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Giant otter attacked 2-year-old at Dallas World Aquarium, lawsuit claims

The lawsuit, filed in Dallas County District Court on Monday, alleged that a giant otter at the aquarium "brutally attacked" a girl.

DALLAS — The Dallas World Aquarium is being sued over an alleged otter attack on a 2-year-old girl, according to court documents.

The lawsuit, filed in Dallas County District Court on Monday, alleged that a giant otter at the aquarium "brutally attacked" the girl and left her permanently scarred. A giant otter is a specific type of otter, native to South America.

The lawsuit is seeking damages of $250,000-$1 million, alleging physical suffering, mental anguish and permanent disfigurement.

The lawsuit claims the downtown aquarium was negligent in preventing the alleged incident and that it's liable for otter's "dangerous propensities," including claws and aggressive behavior.

The aquarium had not yet responded to comment Friday.

The incident allegedly happened on Sept. 2, 2019, when Samantha and Harlow Jorgensen took their daughter to the downtown aquarium.

The father, Harlow Jorgensen, placed his daughter on his shoulders due to the crowds in the aquarium that day, the lawsuit said.

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They eventually made their way to the otter exhibit, which is stationed near a walkway "directly in front of a plexiglass wall that is approximately five and half feet tall," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit described the otter exhibit as a "spacious cave-like atmosphere" with a large body of water behind plexiglass, where visitors can view the otters.

When the Jorgensens walked near the exhibit, the otter attacked their 2-year-old daughter, who was still sitting on top of her father's shoulders. Her father stands about six feet, three inches, but the otter was able to cut the girl's right middle and ring fingers, the lawsuit said. She also had her middle fingernail pulled off.

An on-site medic rendered first aid at the aquarium, and the girl was later given an antibiotic to prevent infection.

The lawsuit claimed that the aquarium, at the time, did not have a caution line near the exhibit, nor did it have any signage that warned visitors to not get too close.

Photos in the lawsuit from Oct. 14, 2021, more than two years after the initial incident, showed signage that says, in all caps:


The lawsuit also said the aquarium did not provide any information about the otters' "potentially aggressive behaviors," nor anything about otters' ability to "leap several feet out of the water" and over the exhibit toward visitors.

The lawsuit cited two previous claims made on social media -- on Trip Advisor in 2013 and YouTube in 2007 -- about otters reaching over and escaping their enclosure at the aquarium.

"Defendant did nothing With over 15 years’ worth of knowledge these Giant Otters’ ability to escape their enclosure," the lawsuit said.

Giant otters grow up to six feet long and 75 pounds, according to National Geographic.

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