to eat my hand off."
The girl's father, Jamie Thomas, was with her at the time of the incident and described the moment as "instant fear." Initially, he thought he would have to dive in and save his daughter because SeaWorld employees were not intervening immediately. Finally, "they asked if she wanted first aid, and I said 'she's bleeding' so yes, we want first aid," Jamie said.
A video taken at the time of the incident was posted on YouTube and immediately went viral, tarnishing the SeaWorld name for their lack of proper protocol. In defense, SeaWorld spokeswoman Becca Bides said on-site "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," according to CNN.
However, the damage was not yet done. Jamie Thomas continued to complain that SeaWorld employees did not warn them or other visitors that the dolphins may bite. "We felt powerless," Jamie Thomas told CNN, in explanation for why he put up the YouTube video. "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."
SeaWorld spokeswoman, Becca Bides again apologized on behalf of the company, stating, "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."