Otter Attack: Family Sues Dallas World Aquarium

DWA Otter Enclosure_Carter Law Group
Exterior view of the otter enclosure at the Dallas World Aquarium. | Image by Carter Law Group

A Grand Prairie family has filed a million-dollar lawsuit against the Dallas World Aquarium after alleging their small child was permanently scarred by one of the Aquarium’s Giant Otters. An attack that the family and their attorney claim could have been prevented if not for the Aquarium’s negligence.

When Stacy Williams and her family visited the Dallas World Aquarium last May, she had no idea the day would end in over a dozen stitches and a months-long recovery for her 18-month-old son, Nathan.

According to the lawsuit they filed Monday when the Williams family approached the giant otters’ enclosure, Mrs. Williams knelt beside the plexiglass barrier with her older son. At the same time, her husband, 6 feet 3 inches tall, held little Nathan in his arms, well above the barrier.

However, the Williams family was not concerned, as their lawsuit states, “Nothing on the DWA’s website, informational pamphlets, or animal information screens advise visitors that the otters can be aggressive, can leap several feet out of the water, can reach over the exhibit, and can cause significant infections and injuries.”

At the time, the lawsuit alleges a Giant Otter was able to leap up above the enclosure and claw Nathan’s arm, leaving three deep gouges. Paramedics were called to the Aquarium, and they advised the Williams to take their child to the hospital, where he received more than a dozen stitches.

The next day the family was back at the hospital again due to Nathan spiking a fever. This time, he was diagnosed with a Pasteurella infection caused by bacteria carried in the mouths and on the claws of animals. Unfortunately, it would be another three months before the infection and wounds were healed entirely. Now, Nathan has been left with large scars on his arm.

The lawsuit includes social media posts from 2007 and 2013 where Aquarium goers make mention of the otters being on or above the barrier. “They knew in 2008 that they could get out, and they didn’t raise the plexiglass. They knew in 2013 that they could get out, and they didn’t raise the plexiglass, and now here we are in 2021 where nothing has been changed, and a baby has been injured and will have permanent scarring for the rest of his life,” the Williams attorney Heather Davis told NBC5.

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