POSTED: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 1:00pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 1:04pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Dolphins are among the most intelligent mammals, but at the end of the day, they're still animals. At SeaWorld, where visitors can get up close and personal, feeding the dolphins, one 8-year old little girl learned a painful lesson about their unpredictable behaviors.
For Jillian Thomas of Alpharetta, Georgia, her dolphin close encounter turned out to be too close, when one of the dolphins literally bit the hand that was feeding him, with the whole scary incident captured on camera.
Jillian suffered three puncture wounds and swelling on her left hand.
Her mother, Amy Thomas tells NBC affiliate WXIA in Atlanta, Jillian was nearly pulled into the water, and she says she was upset because park employees didn't seem to treat the incident with a sense of urgency.
In a statement, SeaWorld says, "Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our guests, employees and animals." And they, "certainly take the situation seriously."
Food for the dolphins comes on small trays and in this earlier video from the same exhibit, a SeaWorld announcer warns visitors not to pick them up.
In the video Jillian can clearly be seen picking up the tray, but Jillian's mother claims she never heard a warning.
In a statement from SeaWorld, they went on to say that, "Our guests are given clear instructions on how to feed the dolphins. The instructions include specific directions not to pick up those paper trays." SeaWorld says it monitored and immediately responded to this situation.