Freeing Willy, good or bad idea?
It’s been a long time since I wrote a good article. Most of my professional activity happens in the summer, making it hard for me to write or translate any article… Nevertheless, I had put one aside. It is an article written in last September by David Kirby, the author of Death At SeaWorld (see article from the 25/12/2013).
The article is about whether or not it was a good idea to release the orca Keiko, the star from the movie Free Willy.
>> article <<
At the end, I would like to know more about your point of view. What do you think about Keiko’s release and rehabilitation?
Personally, I think there are two sides to this story: Keiko’s and the other orcas’.
If we focus on Keiko, then yes, it was a success. Our beloved orca has had the immense privilege to swim back into his native waters with his fellow-orcas. Yes, he managed to feed and handle himself on his own towards the end of his rehabilitation. Yes his physical condition improved and he lived longer than most captive male orcas. After the success of the Free Willy trilogy, the least we could do was making sure the end of the movie really happened. This is what celebrity can do. “There are thousands of animals living in worse conditions than Keiko has. But they are not famous, so the public will not help.” (Susan Orlan, writer for The NewYorker).
However, if we look at this matter thinking about the other captive orcas, then it is a failure. This release and rehabilitation program was possible thanks to the support of millions of fans, and organizations. It was extremely expensive. I fear it cannot be renewed for other orcas (except maybe Morgan). Even if many orcas have widely deserved their “retirement” (such as Tilikum, Lolita, or Kshamenk), I am afraid this huge plan will never be done again.
I am with Dr Naomi Rose on this one: we have to stop exploiting captive orcas in exchange of food. We have to stop the breeding programs in place. We have to stop the trade of captured orcas. In few words: we have to let the tanks empty themselves little by little while taking care of the current orcas, and we must not fill the tanks again.
The time for captivity and animal exploitation for public entertainment is over.
It’s time owners of such places realize this.