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SeaWorld Cited for Endangering Animals, Tanks in Disrepair

Written by PETA | March 5, 2013

Update: Prompted by PETA’s complaint about a child who was bitten by a dolphin at SeaWorld, the USDA conducted an investigation and cited the marine park for several violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including the use of expired surgical materials, some almost a decade old. “The use of expired medications and materials … is not an appropriate method to treat injuries, or to prevent, control, & diagnose diseases,” the report noted. The USDA also documented that a dolphin tank and the areas surrounding the orca performance tank were in disrepair, including containing cracked and crumbling concrete and rusty beams that could pose a threat to the health and safety of both the animals and workers. The USDA pointed out that the unsafe conditions “might create a health risk if these pieces of concrete fall off into the pool and get ingested, or if they become abrasive” and that they “do not facilitate cleaning and disinfection.”

Originally posted on December 3rd, 2012:

Following the release of video footage showing a dolphin biting the hand of a young girl at SeaWorld Orlando, PETA submitted a complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requesting an investigation to determine whether the incident stemmed from Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations. 

Risky Business

The video shows 8-year-old Jillian Thomas feeding fish to the dolphin as part of the Dolphin Cove attraction at the park. When she raises up the paper carton used to hold the fish, the dolphin surges up to grab it, biting Jillian’s hand in the process. The girl sustained puncture wounds to her hand, and the dolphin may have ingested the entire paper carton.

AWA regulations require that animal attractions have “sufficient distance and/or barriers between the animal and the general viewing public so as to assure the safety of animals and the public.” PETA has also asked the USDA to ensure that if the dolphin did ingest the carton, the animal receive proper veterinary care, per AWA requirements.

A similar incident occurred in 2006, when a dolphin’s mouth had to be pried open to free a 7-year-old boy’s hand. It was the second time in three weeks that a child had been bitten at the attraction, but SeaWorld refused to change anything.

Amusement or Abuse?

These episodes provide further reminders (as if more were needed) of how little SeaWorld is concerned with safety in its parks—except, of course, for the protection of its ticket sales. Not only has its unwillingness to take necessary precautions caused children to be harmed, it’s also resulted in severe injuries and even the deaths of its trainer and the animals it holds captive

Even if SeaWorld implemented every safety procedure possible, though, life in captivity would still be miserable for the dolphins, orcas, and other animals imprisoned in its parks. Deprived of their families, social lives, and freedom of movement, these smart, sensitive beings grow increasingly frustrated, contributing to the risk for sudden, violent behavior.

Catch Kindness, Free Animals

Unlike SeaWorld, young Jillian is showing compassion—according to an Associated Press article, she prayed for the dolphin who bit her and hopes the animal “didn’t get sick from eating the paper carton.”

Teach kids to be kind: Please don’t ever take your family to SeaWorld or any other attraction that holds animals captive in cages or tanks

Commenting is closed.
  • migsly says:

    Turn SeaWorld into a nonprofit facility to nurse marine life back to health and then release. The only “entertainment” should be allowing people to watch them do this.

  • Jamie Knight says:


  • freeemall says:

    To truly appreciate what it is like for animals who live in zoos, a human being would have to be put in jail for an undetermined amount of time. Locked in his cell most of the day possible with another inmate, possibly not, and allowed to come out for a few hours into a larger caged area. There is nothing like the freedom to move around and go as far as your feet will take you. Just because they are animals doesn’t mean they don’t know how bad they have it. I think if you like zoos, you should try jail out for yourself. See how much it sucks. The worst feeling in the whole world is waking up there and realizing it wasn’t a bad dream, believe me, I know.

  • Neil says:

    Bob is clearly smoking some incredible weed!!!

  • Mary says:

    Bob – you are so wrong. The vast majority of captive dolphins and whales were either wild caught or decedents of wild caught animals. More than 50% of the captive animals die before their natural lifespan in the wild would occur. There is plenty of science to back this up. You cannot blame an 8 year old child for not following rules when Seaworld actively encourages young children to feed the dolphins without following the guidelines on captive cetaceans – there are supposed to be barriers between them, not just a low wall. Read Death at Seaworld, a new book, if you want to be better educated before you make statements that are not backed up by facts.

