Subject: Case Study: Free Willy??

Michael Williamson (whe_william)
Mon, 11 Jan 1996 17:09:44

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Date: Wed, 10 Jan 1996 20:34:22 -0500 (EST)
From: Michael Williamson <WHE_WILLIAM@FLO.ORG>
Subject: Case Study: Free Willy??
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From:	SMTP%"MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET"  9-JAN-1996 10:14:53.75
Subj:	Keiko Move Opportunity for Science
Date:         Mon, 8 Jan 1996 20:53:52 -0500
Reply-To:     Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
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Subject:      Keiko Move Opportunity for Science
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To:           Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
I am responding to postings by Serge Dedina, Stephen Leatherwood, William P.
(Bill) Russell and others regarding moving Keiko to Oregon.
There is no science to indicate that Keiko would not survive a return to the
wild.  The experiment has never been conducted.  For that alone, the
potential release of Keiko is an exciting prospect.
Since this is a first time study there are no "real" odds of Keiko being able
to locate his original family group. etc?  We know a fair amount about orca's
intelligence, social structure, language, communication abilities and memory
retention. We know that they are adaptable animals.  They survive in
isolation in cramped pools for years. They learn to perform on cue and to
change their natural diet.  Is science the study of odds or of knowledge?
Scientists may be in some danger of forgetting that life is a rather
mysterious and always precious commodity to those who possess it.  Although
we can and do argue the cost effectiveness of animal rescues, I believe that
the attention and money lavished on Keiko is well spent if it re-awakens a
spirit in people that whales, and other animals, are important.  The same
people who now respond to the plight of an isolated orca can learn about
other endangered cetaceans.  In this way, a whale release can be a part of
other conservation efforts. Isn't money spent on Keiko far more productive
than money spent at SeaWorld, which goes to enrich a corporate beer empire.
The politics of Iceland, like politics everywhere, are not frozen in ice.
 Many people in Iceland want an end to their war on whales. These people have
indicated that they would welcome returning orcas.
What seems to be true is that Keiko is living in Oregon at a well-funded
facility who's stated objective is to release him to the wild.  The
opportunities for new science surrounding the reintroduction of former
captive cetaceans promise to be  rewarding.  Perhaps some marmamers will want
to volunteer!
Bob Chorush
PAWS, Seattle