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8 year old girl fails at feeding dolphin at Sea World, ruins it for other 8 year olds.


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Initial post: Dec 2, 2012 6:08:23 PM PST
Eight-year-old Jillian Thomas is so obsessed with dolphins that when her parents brought her to SeaWorld Orlando last week, she made sure to visit the dolphin cove twice.

But she and her parents received the fright of their lives when the marine mammal lunged toward her during the feeding and snapped his toothy snout around the 8-year-old's hand.

Her father, Jamie Thomas, captured the Nov. 21 attack on video with images of his little girl's face contorting with pain when the dolphin bit her hand. He posted it online as a warning to other parents.

"The first thing I thought was I would have to jump in the water and save my daughter's life," Thomas said. "I literally thought she was going to be pulled into the water."

Thomas said Jillian suffered three puncture wounds the size of dimes and her hand became swollen. The cuts are healing, but Thomas said he and his wife are unhappy with the way SeaWorld employees seemed to trivialize the bite.

SeaWorld officials said in a statement they had not seen the video but are taking the matter seriously.

"Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our guests, employees and animals," the statement said. "Educators and animal care staff were at the attraction when this happened and immediately connected with the family."

The Atlanta-area family came to Orlando to visit their family and knew they had to make a stop at the theme park featuring their daughter's favorite animal, said Amy Thomas.

She said they paid $7 each to feed the dolphins fish at the popular attraction after spending regular park admission to get into SeaWorld.

Guests are given instructions not to wear loose jewelry, touch the dolphin's head and under no circumstances, move the paper tray holding the fish from the edge of the pool.

"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," Amy Thomas said. "But I felt safe. Everyone just imagines dolphins as smiling, non-biting animals with knobby teeth. You forget these are wild animals."

She doesn't remember what the signs at the attraction said but warned her son, 5-year-old James, to be careful just moments before his sister was attacked.

Jillian was happily tossing the scraps of fish into the awaiting mammal's mouth when she instinctively lifted the plate to indicate she was done. That's when the dolphin lept out of the water, the video shows.

The animal's mouth shut around the girl's hand, pulling her toward the water and then, it let go.

It was the second time that day her daughter had visited the dolphin cove and Jillian may have forgotten the rules in her excitement, her mother said.

"The second it happened, one of the employees came over to Jillian to ask her if she had a positive experience and realized she was bleeding," Amy Thomas said. "[Jillian] made a mistake but you can't hold a minor responsible for that."

A first-aid provider treated Jillian's wounds and asked if she had had a tetanus shot but her parents were told they had no reason to worry.

SeaWorld officials confirmed that a member of their health-services team treated Jillian, assuring that "educators and animal care staff were at the attraction when this happened and immediately connected with the family," according to a statement.

They expected a manager to talk to them but they were given ice and a bandage, the family said.

"It was strange how they downplayed the whole thing," Thomas said. "At the time, we thought we were at fault but these are children. We just want other parents to know the dangers."

When he asked employees whether bites occurred frequently, they replied that it was rare.

In 2006, two adults had to pry open a dolphin's mouth to free a 7-year-old from its grip. It bit the boy and bruised his hand but SeaWorld authorities at the time told the Orlando Sentinel they were confident with the attraction's setup and would not change anything.

The bite was the second time a dolphin had bitten a child in three weeks in 2006.

Amy Thomas said the gravity of the bite sunk in after she returned home and did some research about the bacteria inside the mouths of marine mammals. Some, she said, are harmful to humans.

Jillian did not get an infection but she was melancholic for a few days. She worried the dolphin was might be hurt after eating the paper plate in her hand and she prayed for it, her mother said.

The aspiring dolphin trainer's love for the animal hasn't relented but her parents said for now, Jillian won't be getting too close - at least not at SeaWorld.

The family said they don't plan taking any legal action against the theme park but would like officials to either raise the age for children participating in the attraction and remind parents that dolphins bite.

"I'm just thankful it wasn't worse," Amy Thomas said.

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 6:42:30 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 2, 2012 6:43:12 PM PST]

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 6:45:42 PM PST
"She doesn't remember what the signs at the attraction said but warned her son, 5-year-old James, to be careful just moments before his sister was attacked."

So you as a parent, the responsible adult here, fail to take note of the safety warnings and remember what you're instructed to do and not do but somehow this is the park's fault? I'm sorry but it doesn't work that way. You're the parent and it is your job to protect your child and make sure they understand things like this. You went there twice and don't remember the safety warnings? You failed. Not the park. Not your daughter. You did.

I remember as a kid doing stuff like this and my mom would always take an extra moment or two so she could explain things to me making sure I understood and why otherwise I wouldn't be allowed to do something like this.

Next time make sure your child is capable of understanding the rules and that you're paying attention as well because you need to be there to communicate these things to your kids to make sure they understand. They don't just have rules like "DO NOT MOVE THE PLATE FROM THE EDGE OF THE WATER" just because they think it is a nifty rule.

Fail parents are fail.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2012 6:53:55 PM PST
Anthony says:
"'The second it happened, one of the employees came over to Jillian to ask her if she had a positive experience and realized she was bleeding," Amy Thomas said. "[Jillian] made a mistake but you can't hold a minor responsible for that.'"

um, yes, yes you can. i'm sorry, but this is the kids, and, more to the point, the parent's fault.

this reminds me of a few years back when i went to Six Flags in CA. this mother started complaining to the manager after her kid got pissed on by a tiger because he was too close to the exhibit. there was a sign right there clearly warning of that possibility. which is why my friends and i were well away from the enclosure.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2012 7:18:30 PM PST
AndrewA says:
The only thing I would fault the park for is not having an employee with the kid while she was feeding the dolphin. I wouldn't leave it up to parents to make sure nothing happens. And I'm not saying that excuses the parents either.

