[media-credit name="Connor Wells" align="alignnone" width="600"][/media-credit]
SAN DIEGO -- SeaWorld made waves last week when the organization announced it would be releasing one of its show dolphins, Velma, from its performance team. Sources inside the park said Velma was fired from the team after visitors complained about the dolphin's resting bitch face.
Velma, who was born and raised in captivity at the Manacine Bay Aquarium, was brought onto SeaWorld's main show team last month. Trainers were impressed by how quickly she took to instruction, her skill and her eagerness to learn. Despite her standout talent, audiences were taken aback by Velma's cold demeanor.
"Listen, when I come to these shows I am paying to be entertained," said Lewis Philter, who is a regular at the dolphin shows. "It's not just about the tricks, it's about the feeling of ecstacy I get watching the performers. It wouldn't kill her to smile a little."
Since Velma's firing, fans and activist groups have been protesting outside of SeaWorld's main entrance. Chloe Thompson, a sophomore at San Diego State, said that Velma's case represents a much larger issue.
"It is ridiculous to think society would disregard an animal because she won't smile," said Thompson. "If Winter hadn't been happy all the time, would they not have given her a new tail? Because 'Dolphin Tale' would have been a very different film."
While representatives from SeaWorld could not be reached for comment, a publicly released statement from the organization maintained that Velma's release was a result of complications with her contract and had nothing to do with her appearance. The statement went on to say that SeaWorld is still on amicable terms with Velma, and they wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors.
Velma's attorney, Jasper Renkin, told a very different tale of the unexpected termination.
"Our client was fired based on her refusal to comply with society's beauty standards," said Renkin. "It is egregious, and we will not rest until SeaWorld pays for their actions."
Members of the marine biology community acquainted with Velma's case are confused by the ordeal, stating that neither side of the argument has any basis in science.
"I'm confused by why this is an issue," said Rene Borgot, a professor of marine biology at the University of Maine. "Dolphins don't smile, nor do they have 'resting bitch face.' That is just their facial structure. Do people get that?"
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Updates on Velma and her case can be found at the dolphin's personal Twitter account, @restingbitchfish.