A thrilling time feeding bottlenose dolphins at SeaWorld Orlando turned frightening for one 8-year-old girl.
The dolphin bit the girl on Nov. 21 as she moved a paper plate that held the fish she was feeding them. The incident was captured on video.
Jillian Thomas was feeding the dolphins at SeaWorld Orlando’s popular Dolphin Cove attraction when one went after a plate of fish she was holding.
“Mom, I'm out of fish. Whoa, whoa, whoa...,” said Jillian Thomas as she was bitten by a dolphin.
“I accidentally held it (the plate) up and the dolphin jumped up and ate the carton and bit my hand,” she told ABC News.
The girl and her parents are now talking about the nearly two-week-old incident. They admit that Jillian made a crucial mistake. Out of excitement, she raised the small plate of dolphin food in the air. It's a move that SeaWorld warns visitors not to do.
Her souvenir were the teeth marks the dolphin left in her hand, puncture wounds about the size of dimes.
Her parents are furious and urged the park to make things safer.
“Something needs to change because this wasn't the first incident of its kind,” says Amy Thomas, the mother of the bite victim. “It’s not going to be the last. She's not going to be the only child that lifts that plate.”
In a statement, SeaWorld officials in Orlando said, “Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our guests, employees and animals.”
The girl was taking part in the "Dolphin Encounter" program. The same program also takes place at SeaWorld San Diego.
SeaWorld San Diego echoes that statement.
"We also have trainers and education specialists at our Dolphin Point during park operating hours interacting, monitoring and guiding guests, and ensuring they have a safe and positive experience," SeaWorld San Diego told 10News.
Parents of the girl say they have no intention of filing a lawsuit.
But, they are urging SeaWorld to make changes such as raising the age limit for the program or warning parents that dolphins can and do bite.
As for Jillian, she says she still wants to pursue a career working professionally with dolphins. And, instead of her own wounds, she has been more concerned about the dolphin and the plate it swallowed.
On Monday, the girl and her parents speaks exclusively to "Good Morning America," following 10News This Morning.