Sunday, July 28, 2013

Marineland Denied Beluga Bite

A few months ago Elizabeth Batt wrote an interesting article about captive cetacean attacks on visitors to marine parks. The article featured several videos of attacks but as Batt put it "only represent the tip of the iceberg,"  What remains unknown is how often captive marine mammals attack visitors during petting, feeding and swim with sessions.  There are certainly more and more videos surfacing these days with the widespread use of high quality cellphone video.  Many incidents are likely to go unreported or may even be smoothed over with visitors by park authorities nervous about litigation.

In August of 2000 an 11 year old Kansas girl was bitten by a Beluga whale while visiting Marineland.  Amber Brown was not participating in a feeding session that Marineland offers. She was just waving her hand out over near the edge of a tank containing Belugas when one rose up and snapped at her hand.  Amber's 18 year old brother Nick witnessed the strike and wasn't sure if the whale made contact until he noticed a stream of blood running down Amber's forearm.  A Marineland staff member provided basic first aid to bandage the wound.

Amber's parents reported the incident to Marineland administration and asked officials for someone to take them to the hospital so a doctor could look at Amber's wound.  They were refused and the tourists were simply given directions to Greater Niagara General Hospital.  Marineland also refused to refund the family's admission or help them with the upfront medical costs required at the hospital.  Amber received 4 stitches to close the wound along her thumb and a tetanus shot.

When reached for comment about the incident Marineland owner John Holer flat out denied the possibility of a whale bite.  "We didn't think it was a bite. We thought it was a scratch.  She might have got it somewhere else."

No telling how many other incidents like this, if any... have played out at Marineland since Amber Brown's experience.  Marineland does not release information.

No comments:

Post a Comment