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Freeing Captive Whales - Is It The Right Thing?

The majority of you realize that keeping large, wild animals in confined spaces for our amusement is the wrong thing to do. So lately we have tried to change our wrong-doings by releasing animals like killer whale Keiko (a.k.a. Free Willy,) back into the wild. The average life span of a Killer Whale is about 35 years. And that's for a whale that has been treated a lot better than Keiko. Keiko lived to be 27.

Freeing Keiko - Can We Fix Our Mistakes?

What's so bad about trying to right our wrongs? Well, Keiko had been in captivity since he was two. Marineworld in Ontario, Canada bought Keiko in 1980 when he was first captured off the coast of Iceland. Five years later he was sold to an amusement park in Mexico City where he spent the next ten years of his life. It was there that he starred in the Warner Brother's Free Willy films. But three years after the original film was made, Keiko was rescued by a marina in Oregon because he wasn't being properly cared for in Mexico.

Keiko's Return To the "Wild"

It was soon decided that Keiko should be released back into the wild, near where he was born. It would take many years of rehabilitation, a ton of money and manpower. Keiko was finally moved to a fjord off Iceland in 1998. Although he did venture out into the ocean on his own, Keiko has returned to the fjord, longing for human contact. He won't fish on his own and developed colds due to stress. Volunteers didn't want to feed Keiko, trying to force him to survive on his own but the whale just wouldn't hunt for himself.

Keiko Moves to the Big Ocean in the Sky

On December 13th, 2003 Keiko died of pneumonia in the coastal waters of Norway. He was burried in a private funeral on December 14th, 2003 on the banks of the Norwegian fjord where he had spent the last five years. Although this is a sad end to the story of Keiko, his handlers are quick to point out that at least Keiko had five years of freedom before he died. Unfortunately this is not the case for the dozens of other Orcas still held in captivity around the world.

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    How Many Whales In Captivity?

    • I think there are 10 orcas left in captivity.
    • There must be at least 35 around the world.
    • Is it about 48 killer whales?
    • I thought Keiko was the last one.

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