Wow flopsy, must have been a long time since you were in Vancouver! The province has an agreement (passed in 1996) that no cetaceans caught (on purpose) from the wild will ever be exhibited there. The last orca they had died after being transferred to SeaWorld San Diego somewhere around 2001. A media circus ensued then too.
Currently there are only two dolphins, two belugas and some harbour porpoises, all rescued from things like fishing nets and deemed "unreturnable" to the wild. Some of them have amputated flippers or dorsal fins due to their injuries. And yes, you are correct that there have been dolphin and beluga "shows" but the animals are never asked to do things they wouldn't do in the wild (whereas with orca shows, at least until they stopped allowing trainers in the water, they do things like having people doing gymnastics on the animal's backs or jumping through hoops of fire or whatever). Furthermore, who is to say that asking an animal to do what it would do naturally doesn't relieve boredom/frustration for a creature who could not survive out there in the big bad ocean? Dolphins are NOT orcas and are more inclined to socialize with humans in general than killer whales ever would.
That being said, while the current Vancouver Aquarium is to be respected for the research and rescue (and beach cleanup) programs, I was more than happy to see the old Stanley Park Zoo close in the late 90's. I mean honestly, they had polar bear and black bears in the same enclosure (amongst other ridunkulous things). If anyone cares to know, the old polar bear compound has been "recycled". It's now a salmon hatchery.
The film (which I saw about a month ago) was intended to shock and incite and it certainly achieved that. SeaWorld (and their "contemporaries" past and present) are probably guilty of quite a number of things, one of them being "backwater breeders" (just like a puppy mill). Many otherwise well-meaning and respected aquariums have loaned them animals who have lost their mates only to find out that they were bred excessively. Mortality rate of orca calves in the wild is suspected to be somewhere around 40 or 50% (which is bad enough!). They only give birth approx. once every five years. A female orca does not breed until age 20 and goes into menopause around 40 (one of the few animals other than humans who live decades beyond fecundity ability), so generally the maximum number of calves per female is 5. So when you hear of animals having nine babies and they all died, what does that tell you? Knowing how familially attached these animals are, if I was one of those female orcas, I'd probably commit suicide. Some of them probably do, by either bashing their heads against the tanks or refusing food altogether.
It's all fine and dandy to buy into the "Free Willy" mindset. But the truth is, it's not quite as simple as just "letting them go". There are at least 4 different KINDS of killer whales (some marine biologists suggest they are actually different species genetically since they cannot find evidence of interbreeding through DNA). So firstly, assuming they even know which "pod" the whales came from, they would have to find that specific pod (good luck, orcas spend 95% of their time underwater lol). Three of the four "species" of orcas CANNOT SURVIVE on their own in the ocean without their pods. Is releasing them to certain death a better option? Furthermore, it is no small task to MOVE an orca. They weigh a LOT and most of them don't do well when transported.
I also watched the "panel discussion" following the televised movie. In my opinion, nobody on the panel was allowed enough time to appropriately address their "stand". It was unfair to all involved and not worth the watch, really (at least for me). I thought Jack Hanna was going to die of apoplexy during the discussion lol. I think I know what he was trying to get at, but he should have left SeaWorld out of his comments altogether.
And lastly (whew huh? lol) folks should never compare apples to oranges. Therefore, it isn't completely fair to try to compare accredited zoos/aquariums with mega-corps like SeaWorld, who from all appearances (and I've been to them) aren't all that interested in either research or education or the welfare of the animals (not just orcas).
Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense
- Gertrude Stein