A pair of dolphins attacked a British girl at an “ethical” dolphin-encounter exhibit in Mexico that caters to tourists, The Sun reports. The animals dragged the girl under the water and bit her, leaving her with injuries.
Lexi Yeo, 10, was with her family in Mexico on a vacation provided by TUI, a European travel agency. While there, the family went to the Dolphin Discovery Experience in Cancún, an “ethical” dolphin encounter that contracts with TUI to provide experiences to TUI customers.
The young girl was in a dedicated sea pen with the bottlenose dolphins when, for reasons that remain in dispute, two of the marine mammals “went berserk” and attacked the girl. They dragged the screaming young lady under the water and bit and gnawed at her while the animals’ handlers tried desperately to command the dolphins let go. The animals ignored their commands.
Eventually, Lexi was able to grab onto a floating device, and a trainer was able to drag her to safety. She was later taken to a hospital, where she was treated for bite and puncture wounds. She also suffered deep cuts and bruising to her legs and feet.
The family cut short their holiday, for which they’d paid £7,000 ($9,053), and went home to England.
Mom Laura, who is herself a nurse, says that TUI is trying to put the blame on the dolphin-encounter operators.
“I’ve not even had a card, flowers or teddy bear for Lexi from TUI. They have washed their hands of us,” she said.
As for the exhibit, Laura says that operators are reluctant to take responsibility as well. She says that the operators have blamed the animals’ behavior on bad sea conditions that day, which reportedly “distressed” the animals. What’s more, they say that a rogue male dolphin was in the pen, which sent the other dolphins “berserk.”
Further, Laura says that the Dolphin Discovery Experience is still operating dolphin-encounter exhibits with tourists, and they’re still partnering with TUI.
“How long before this happens again — with even worse consequences?” she asked.
Though dolphins are often portrayed in popular culture as “friendly” animals who love humans, the truth is that they are wild animals and will behave as wild animals do, particularly when distressed.
Still, dolphin attacks on humans are exceptionally rare, and fatal ones rarer indeed. There is only one documented case of a bottlenose dolphin attacking and killing a human, The Sun reports.