Trouble at Sea(World): Problems Mount as Dolphin Bites Girl

Published by Michelle Kretzer.

Victor Hugo said, “An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.” And SeaWorld is finding out exactly what that means.

Problems keep mounting for the marine-mammal abusement park. Barely more than a year after a PETA complaint prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to cite SeaWorld Orlando for violations of the Animal Welfare Act—including allowing dolphin and orca tanks to fall into dangerous disrepair—the park has racked up more, repeat violations for many of the same issues.

Nakai was injured on a sharp metal edge in his tank while reportedly fleeing from an aggressive altercation with two other orcas.© Ingrid N. Visser, Ph.D.
Nakai was injured on a sharp metal edge in his tank while reportedly fleeing from an aggressive altercation with two other orcas.
SeaWorld was just cited for failing to maintain the flooring at its Sea Lion and Otter Stadium. The rubber flooring on which the animals walk during shows was dangerously dislodged and littered with paint chips. The park had been issued a repeat citation in 2007 for the same problem. During the most recent inspection, SeaWorld was also cited for continuing to keep dozens of expired surgical sutures—which can become unsterile, result in premature suture failure, and lead to life-threatening infections in the animals—in its surgery room despite a previous USDA directive to develop a protocol for disposing of expired sutures.

When it comes to violating animal welfare laws and endangering animals, the park’s attitude seems to be “meh.”

Maybe that’s why yet another no doubt frustrated captive dolphin has bitten a child. A dolphin at SeaWorld San Antonio’s Dolphin Cove latched onto the hand and wrist of a 9-year-old girl so tightly that the child’s mother was unable to free her and a SeaWorld employee had to intervene. PETA has filed a formal complaint with the USDA asking the agency to investigate and hold SeaWorld accountable for endangering both the dolphin and the public in violation of federal law.

Dolphin Biting Girl at SeaWorld

Many children have been bitten by stressed animals at SeaWorld’s parks, most recently in December 2012, when an 8-year-old girl sustained puncture wounds while hand-feeding a dolphin at SeaWorld Orlando.

This most recent incident happened just a few days after another dolphin was born into a lifetime of captivity at SeaWorld Orlando’s Discovery Cove. Let’s hope the park doesn’t choose to separate the baby from her mother, Rose, and ship her off to a different park.

And if SeaWorld is ignoring all the other signs that it’s time to free the animals, there was one that it certainly couldn’t ignore. PETA employee Alka Chandna took a bold stand during the company’s presentation at the Washington, D.C., Travel and Adventure Show last Saturday. Here’s the video:

At about the same time, more than 100 protesters were lining the entrance to SeaWorld Orlando, flanking both sides of the road with signs decrying SeaWorld’s cruelty. The information was enough to make several drivers turn around and leave. And those who still entered the park certainly had some food for thought as they stared at majestic ocean animals living in tiny tanks.

SeaWorld Orlando Demo 2-22-14

To try to save face, SeaWorld is waging an expensive media war complete with misleading information, discounted tickets, and Facebook contests. But the park can’t run from the truth.

Help show SeaWorld that you’re not buying it—either its propaganda or its tickets. For the latest news and shareable posts, “like” PETA, Blackfish, and The Cove on Facebook. And be sure to e-mail SeaWorld and tell it that the animals there have suffered enough and deserve to spend the rest of their lives in ocean sanctuaries.

Get PETA Updates

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to our collection, storage, use, and disclosure of your personal info in accordance with our privacy policy as well as to receiving e-mails from us.

 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind