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Tyra Banks has made a career of being unafraid to try new things. But though the TV celebrity has gained success and popularity in large part thanks to her unshakable confidence, there’s one animal that scares her: the dolphin. 

You might think dolphins are friendly sea mammals, but don’t tell that to Banks. She has a serious fear of them, and she went to great lengths to address it. Let’s take a closer look at her career, her dolphin phobia, and how she faced it. 

Tyra Banks has had a long career marked by fearlessness

In this screengrab released on April 10, Tyra Banks speaks at the 25th-annual Art Directors Guild Awards streamed on April 10, 2021
Do not mention dolphins to Tyra Banks | Art Directors Guild/via Getty Images

Tyra Banks’ résumé has it all. According to Biography, she started as a model who became an uber-successful supermodel. Banks made regular appearances for Victoria’s Secret and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue: two of the most coveted spots for models. Banks has also acted. She made a guest appearance on an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She also had a major role in the film Higher Learning. 

She’s also been a TV personality, hosting her own talk show and a popular reality show. Banks hosted her own daytime program, The Tyra Show. She later hosted America’s Next Top Model and America’s Got Talent.

Banks is a true renaissance woman unafraid to try anything. So why is it that someone so fearless is so afraid of an animal that most people find adorable and friendly? 

Tyra Banks’ odd fear of dolphins

Banks admitted on her talk show that she had a serious fear of dolphins. According to People, just the thought of one can make her feel uneasy: 

“You think a dolphin is sweet and friendly — to me, they’re not … I feel anxiety and I feel panic whenever I’m confronting or even thinking about or talking about a dolphin. It’s happening right now.”

Tyra Banks, People

Although the fear of this otherwise seemingly friendly creature is rare, this phobia has a name. According to, a fear of dolphins is known as delfiniphobia. Symptoms include an increased heartbeat, hot or cold chills, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, chest pain, or even a feeling of slight nausea or “butterflies” in their stomach. 

Even the mere mention of the creature was enough to cause problems for Banks. So how did she face her fear of dolphins? 

How Tyra Banks confronted her dolphin phobia


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Online Psychology reported that Banks’ fear began when she was only 8 years old. She stated she had recurring dreams in which she swims in a pool, encountering numerous dolphins who continually bump into her. Even for someone like Banks, who rarely sees dolphins in her day-to-day life, fears like these can manifest in her thoughts or whenever she sees or hears the mention of a dolphin. That can cause emotional stress even if she’s far from a body of water. 

According to E! Online, Banks did a segment on her show where she confronted her fear of dolphins. Her ordeal involved a lot of crying, and though she was able to make progress, Banks said she didn’t completely overcome her phobia: 

“The fear is not over. I’ve gotten a little past it, but there is something that still lives inside me.”

Tyra Banks

Though Tyra Banks hasn’t eliminated her fear of dolphins, we commend her for making a concerted effort to face it. Debilitating fears might seem confusing to those who don’t experience them, but to those who are, they are no joke.