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Keiko Will Remain Free

October 7, 2002


Animal Rights Foundation of Florida Praises U.S. and Norwegian Governments For blocking Seaquarium's Attempt to De-Free Willy Miami, FL - The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, along with The Orca Network, today praised the National Marine Fisheries Service and the government of Norway for blocking an attempt by Miami's Seaquarium to capture Keiko, the world-famous orca from the film "Free Willy," to place him on display at the Seaquarium.

In 1994, children worldwide donated millions of dollars to free Keiko from his horrendous conditions in a Mexican theme park, and return him to his native waters. In 1998, Keiko was brought to Iceland, and the rehabilitation effort has finally reached fruition. Keiko is swimming freely between Iceland and Norway, finding his own food and thriving, proving that Lolita, the orca held at Seaquariu, could also be released to the waters she was captured from near Washington state, where her family still lives.

To put the brakes on efforts to release Lolita, Seaquarium submitted a shocking proposal to the National Marine Fisheries Service in September: they sought to recapture Keiko and place him on display in Miami. The tank Seaquarium intended to put Keiko in, with Lolita, has already been condemned by whale experts throughout the world. Seaquarium's tank is the smallest in the nation, and some USDA inspectors have questioned its legality. "Seaquarium essentially admitted its deficiencies last year," said Mike Winikoff, Director of Communications for the Animal Rights Foundation, "when they promised to build Lolita a new, larger tank - a promise that remains unfulfilled. Now they want to pack a second orca into the fish bowl that is far too small for even one." Twenty-eight environmental and animal rights organizations last week released a statement opposing Seaquarium's plan.

Keiko is thriving in Norway's waters, and capturing him would be a big step backward, Norwegian Ambassador Knut Volleback wrote in a Sept. 24 letter to Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., who had forwarded the park's initial request to Norwegian officials. "In principle we are skeptical to keeping huge animals like whales in captivity," Volleback wrote. Volleback also said, "we regard is as problematic in a animal welfare perspective to send the whale on the long voyage from Norway to Florida. At the moment, the whale has a freedom that makes it possible for him to make choices. He is not in conditions that will stress him."

In a editorial entitled "Keiko, Stay Away From That Miami Vise," the Seattle Times stated: "Miami Seaquarium's proposal to 'rescue' a famous orca from Norwegian waters is wrong. ... Keiko has come so far from his days of sickness in a Mexican aquarium ... Keiko has earned his freedom ... if Seaquarium really wants to help, it should send a donation to the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation." and, adds the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, Seaquarium could help by considering a release of Lolita.


Join activists from across the country outside the Seaquarium in 70's attire to symbolize how nothing has improved in Lolita s ill-fated life since her kidnap decades ago. Get out your bellbottoms and tie-dyed shirts or stop by your local thrift store or costume shop for plenty of reasonably-priced 70's apparel to sport outside the Seaquarium!
Date: — August 8, 2002
Time: — Noon to 2pm
Place: — Miami Seaquarium
From the North: I-95 to Exit 1 (Rickenbacker Cswy.). Follow Causeway and the Miami Seaquarium will be on the left.
From the South: Take US 1 to Rickenbacker Cswy. Follow Causeway and the Miami Seaquarium will be on the left.
Park either in lot just before or just after Seaquarium.
For over thirty years, citizens have pleaded with the Miami Seaquarium to free Lolita, an orca viciously captured from her family in the Pacific Northwest in 1970. Despite 20 years of promises to build Lolita a new, larger tank, the Seaquarium and its owner, Arthur Hertz, have refused to improve conditions for the whale.

For over 30 years Lolita has remained in the same shallow fish bowl. It's the smallest and oldest orca tank in the U.S. Last year, the Seaquarium once again promised to build Lolita a new tank. That, too, has been exposed as a lie.

If you cannot attend, you can still help tremendously by boycotting the Seaquarium and any other organization that depends on animal cruelty for entertainment.

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