ORLANDO, Fla. – Eight-year-old Jillian Thomas was having the time of her life, getting up close and personal with dolphins, her favorite animal.
As her mom and dad captured her feeding the dolphins on camera, she picked up the tray of fish to say she was done. That’s when a dolphin leapt out of the water to get the tray, and instead got Jillian’s arm.
The dolphin closed its jaws on the 8-year-old’s arm and pulled her toward the pool before letting go. The Thomas’ said the dolphin’s bite punctured Jillian’s skin in three places and caused minor bleeding.
This all happened as the Thomas’ were recording.
SeaWorld said in a statement that “nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our guests employees and animals. Educators and animal care staff are always on-site at this area monitoring all interactions and are committed to guest safety.”
The Thomas’ said they were told repeatedly not to pick up the trays (when done feeding) but the 8-year-old just made a mistake, and forgot.
Still, they said “We think of that attraction at SeaWorld as dangerous and it was traumatic for us to go through that event.”
In fact, the Thomas’ say they won’t be back at SeaWorld and they hope others will heed their warning.