In the end the parents were soothed. They were given free park passes. They had one of the Animal Care staff get inside the wall and walk around [the pool] to tell people over and over and over not to put the tray over the pool. For the dolphins it was something new in their environment that we were walking along the pool ledge. They would come up to us and bite our ankles and grab onto our ankles. It hurt, but we weren't allowed to show any reaction because then the dolphins would get a kick out of it and keep doing it. We'd have guests ask, 'Does that hurt?' and we'd say 'Oh no, it's not bad at all. They are just playing.' When really, it hurt pretty bad. Enough to let you know, 'I could really hurt you if I wanted.' Dolphin Rodeo
Taking care of a large group of often untrained dolphins presented some interesting Animal Care issues. The need to take regular blood samples, and to weigh the dolphins, among other routine husbandry practices, was particularly challenging.
Jim Horton: [Before Key West] SeaWorld had a smaller feeding pool. It was a long oval pool with a big island in middle. We had to go in there twice a year and catch every dolphin. And do a physical. The physicals were hard. We would basically drain the pool, about knee deep. [It had] somewhere around 20 dolphins. And we'd have a net or a couple of nets and we would single [the dolphins] out one by one and jump on them. The dolphins never went after us. Some would put up a fight, some wouldn't. It was very random, but you knew who would struggle and who wouldn't ... usually. This was based on age, sex and personality. Some didn't care, to some it was a game, some were unaccustomed to it. Two to four-year olds would always thrash around requiring at least four people to restrain, Older males and females were mellow, even Ralph [a more aggressive male dolphin]. But for human safety, there was a minimum of 4 to 6 guys required to hold the animals stable, and a few animals required as many people as possible. The standard was 2 guys at the head, 2 at the dorsal and 2 on the tail, one guy driving the crane [suspending the stretcher], one guy directing the crane and 2 guys to spread the stretcher from each end.