  • Gina Robertson says:

    Please all google THE COVE…a documentary about every year wild dolphins are brutally captured and sent to marine parks around the world…..SEAWORLD is just as much to blame….

  • Sara says:

    What do people expect when animals are confined all their lives and ripped from everything natural to them. The animals revolt!!! I would to if I lived in a confined space. Power to the animals and if they keep revolting, maybe just maybe people will not support ticket sales to see these poor defenseless animals. Oh well that the girl got bit. She gets her freedom, the animals don’t

  • Ricki says:

    Zoo’s are wrong. Although its great fun to see all sorts of amazing animals, its like walking through a prison. And the atmosphere is as such, not including that of us humans. Human nature is a selfish thing, and what makes me angry is that once upon a time, people were accidentally bitten (no harm done) and there was no uproar. I hope the girl is alright but personally it wasnt the dolphins fault. I mean, as if it jumped out of the water to bite the girls hand? Come on, people!

  • Ashley says:

    The little girl is only 8 and kids make mistakes and it is lucky that she wasn’t more seriously injured. These are large, potentially dangerous, wild animals and children should not be handing them food. I wish that these rotten Seaworld supporters would stop blaming her, she was just being a kid, and as a kid she got caught up the excitement and forgot the rules for a second. As for what bob said, these parks cannot come close to providing these animals with what they need so they should not be breeding them or buying them from live capture operations which are always traumatic and often deadly to the animals that Seaworld claims to love. When Seaworld does “rescue” animals they will not release them even if it is a feasable option. A “rescued” animal is nothing more than free equiptment to them. Because of the breeding program these animals are forced to breed too young and too often which causes physical harm to their bodies, sometimes even killing them. Seaworld insensitively tears apart the families that it creates with it’s breeding program just so that it can make more money by shipping them around the world on breeding loans, and so that it can distribute the animals throughout it’s own parks to replace the dead ones. This causes social strife which causes stress and aggression and leads to fighting and attacks. Seaworld is a bussiness. Seaworld is about money and the company line and not education or the beauty of marine life.

  • Autumn says:

    I think that maybe the person in zoos have the best idea in mind, but they have other people take care of them, so they took a turn for the worse. Maybe if people were t treat them better by playing with them, keeping them together and so forth, they could be a bit happier.

  • A.L says:

    Dolphins are wild animals they were born in the sea they do NOT belong in captivity were they cannot swim were they want! also SeaWorld trains dolphins to do tricks and stunts that aren’t natural! Dolphins are forced to do tricks their whole lives! Just for the delight of humans!Poor Dolphins!

  • ricky says:

    You know, it’s surprising that everyone on this comment section(and in PETA for that matter) care about the sake of a dolphin than they do an 8 year old girl.

  • BunnyM3 says:

    Dolphins are intelligent creatures. It is obvious that he was slashing out in anger. What does anyone expect when you cage animals for amuzement?

  • Veronica says:

    I am new to PETA and so happy for the new lifestyle I have but I have a question related to this. Can anyone give insight on how to respond to people who say Seaworld takes in the injured sea life as do zoos? I always assumed that the sea life and animals were from breeding programs. Am I wrong?

  • Bob says:

    SeaWorld posts clear procedures and safety warnings for the dolphin cove, as well as other attractions. It was clearly the fault of the child and its parents for not following the necessary procedures. On a side note, the animals kept in such parks are not simply “taken from their natural habitat.” Most of them are unfit for survival in the wild, or have been bred in captivity. Currently, the natural environment of these animals can be quite dangerous, with hunting, pollution, and such. SeaWorld promotes education of the beauty of marine life, inspiring people to protect the animals and their natural habitats.

  • Tanya says:

    Seaworld is disgusting!!!

  • ellise says:

    i understand why it is so cruel and inhumane to keep animals in cages for there whole life and anyone who dosent is so oblivious to reality but what really makes me mad is that the people who run the zoos and aquariuoms claim they are doing the best they can to protect animals from becoming extinct when really all there doing is looking out for themselves because they are greedy and all they think about is money!! and im sorry if the dolphin bit there daughter but its not like its caused serious harm or injuris to her or anything its just a couple of marks!! plus the dolphin was obiously going for the food not her hand!!

