5-year-old bitten by fish sparks more scrutiny of SeaQuest

5-year-old bitten by fish sparks more scrutiny of SeaQuest

5-year-old bitten by fish sparks more scrutiny of SeaQuest

New video of a fish biting a 5-year-old boy on the hand at SeaQuest in Roseville is putting more scrutiny on the company, just one day after a nationwide investigation of the controversial chain of interactive aquariums by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and ABC News.

The boy’s mother, Tanya Fleegel, contacted 5 INVESTIGATES after recording the incident involving her son Tuesday.

“The fish jumped out of the water and got his hand,” Fleegel said. “It scared him, but I was surprised to see that it actually broke skin too.”

In a statement, SeaQuest said, “All protocols were followed,” but Fleegel says staff only offered to take an incident report after she left and later returned to ask about the kind of fish — a trout — that bit her son.

“Their response was that fish can get excited at any time,” Fleegel said. “There wasn’t really any feeling of remorse.”

Her account of what happened in Minnesota is similar to those shared by parents whose children were also bittby en animals at other SeaQuest locations across the country.

ABC News found people reported being bitten or scratched by the animals at various SeaQuest locations at least 76 times since the company opened its first location in Layton, Utah, in 2016.

Fleegel’s son, Jack, makes it 77.

“Thankfully, my incident was just a fish. It wasn’t the iguanas or the sloths or the other animals,” Fleegel said. “Jack… He loves going on adventures. I’m afraid he’s going to be afraid to do something like this again.”

5 INVESTIGATES’ reporting also sparked reaction from more former employees as well as local and state leaders, including U.S. Representative Betty McCollum (D-Minn.).

In a statement, the congresswoman said her office has contacted the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which licenses zoos and aquariums, for more information.

“This investigation of SeaQuest raises serious concerns about safety for guests and workers, and cruelty to animals,” McCollum said. “The Animal Welfare Act requires minimum standards of care and treatment for animals exhibited to the public. The law must be enforced and issues resolved.”