It is a viral video that grabs the heart of any parent. In an instant you see a sea lion suddenly move, bite a little girl’s clothing, and drag her off a pier into the water.
It happened Saturday in British Columbia, Canada. Fortunately a man is able to jump in the water and rescue the girl. She walks away uninjured, though terrified.
Scott Carter, Chief of Life Sciences at the Detroit Zoo, says the video offers a lesson.
“When we see performing animals, like at the circus, we get false information about whether animals like to be around people. It is not good for animals and it is not good for us as this video shows,” said Carter.
Reportedly, the girl’s family fed the sea lion right before this happened. While sea lions don’t eat people, this sea lion likely associated people with food.
“A natural response to humans is different for a lot of animals. In general, the best thing for animals is to leave them alone. The best thing for animals is for us to not feed them and try to get close. Certainly when animals are habituated to being around people, and the sea lion looked like he had no fear, the best thing for animals is not to trust their intentions are good. Give them a lot of space,” said Carter.