(NEW YORK) — Feeding the dolphins at Sea World was a dream come true for 8-year-old Jillian Thomas, until one of the marine mammals bit into her arm, nearly dragging her into the water.
Jillian’s mother took video of her daughter, who says dolphins are her favorite animal, feeding them at the theme park’s Dolphin Cove.
Jillian was in the middle of her second visit of the day to the friendly looking animals when she made a crucial mistake, lifting a small plate of dolphin food in the air out of excitement, something the park warns people not to do.
The dolphin, eager for the food, chomped down on Jillian’s arm instead, nearly dragging her into the water.
The 8-year-old walked away from the encounter with a set of teeth marks the size of dimes.
Her parents are furious and claimed Sea World employees “trivialized the attack.”
“Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our guests, employees and animals,” Sea World said in a statement. “Educators and animal care staff were at the attraction when this happened and immediately connected with the family.”
The Thomas family said it has no plans to sue Sea World, but they are urging the park to increase the age limit for children who are allowed to feed the animals.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com
Sonia Moghe and Wayne Drash, CNN
Paul R. La Monica, CNN
Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN