The U.S. Department of Agriculture, with the support of the Free Willy Keiko Foundation, has formed an expert panel to independently review the health of Keiko but not to evaluate him as a possible candidate for release into the wild. As Whales Alive! goes to press the conflict over the future of Keiko, star of the "Free Willy" movies, may fall victim to the power of money. The Oregon Coast Aquarium had decided that the whale is not making progress towards the original goal of releasing Keiko to the wild. The Free Willy Keiko Foundation contends that progress is being made, and is beginning the release planning in earnest. The transparent reasons behind the conflict included a massive influx of money from tourists and marketing to the local area, with the aquarium reaping considerable profit. The panel is expected to have completed its evaluation by mid-January. The panel members will not discuss the study nor the results until after the results are released.
© Copyright 1998, Cetacean Society International, Inc.
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