SAN ANTONIO -- The animal rights group PETA has filed a complaint against SeaWorld San Antonio after a visitor came forward with photos that were allegedly taken at the park showing an injured dolphin.
The animal rights organization wasted little time filing the complaint to the United States Department of Agriculture.
According to the letter of complaint, a visitor took several photos and a video on Sunday of a bottlenose dolphin that appeared to have suffered a laceration to its lower mandible, or jaw.
The official complaint and request for investigation was sent to the USDA on Tuesday morning.
Jared Goodman, a lawyer for PETA, said the USDA is required to investigate all complaints, and it usually takes between 30 to 60 days until information is available to the public.
"It's clear from the photos that there's a huge laceration on the dolphin's chin, and really this could only be caused by an unsafe edge or protrusion in the tank," he said in a phone call Tuesday.
PETA wrote in its letter to the USDA that any unsafe edge or protrusion in the tank would place SeaWorld San Antonio in direct violation of the Animal Welfare Act.
In an emailed statement, SeaWorld San Antonio said:
"The young dolphin in question was born at SeaWorld. She experienced a minor, quarter-sized abrasion several weeks ago, and she’s under the care of SeaWorld’s veterinary professionals. The minor injury is now well on its way to being completely healed."
"Should the U.S. Department of Agriculture request additional information on this matter, we will cooperate fully and are confident they will reach the same conclusion."
"The health and well being of our animals along with the safety of our guests are SeaWorld’s highest priorities, and we remain in compliance with all laws concerning animal welfare"
Goodman noted in the letter that the gash in question resembles a laceration suffered by an orca at SeaWorld San Diego in October. The USDA later concluded that the injury probably was caused by the whale scraping against a part of its tank.
The letter also states that SeaWorld San Antonio received an official warning in January for failing to provide drain covers.