The story of Tilikum continues to generate interest both here at The HSUS and among our followers. Take a look at this new video with Naomi Rose, Ph.D., our lead scientist on marine mammal issues, as she talks about the release of Keiko, the orca featured in the movie “Free Willy,” and sets the record straight on what really happened to this remarkable whale. The accusation that Keiko died emaciated and starving has been featured in the media and on the Internet, but in fact Keiko thrived for five years in his natural habitat. It is our sincere hope that Tilikum can be similarly retired to a sea pen in Iceland or another suitable location.
Also, below are some reader comments on the issue.
I believe we all love to see the whales up close and personal but I feel it is in the best interest of the animals to live a free life in the ocean. It's sad lives have to be lost and people still don't get the message. —Lynn Coley
I agree with you 100 percent. No whales should have to do shows. I also agree that Tilly needs to be away from the people and put into a special place to live out the rest of his life, as well as the others. — Debbie Daniel
The whales are provided the best homes in the world and are protected from predators (human or animal). They are not treated poorly. … Go to Seaworld and see the true story. I am sure the folks there would love to tell you about their interactions with sea creatures and animals. My husband works there. We marvel at the wonderful things he sees every day. Don't quote research unless you see both sides first. I am just as concerned about our wild creatures on sea and land as anyone but let's show the world the whole story. —Donna
I do not believe in capturing whales or dolphins and keeping them in an aquarium type of social setting for society to have entertainment by their intelligence. That is why men made large boats, so we can see their talents within their own territory. We need to be consciously aware of the harming of these mammals. How would any human like it if a scientist or researcher removed you from your environment, siblings, parents, and friends just to perform remarkable intellectual, physical, and emotional acts to a paying audience … you do not even have your freedom to migrate wherever your heart desires because you are a slave to the audience. How unfair to do to any animal. Think about it people, if you want entertainment rent a boat and enjoy the day sailing the ocean to see God's creatures in a habitat environment. —Eydie Schultz
I live close to a SeaWorld that was closed years ago in Aurora, Ohio. I always attended the protests when the park opened for the summer. I was happy to see it close because of poor attendance. When they took the whales out, we all cheered, but it was short-lived knowing they were going to perform somewhere else. I don't attend circuses or any entertainment with animals. To SeaWorld, it's all about the money. —Nanette Schirmer
I completely agree that these poor animals need to be living in their natural habitats, NOT in tiny cages where they are forced to perform. The era of SeaWorlds, zoos, and circuses needs to come to an end! —Jenna Riedi