Subject: Keiko's pool gets clean bill o (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Fri, 17 Oct 1997 13:41:33 -0400 (EDT)

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Date: Wed, 15 Oct 97 12:13:00 GMT 
Subject: Keiko's pool gets clean bill o

Keiko's pool gets clean bill of health

   NEWPORT, Ore., Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Officials say the U.S. Department of
Agriculture has given a clean bill of health to the Oregon
rehabilitation program and facility for Keiko, the killer whale featured
in the movie "Free Willy."
   The Free Willy Keiko Foundation says it received the report today
from federal inspectors, who performed a surprise inspection last week
of Keiko's facilities at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Ore.
   The inspectors closely observed the killer whale, examined its
medical and food records, as well as algae growth in its pool.
   The surprise visit came as aquarium officials are locked in a bitter
battle with the foundation over the orca's health and welfare.
   The aquarium has maintained that Keiko is too sick to be released
into the wild, while the foundation says he's in good health and will be
relocated to a bay pen in the North Atlantic within the next 12 to 24
   Aquarium officials deny that their concerns are linked to a potential
economic loss that will be felt when Keiko leaves. They say they have
always assumed he was a visitor, not a permanent exhibit.
   The orca has lived at the aquarium since January 1996, but is cared
for by the foundation, which owns him.
   Keiko was moved from the Reino Aventura amusement park in Mexico
because of concerns about his health.
   Keiko had the starring role in the first "Free Willy" movie, but
did not appear in either of the two sequels, which used animatronic
killer whales and footage of orcas in the wild.