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 7:46:45 PM PST
[G.H.O.S.T.] says:
"Her father, Jamie Thomas, captured the Nov. 21 attack on video with images of his little girl's face contorting with pain when the dolphin bit her hand."

How about putting the iPhone away and smacking the dolphin upside the head? This is your child, man!

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 8:02:55 PM PST
K Archer says:
Pretty much, this seems like a case of parents not explaining the rules (and not really paying attention to them themselves), a kid not paying attention to the rules (I'm sure she was told them before being able to feed the dolphins...but too many kids don't listen), an animal being involved (which means, no matter how well-trained it is, its still an animal and may react in a negative way at any time for any reason, especially around strangers), and parents blaming the park for what most likely is their (including the kid's) fault. I would have liked the rules to have been in the article, but still; an (exotic) animal is involved. That alone should make any sane person be more careful and make sure that your kids know the rules (like I said, a stranger can explain rules to a kid a million times and they still may not listen or purposefully ignore...of course, a lot of kids nowadays don't even listen to their parents, so...)

Any animal I don't know, I'm going to be careful around. Yeah, my pets I'm not going to be so "careful" because I know them and know the warning signs and what to do and what not to do, and they know me. I would think any sane person would be the same; extra careful around strange animals. I don't care how well-trained your dog is, I'm going to still be cautious because I don't know them and they don't know me. And if its an exotic animal (for "common" pets, birds especially...I know how unpredictable they can be and how strong their beaks are; I own a macaw) I am definitely going to be careful around them.

I also hate how clueless these parents are about dolphins in general; "Everyone just imagines dolphins as smiling, non-biting animals with knobby teeth. You forget these are wild animals." they said. Sure, they are often seen as friendly animals, and there are many stories of them helping people get back to shore and fighting off sharks...but there are also plenty of stories of them killing people. And its their fault for "forgetting" that they aren't domesticated (which still doesn't mean 100% safe like I'd bet these people think).
Dolphins are very smart animals...but then again, so are we. And there's no way these people would let their kids be around just any (human) stranger.

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 8:07:52 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 2, 2012 8:09:15 PM PST
When I saw the thread topic I thought this story was about Oskar and his love for the Dolphins but I guess it was another 8 year old. I'm going to have to agree with others, especially Ghost. Act like a responsible parent and help the kid instead of pulling a Bittersweet and blaming others for their shortcomings.

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 8:11:42 PM PST
Cinema Fan says:
Jamie Thomas? As in the skater that did the leap of faith?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2012 9:35:24 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Aug 22, 2013 5:33:23 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2012 10:16:34 PM PST
"[Jillian] made a mistake but you can't hold a minor responsible for that."

So true. You hold the legal guardians responsible, instead. Idiot.

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 12:16:08 AM PST
Rlt says:
Parents are at fault here. No question.
Great title! Sounds like something from the Onion

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 3:06:14 AM PST
Looks like they will put age limit or stating park isn't liable.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 5:06:42 AM PST
WeScYdE says:
Come on now, you cannot have an employee with every kid that is their feeding. Thats the whole point of the signs. Now in the future they may want to just explain over loud speaker or i could see them getting rid of the trays in favor of something else possibly

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 5:28:03 AM PST
MrFoxhound says:
First blood has been drawn. The battle lines are set. The age of men is over. Now rise, the age of DOLPHIN!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 5:30:21 AM PST
GUEST!! says:
I fear our new masters, the Dolphins, in their robotic walking machines.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 5:31:13 AM PST
MrFoxhound says:
I'm going to cover my house in tuna nets so I'm protected when they try to come after me.

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 5:33:13 AM PST
Cats Go Nyan says:
It was probably Pedobear in a dolphin suit.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 5:42:28 AM PST
GUEST!! says:
I'm so glad that I'm reading this before a lot of people came into the office. I'm laughing so hard right now.

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 5:46:44 AM PST
FOGE says:
Id like to send the family a Christmas gift. 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (And Other Useful Guides)

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 5:47:06 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 3, 2012 5:47:58 AM PST
"Amy Thomas said. "[Jillian] made a mistake but you can't hold a minor responsible for that."

It's Bush's fault!
No, but seriously, the fault lies with the parents here.

"Amy Thomas said the gravity of the bite sunk in after she returned home and did some research about the bacteria inside the mouths of marine mammals. Some, she said, are harmful to humans."

Maybe derpy Amy should've researched that beforehand.

"The family said they don't plan taking any legal action against the theme park but would like officials to either raise the age for children participating in the attraction and remind parents that dolphins bite."

The sad thing is that the US court system is so messed up that these people could've probably made a million bucks off of their own negligence.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 5:51:26 AM PST
WeScYdE says:
remind parents that dolphins bite

Really Amy! also after seeing the video this morning the dolphin was going after the empty tray it just happened to be in the girls hand. Would not say the dolphin went to intentionally bite her for no reason

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 9:57:14 AM PST
AndrewA says:
Did they have a bunch of kids feeding at the same time? I would assume that's a one at a time kind of thing
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Discussion in:  Video Games forum
Participants:  19
Total posts:  23
Initial post:  Dec 2, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 3, 2012

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