The Wolf of Gulf World: A Story of Lies, Sloths, Dolphins, Ellen, and Fraud

An Inside Investigation into Cierra Huffman, a former dolphin trainer-turned Tik Tok star who claims to be an advocate for animals when in reality, was trying to seek employment on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Before I get started, I just wanted to let you guys all know that when I began this investigation, I was a little conflicted over whether or not I should even write about what I am about to share with you all for the fear of retaliation, but as I continued investigating with a help from a few friends of mine and hearing concerns from the zoological community about what was going on, I felt that now was the time to expose the situation that I have been investigating for over a month now. So anyway, this is an investigation of a former dolphin trainer who became a Tik Tok star named Cierra Huffman.

Cierra Huffman is a Midwestern born Tik Tok star who once worked with marine mammals at Gulf World in Panama City, FL before going on to just focus on her rising internet stardom, which previously involved the dolphins and sea lions she often worked with. However, when she was let go from the facility, she pulled a Blackfish by making up stories about how the animals she once cared for were “abused” and “neglected” even though that was never really the case. This was coming from someone who had built an entire social media platform showing off these animals in order to get views and followers. Once she stopped working there and was no longer posting animal videos, not only were her young followers began to question why she was no longer posting animal videos, she began to make up stories as to why she left the facility in the first place.

At first, she claimed that she wanted to focus on others things like going on the “Ellen” show with the intention of working for Ellen herself, who just happens to be both an extreme animal rights activist and vegan who does not believe in the idea of patronizing zoos and aquariums that house cetaceans and other marine mammals in human care. Then, she began to claim that her reason for leaving was because the animals were being “abused” but not before claiming that she got fired for making Tik Tok videos while on the job. She would later admit to having to have been fired for refusing to have dyed her hair back to more natural color. It should also be noted that Ms.Huffman has a history of illegally recording her former co-workers during regular meetings.

While I am on the subject of Ms.Huffman’s newfound anti-zoo agenda, Cierra once told someone on one social media account how waterworks “hurt” dolphins when a month later, she entered a contest on Tik Tok in which she won and appeared on a billboard in New York. The video she used to enter this contest was of her doing waterwork behaviors with the dolphins during a show at Gulf World in which the animals were using their rostrums to throw her into the air. The same behavior she claimed caused “pain” to the animals. One must ask why would Cierra go on social media to claim that shows were “bad” for dolphins but promote it anyway through a contest? Well, the answer is this: she has a small following that has enabled her to gain some sort of fame. In fact, that fame has allowed her to work with a few brands like 4Ocean, Cracraz Art, Ivory Ella, Liquid ID, and TeeSpring. At one point, she was even working for the band Chain Smokers in which she gave out free tickets to people to attend their concerts and post videos on the band’s social media accounts. Her most recent fame-induced antic involved making a Tik Tok version of the ABC series The Bachelor with a little help from Peter Weber, the show’s current star.

Just when you think that Cierra’s quest for fame is not enough to throw people off the edge, her long history of fraud has raised a lot of eyebrows among members of the zoo community, including yours truly. In fact, her long history of fraudulent practices on social media sounds more like The Wolf of Wall Street than Gorillas in the Mist and Dolphin Tale combined. In late 2019, Cierra announced her plan to go to Costa Rica to volunteer at a sloth rehabilitation facility for a few weeks during the month of September of that same year. However, in order to raise money, Ms.Huffman made some hair ties in which she managed to sell to some of her followers. The money never went into the planned sloth conservation trip but when I managed to ask her what had happened to the money she managed to raise, she claimed that the whole thing flopped but still, she could have still gone to Costa Rica by taking out a vacation loan and work with a travel agent who could help her make the trip happen on a budget or at least make more sloth-themed creations like shirts, bags, or even jewelry. Instead, it all went into two failed attempts to get on the Ellen Show. One involved her sending a $159 bag of customized M&Ms candy with a message that asked Ellen herself to hire her while the other, involved her buying a ticket to Los Angelas where she would show up at the Warner Brothers Studios in hopes to land a job with Ellen before being escorted off by security.

But, that would not be the last known incident where she would lie about raising money to help animals. Right after she was fired, Cierra went on Tik Tok during a live stream and asked people to send her “gifts”, which is actually real money, so that she could buy the dolphins toys while pretending that she was still working at the facility and was even wearing her work uniform. When the training staff at Gulf Work was asked about Cierra’s fundraiser for new environmental enrichment devices for the dolphins, not only did they revealed that she was fired two weeks prior to the fundraiser, but also, they never received a single penny, nor a single toy from her at all. She also did something similar with a hurricane relief effort as well.

Now, Cierra uses her social media accounts to slander the facility and defame her former co-workers by making false allegations and manipulating situations by posting videos and photos of habitats and enclosures that she claims don’t meet USDA regulations even though she once claimed that there were no such regulations for marine mammals as stated in a petition she created to demand such regulations to be made. It is almost like she knows little-to-nothing about the USDA or regulations that are already put in place to care for marine animals in zoological settings. Yet, she continues to post about nonexisting abuse and neglect even though all of Ms.Huffman’s photos and videos were taken right after a hurricane hit the Panama Beach area that she was actually there for. It is almost like she had no issue with Gulf World, even after she was fired until her followers began to question why she was no longer posting any videos of the animals on Tik Tok. It’s possible that it might be another ploy to get on Ellen because all other attempts have failed in the past so, the only way that she might have a chance to get on the show would be to pull on the public’s heartstrings like that of Ellen, who does not like the idea of keeping animals in zoological settings by creating an elaborant story that is worthy of celebrity attention.

It has also turned out that Ms.Huffman does have a history of abusing animals under her care herself as revealed in a video posted by Facebook by big cat handler, and a dear friend of mine, Felicia Friscia. During her years working as a traveling sea lion trainer, Cierra would have her toy Australian shepherd locked up in a cage in her trailer for long periods of time and would not provide the dog a bowl of clean water whenever it was thirsty. There were instants where trainers would go into the trailer and the animal either had no water, no food, or if they did, it would be completely disgusting.

Not long ago, Cierra revealed in what turned out to be another lie, that she got a job that involved working with elephants and help them. While we can all question why she is continuing to lie to her young followers, we can all agree that she is trying to jeopardize the reputation of an accredited facility in the name of attention. She had no issue when she was working at the facility and now, after all this time, she decided that she was going to come forward and raise money on GoFundMe (I kid you not!) to hire a lawyer. If she truly cared about animals being abused or neglected, she would have come out way back when she was still working, but she did not.

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Jenna Deedy
Jenna Deedy
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Jenna Deedy

USA Aspiring marine mammal trainer who loves all animals and a Rivier University Graduate who holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology. Support my work at

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