  • ellise says:

    i understand why it is so cruel and inhumane to keep animals in cages for there whole life and anyone who dosent is so oblivious to reality but what really makes me mad is that the people who run the zoos and aquariuoms claim they are doing the best they can to protect animals from becoming extinct when really all there doing is looking out for themselves because they are greedy and all they think about is money!! and im sorry if the dolphin bit there daughter but its not like its caused serious harm or injuris to her or anything its just a couple of marks!! plus the dolphin was obiously going for the food not her hand!!

  • LIsa says:

    Seriously this made soo angry, another dumb thick family take their kids to seaworld yeah teach your kids by taking them to feed captured animals ho are trained to do what they told and the more people that feed them th mor the more money the park gets. Watched th utube footage comments have been disabled wonder why??? The kids father mouthes about is it safe to take your kids to seaworld, has he wondered how safe the animals are??? maybe the doliphin just got pissed off with people being arseholes and having to perform everyday for idiots like that.

  • Paula Meson says:

    Dolphins should live in freedom, they belong to the sea. Please free the dolphins! Let them enjoy their lives, it’s their right.

  • Anna Heinrichs says:

    When you so love to put sonething in tanks, try it yourself first. We will see how much you are going to enjoy it…

  • joanna says:

    The only solution is to ban all the places,where animals are kept in captivity!…

  • soltysiak says:

    remettez les dauphins en liberté ; cessez de les capturer pour distraire des idiots qui n’ont pas compris que le plus beau des spectacle c’est de les voir nager en liberté

  • Michelle connolly says:

    Dolphins clearly do not belong in captivity, don’t pay in to see these mammals perform stupid tricks for humans. Poor dolphin was probably starving . Sea world disgust me.. If they had any interest in animal welfare they would show insight & compassion. The killings & capture in Taiji Japan needs to stop. These artificial surroundings keep Taiji cruelty alive..

  • sapna says:

    boycott any attractions that holds animals captive

  • Kathleen Ferrary says:

    Are all your “show dolphins” able to go back to their natural environment or has SeaWorld made it impossible for them to do so?

  • cathy says:

    I’m sorry that a dolphin bit their daughter..but if you see the last section of the shows..CLEARLY, that it was aiming for the food and not for her hand..her hand was in the way. The dolphin was waiting was the fish from her…it was no body’s fault. its merely an animals reaction to food. Stop making a big deal out of it !

  • Bob Fisher says:

    Screw you SeaWorld and all your greedy kind!

  • Tracy says:

    These animals are not Meant to be captured in captivity but how God made them to be out in the open in The wild to be free.God made animals for us to appreciate not to destroy or Be mean to.he gave them to us for our pleasure n watch them in their own environment for this is their world also and they were here before us.animals are innocent it’s the human race that is horrible.

  • Heather says:

    The trainers and the parents should both have been watching the child and the dolphin making sure that no harm would come to either of them.

  • Richard Bohmer says:

    All these animals belong in their own habitat and NOT at any seaworld! It’s not the fault of the dolphin and he/she was only following his instinct, trying to get the fish food, not the girl. So please don’t make this bigger than it is and set these and other beautiful animals free!

  • Amanda says:

    give it up already, when children or anyone is involved with feeding animals, they should expect to get bitten sometimes, if they dont follow safety instructions.

  • bratwic says:

    This child was not supervised! I have fed the dolphins many times and have never came close. Teaching children how to be kind, and be careful is what needs to done. Do you get rid of all the dogs and cats in the world who have bite some child when the child was teasing the animal. The dolphin saw the paper and grabbed.

  • theanimallover says:

    the dolphin was just jumping up as of pattern. it new the fish were in the container. just as if a dog would if you were feeding it treats and put the treats away and the dog continued to begand look for them.

  • Caroline creaney says:

    Sorry but if we humans can take a living creature from its natural environment for our entertainment and financial gain then it is only us humans to blame when things like this happen!