Shocking video shows 'spooked' dolphin attack trainer during Miami Seaquarium routine

The park officials of the Miami Seaquarium said in a statement that the dolphin, named 'Sundance', was spooked after running into the trainer


                            Shocking video shows 'spooked' dolphin attack trainer during Miami Seaquarium routine
The screengrab shows the dolphin lunging at the trainer as she tries to swim to the pool's edge (Credits: Shannon Carpenter Photography)
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A shocking video shows the moment a dolphin at the Miami Seaquarium diverted from its routine to attack its trainer in front of a gasping crowd on Saturday, April 9. Sundance, a 23-year-old dolphin who has lived at the Seaquarium his entire life, turned violent during the Flipper show. 

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In the video footage shared by a spectator, the dolphin can be seen lunging at a trainer swimming in the water. Once clear of the animal, the trainer can be seen frantically swimming for the edge of the pool and hoisting herself out. Another trainer then comes to check and console her as she kneels in shock, visibly shaken. The trainer was immediately taken to an area hospital after the incident. It is not known whether the dolphin was still performing after the attack. 

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Shannon Carpenter, the spectator who captured the video, talked about the incident in an interview with WPLG Local 10. He said: "One trainer that was furthest away from the video either kept getting hit by the dolphin or pulled down by the dolphin." He explained, "The kids were cheering and thinking this was neat" before adding that, "You could tell the adults knew something was wrong." 

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In a statement, park officials of Miami Seaquarium said the dolphin was spooked after running into the trainer. "A dolphin and trainer accidentally collided in the water on Saturday while performing a routine behavior as part of the Flipper Show," they added. "This was an uncomfortable interaction for both of them and the dolphin reacted by breaking away from the routine and striking the trainer." 

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As a precaution, Miami-Dade County safety authorities were contacted, the park officials said. "Our family extends to include the animals in our care, our team members and our guests. While there is no apparent serious injury, a careful watch and follow-up evaluations will ensure the best care for all," they added. 

The unnerving episode is not the Seaquarium's first brush with controversy. Last June, the USDA issued a 17-page report accusing it of a host of animal welfare violations - including feeding rotten fish to animals and keeping an orca named Lolita in a crumbling tank for 25 years. 

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Animal welfare group PETA issued a scathing statement in response to Saturday's attack,. "Time is up at Miami Seaquarium, where long-suffering dolphins desperately need protecting and workers are at risk," the group wrote. "PETA urges this abusement [sic] park to end its exploitation of dolphins by getting them into sanctuaries as quickly as possible, where they'd never be used in tawdry shows again and no-one else will get hurt." 

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