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Free Willy Debate

photograph from Nature story

(before 2003)

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Keiko the whale is in an aquarium. He was in the movie "Free Willy." He has been in the aquarium almost two years. People do not know if he is healthy or not.

People at the aquarium think Keiko might be sick. He had an infection. He also had worms inside him.

The people who own Keiko say he is healthy. They say he has been checked. They say he has no infections. The government wants Keiko to have another medical checkup.

Keiko's owners would like to set him free. But they are not sure if he is ready. Can he see well? Can he talk with other whales? Will he be able to hunt?

Right now Keiko does not seem ready. He can not hunt. He eats frozen fish. He spends 15 hours a day with humans.

Some people think that Keiko can not be set free. He has not been in the ocean by himself. He needs humans too much. Gangs of young whales might attack him. Keiko's owners say they will not force him to be free if he is not ready.

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