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Dolphin bites boy visiting SeaWorld

Leah Zanolla | Posted: Aug 28, 2006 | Updated: Oct 19, 2014 - 9:25:27 AM
Daytona Beach News Journal - A Port Orange boy who reached out to pet a dolphin was bitten on the thumb during his 7th birthday party at SeaWorld Sunday.

For three to four seconds, Hunter Ryan Quidor was "under a lot of pain" before trainers could free his hand from the mouth of a dolphin named "Beetle," a parent said.

Fortunately, dolphins don't have sharp teeth, so Hunter didn't lose any blood, said his mother, Hollie Bethany.

The second grader at Sweetwater Elementary just has a bad bruise on his right thumb, his mother said.

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the incident, which was the second time this summer that a dolphin has bitten a child at the Orlando theme park.

It's a second-degree misdemeanor crime for a wild animal kept in captivity to hurt someone, said Lt. Rick Brown. It's not likely the park will be charged, he said.

Bethany said she feels no animosity toward SeaWorld and has no interest in pressing charges. The mom is saving money to take her child back to SeaWorld for an interactive dolphin experience at Discovery Cove.

Over the weekend, Hunter and his friends had slept over at the park as part of the birthday party. He went to a petting area called "Dolphin Cove" early Sunday morning.

The dolphin "swam over like a torpedo," Hunter recalled Monday in a telephone interview. "It shot over."

The 7-year-old has forgiven the mammal. "I still like dolphins," he said.

Bethany faulted Beetle for being "hyper-excited" and told her son that it needed a "dolphin time-out."

Sea World spokesman Becca Bides said, "it was not an act of aggression. It was a playful act by a playful animal."

Bides said trainers will work with Beetle so the incident will not happen again. The dolphin is 3 years old, "just a baby," and made an error in judgment, Bides said.

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