That's the delusion, built on the accidental smile.
"To be fair, they should have also had a bad dolphin: Zipper!"
But really, the dolphin is neither "ever so kind and gentle" (Flipper) or "surly" and "uncaring" (Zipper). It has its own ways.
Killer whales — like the one that killed Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld — are dolphins (the largest dolphins).
In starting to write this post, after that last one, my idea was to develop the theme of dolphin rape, but I got grossed out by many YouTube videos showing people at dolphin shows being set up — legs spread — to receive a dolphin, who — not understanding the lines human beings draw with respect to bodily interactions — leaps up and performs according to its own standards.
And, amongst dolphins, the standard is what we would classify as rape — gang rape:
In order to coerce the reluctant females, males form groups of two or three – often remaining together in their search for sexual gratification for well over a decade. When they find a suitable female they literally force her to mate with one or more of the group, and have even been known to herd their unwilling consorts for months at a time, basically using them as their personal sex-slaves.
Although dolphins are not alone in the animal world of gang-rapists, research suggests they’ve the perfected the art to a degree unseen in any other species, and it seems they don’t limit their advances to their female partners, either: there are several reports claiming divers and swimmers have also been accosted.
Studies would suggest the behaviour is likely to be undertaken for reasons of pleasure as much as reproduction, as dolphins are known to enjoy sexual activity in cases when reproduction would be physically impossibleIn real life, the dolphin is more Zipper than Flipper. Leave him to the ocean where he can do the things he wants to do — unless you think he's so smart he can be convinced to learn principles of human morality. I would be interested in hearing the dolphin's perspective. Perhaps there is complex dolphin reasoning about the sexual slavery of the female, but I have no interest in considering adopting it for human society.
Presumably, a dolphin who managed to learn our morality would find it repugnant — and he would argue for his position with reasons that would outrage us. Maybe if that learned dolphin were confined to an aquarium — where, like a human prisoner in solitary confinement with nothing to do but read — he might take advantage of his knowledge to create some structure of asceticism around his deprivation. Then it wouldn't be so painful. I'll leave it to you to imagine how that analogy works from the perspective of a human woman who had to live in a society controlled by dolphins.