The signs along the docks in Richmond, British Columbia say not to feed the sea lions.
When a young girl and her family were doing just that on Saturday, they learned firsthand why the warnings were there.
They had been tossing bread to a giant sea lion. It had already lunged toward the child once — prompting giggles from her and others nearby.
But as she turned her back to the creature to sit on the dock’s edge, it suddenly leaped out of the water, grabbed her dress from behind and pulled her into the bay.
An apparent stranger, who remains unidentified, immediately jumped into the water — pulling the child out only moments later.
Though obviously shaken, no one seemed harmed in the video captured by a bystander. The girl is lucky the creature let go so quickly, since they are capable of diving deep lengths underwater and holding their breath for up to ten minutes.
“You wouldn’t go up to a grizzly bear in the bush and hand him a ham sandwich, so you shouldn’t be handing a thousand-pound wild mammal in the water slices of bread,” Robert Kiesman, the Steveston Harbour Authority chairman, said on CBC News.
Social media users quickly blamed the girl’s parents in a Harambe-like torrent of Twitter insults.
And officials echoed the sentiment.
“My first reaction to the video is just how stupid some people can be to not treat wildlife with proper respect,” Andrew Tites, director of the University of British Columbia’s Marine Mammal Research Unit, said.
Sea lions “are not circus performers,” he added. “They’re not trained to be next to people.”
“While we appreciate that seeing wildlife can be exciting, we stress that feeding wildlife is both illegal and dangerous!” a statement from harbor authorities said.
“Also, keep in mind that feeding wildlife can also be extremely detrimental to the animals themselves, as they may learn to associate humans with an easy source of food, which can lead to them not being able to successfully secure food in the wild.”
The family hurried away from the scene immediately after the child was rescued — leaving one oddly unfazed woman to say what we’re all thinking: “Wow.”