Animal rights activist shows Blackfish documentary to dolphin in hopes of recruitment

Illustration by Cara Seccafien
Illustration by Cara Seccafien

Dolphin uses large brain to see both sides of story

By Klara Woldenga, Humour Editor

Despite the Vancouver Aquarium’s attempts to keep the controversial documentary Blackfish from their Pacific white-sided dolphin Helen, a recent press release revealed that the famous aquatic mammal has recently been shown the film.

“We tried so hard,” said Vancovuer marine biologist, Cindy Allen. “But we should have known it was only a matter of time before our dolphin learned the truth.”

According to reports, a local animal activist, later identified as Eric Chapman, entered the aquarium on the morning of February 6 with a portable DVD player and a copy of Blackfish, the 2013 American documentary about Tilikum, a killer whale being held captive in SeaWorld. Although the documentary focuses on the story of SeaWorld’s questionable treatment of Tilikum, viewers have used this movie as a platform to discuss the issues and ethics of keeping animals in other aquariums and zoos.

Once at Helen’s tank, Chapman proceeded to get the dolphin’s attention and play the entire documentary for her, with English subtitles. According to reports, there was no active security during the incident, because seriously, who goes to the aquarium at 10 a.m. on a weekday? Chapman was able to show Helen the entire movie just before he was discovered.

To Cindy Allen’s horror, the dolphin started acting erratically immediately after viewing the film. Once the film was over, Helen began swimming in small inconsistent circles and using her echolocation to bother animals in the other tanks—something Helen had been previously asked not to do. Helen then began attempting to escape by ramming into her tank and trying to break the glass.

“I didn’t know what to do!” said Allen. “I tried offering Helen more fish, and even debated about bargaining her cooperation with the promise of a small child to eat—I would never have given it to her, of course. No, no, no.”

Allen continued to laugh nervously for two minutes after giving this statement.

Thankfully for the Vancouver Aquarium (and the small children touring it), Helen’s rampage ended very quickly. After only five minutes of attempting to break the glass, the dolphin calmed down, stopped her erratic actions, and has not acted out since. The Other Press was able to get an exclusive interview with Helen the dolphin to discuss her thoughts.

“Well, at first I was super pissed,” said Helen. “I just wanted to attack everyone, especially those small children I always think about, but then I used my brain and simply calmed down.”

According to Helen, the dolphin’s brain is the second most powerful and complex brain in any animal, with the human brain being the first.

“Knowing this about my brain gives me a lot of pride,” she told the Other Press. “It reminds me that I should use my brain to its full potential by knowing my own biases and logical fallacies, while remembering that there are always two sides to every story.”

After thinking about the film, Helen did her own research, learning that some enclosure animals are rescues and are kept there in the hopes of being rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Helen told the Other Press that “SeaWorld is one example of poor management of animals in captivity. I don’t condone cruelty to animals, but we should not assume every organization holds the same practices, and instead be open to both perspectives.”

Upon hearing Helen’s statements, Chapman returned to the Vancouver Aquarium in hopes of convincing the dolphin to see his side of things.

“I can’t believe Helen isn’t angry!” Chapman told reporters. “She should be unilaterally outraged at every institution that keeps large mammals and demand they stop holding them, or else!”

He then stormed off, promising to return with protesters.

Later that week, Helen agreed to meet with Chapman again, but five minutes into their next discussion she refused to say anything more, as he had begun totally straw-manning her argument. After he stormed off yet again, Helen publicly stated that she would like to meet with Chapman a third time, as she wants to keep an open mind.

“I really want to see his point of view as he may have facts and thoughts I have not considered,” she told reporters, before adding that she knows “Chapman’s actions do not represent all animal rights activists,” and will continue discussions if he agrees to hear her side of the story and “starts really using that big brain of his.”