Girl, 6, attacked by shark at open-top aquarium in Chinese shopping mall

Child has deep gashes and multiple fractures after shark jumped up and snapped at her hand, according to local media

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 July, 2018, 5:07pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 July, 2018, 2:25pm

A young girl was left with deep gashes and multiple fractures to her hand after she was bitten by a shark in an open-top aquarium at a shopping mall in southwest China.

The six-year-old, identified only as Xiao Li, had been looking at sharks in the aquarium with her grandmother and aunt on Tuesday when one of them jumped up and snapped at her hand, according to news website Colourful Guizhou.

The mall, in the city of Guiyang, Guizhou province, was not named in the report on Thursday.

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Her right hand had fractures in nine places and deep wounds, the report said. Photos online showed the girl’s bloodied hand with gashes up to 5cm (2 inches) long. The doctor who treated the girl told the news website that she may need surgery if her hand did not heal well.

A spokesman for the Guizhou Provincial People’s Hospital told the South China Morning Post the doctor who had treated the girl was not available for comment on Friday.

Her mother, surnamed Wang, told Pear Video in an interview that Xiao Li had not put her hand in the tank. “She did lean against the aquarium glass,” Wang says in the video. “But she didn’t reach into the water – the shark just jumped out of the water and attacked her.”

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But a sales manager at the mall claimed the little girl had put her hand into the tank.

“In our CCTV footage, the child is seen reaching into the water, which is why this has happened,” he says in the video. “If you don’t put your hand in the water, a shark wouldn’t normally jump out and attack.”

Xiao Li is seen in security footage leaning against the aquarium glass with her grandmother. People crowded around suddenly leap backwards as the shark attacks, but it is not clear from the footage whether she had put her hand in the tank.

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“We have warning signs in place around the aquarium and we broadcast messages too – there are even two supervisors around to remind people to be careful,” the sales manager says in the video.

The warning signs shown in the video read, “Do not reach into the water”, “Warm reminder to our dear customers: our aquarium has sharks, groupers, sea turtles and other types of aggressive of fish”, and “Parents, please take good care of your children”.

The sales manager said staff at the mall were constantly trying to keep visitors from getting too close to the aquarium, despite constant reminders.

Management at the mall said it had been in contact with Xiao Li’s parents about the incident.