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It sounds silly, but it’s real—and deeply disturbing.
Warning: This article contains sexually explicit material.
Remember the YA book Island of the Blue Dolphins, a poignant bildungsroman about a young girl stranded on an island who befriends a family of dolphins, thus learning the power of love and self-sufficiency? Yeah, that’s totally not what the upcoming documentary Dolphin Lover is about.
Dolphin Lover tells the story of Malcolm Brenner, a 63-year-old man who came out as a “zoophile” in 1971, when he began a relationship with a dolphin at an aquatic theme park called Floridaland.
When we say that he began a relationship with this dolphin, we’re not talking about a cordial “let’s get together next time you’re in town” kind of thing.
No, it seems Brenner and this dolphin had full-on sexual intercourse—and now they want to tell the world their story in Dolphin Lover.
Here’s the trailer, which is SFW but probably not SFL:
Brenner ended up at Floridaland, which closed in 1971, after he got a job as a freelance photographer for the park. While there, he met Dolly, a female bottlenose dolphin with whom he claims to have fallen in love. As is usually the case with these types of encounters, Brenner claims that Dolly was the one who seduced him:
“I started rubbing her along her back, working my way to her flukes – her tail” he said.
“And as I was rubbing her and moving my hand towards her tail, Dolly was slowly rolling around her long axis.”
Yeah, nope. No, thank you.
Like most heated love affairs, Brenner’s relationship with Dolly has a tragic ending: She was moved shortly after the park closed, a mere nine months after Brenner started working there. She passed away in captivity a few months later, and Brenner attributes this to her being despondent over losing him. He believes that her death was a suicide and that Dolly had “voluntarily stopped breathing.”
Brenner is not the first person to go public with his zoophilia, or a sexual attraction to animals. Nor is he the first human to report having had a relationship with a dolphin: An animal researcher named Margaret Howe Lovatt, who was conducting an experiment on how to teach dolphins to speak, engaged in low-level frottage with a dolphin named Peter back in the 1960s. (There have also been reports of male dolphins taking unwilling human sex partners, attempting to gang-rape female snorkelers in the water.)
While Brenner’s story might seem like fodder for glib Flipper porno jokes, it has a very serious dimension. Although Brenner clearly viewed his encounter with Dolly as consensual, it obviously wasn’t, because dolphins do not possess the ability to consent.
Yet it’s this troubling aspect that Kareem Tabsch and Joey Daoud, the filmmakers behind Dolphin Lover, say is at the heart of the complex and fascinating relationship in their film.
“However uncomfortable it can be as a subject matter, what Malcolm experienced is unique and very real and very serious to him,” Tabsch told the Miami New Times. “He is a member of a community (zoophiles) who live on the outermost fringes of society. Their reality is something most of us can not comprehend, relate to or know much about- all of that makes it all the more appealing to me as a subject to tackle.”
H/T BroBible | Photo by Ste Elmore/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
EJ Dickson is a writer and editor who primarily covers sex, dating, and relationships, with a special focus on the intersection of intimacy and technology. She served as the Daily Dot’s IRL editor from January 2014 to July 2015. Her work has since appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mic, Bustle, Romper, and Men’s Health.