Child Traumatized by SeaWorld Animal Attack

in SeaWorld

The original Shamu performing at SeaWorld San Diego in the 1960s

Credit: SeaWorld

An animal attack at SeaWorld left a child “traumatized,” according to a recent report.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is one of the largest theme park companies in the world, unique for its combination of marine life education and conservation and industry-leading rollercoaster technology. The American-based company owns multiple theme parks and water parks worldwide, including Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Adventure Islands Tampa Bay, Discovery Cove Orlando, Aquatica Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Diego, Sesame Place San Diego, SeaWorld San Antonio, Aquatica San Antonio, Discovery Point, Sesame Place, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Water Country USA, and SeaWorld Abu Dhabi.

Corky looks through the glass at SeaWorld San Diego
Credit: Martin Wippel via Flickr

Though SeaWorld theme parks are some of the most popular, they’re also the most controversial. A documentary called Blackfish (2013) shined a light on the company’s treatment of one of its orcas, Tilikum, who killed three people during his lifetime at SeaWorld Orlando. Many animal lovers protested SeaWorld in the film’s aftermath, led by People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Unfortunately, the SeaWorld theme parks are all too familiar with tragedy. This June, another killer whale bit a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando, breaking multiple bones. Many advocacy organizations have called for the release of captive orcas and questioned the theme park company’s treatment of its other marine animals, including dolphins.

Dawn Brancheau with an orca before the fatal attack.
Dawn Brancheau, a SeaWorld trainer, died after an orca attack in 2010. Credit: Dawn Brancheau Foundation

But one traumatizing animal attack wasn’t carried out by one of the captive SeaWorld park animals. This week, Reddit user u/socks4dobby recalled a memorable incident with a seagull at one of the SeaWorld theme parks in 1991.

The seagull ripped a churro out of the then-five-year-old’s hand. But it was a SeaWorld employee’s behavior afterward that upset the guest even further.

“My dad hadn’t even walked away from the churro cart yet, so he asked for a replacement,” the guest explained. “The guy told him he’d have to buy another and I remember my dad saying, ‘come on’ and then everyone in line telling the churro man to just ‘give the kid another one.’”

 A sea lion entertains guests at SeaWorld San Diego.
Credit: SeaWorld Parks

“Everyone seemed very annoyed that this guy had the nerve to charge us for another one,” they continued. “And I agree—no, I really didn’t want another one in case I was attacked again, but it was messed up that he was going to make my dad buy another one.”

“I’m traumatized by the attack,” the guest wrote. “I was 5 years old and sobbing as I clutched my dad’s leg for shelter from the demon bird.”

Have you visited a SeaWorld theme park? Share your experience with Inside the Magic in the comments. 

Please note that the story outlined in this article is based on a personal SeaWorld Guest experience. No two Guest experiences are alike, and this article does not necessarily align with Inside the Magic’s personal views on SeaWorld operations.

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