In the movie “Free Willy,” the whale is played by a 5-ton orca named Keiko. In the film, he escapes captivity and returns to the wild. When millions of children learned that the real Willy was confined to a shallow pool in Mexico, they started a campaign to free him. However, not everyone thinks this is a good idea?including Keiko. “This animal most probably will not be able to survive on its own if it’s not being taken care of by humans,” says whale expert Leif Nottestad.
In 1979, when Keiko was 2 years old, he was trapped off the coast of Iceland and sold to a marine amusement park in Mexico City for $350,000. The studio that made the film hired animal activist Dave Phillips to return Keiko to the wild.