The Keiko Project

Robert Mendez is the producer and director of the Keiko Project, a documentary film currently in production that tells the full story of the real killer whale (Keiko) who starred in the block buster hit movie Free Willy. We discuss Keiko’s capture in Iceland, his years of suffering in the deplorable conditions of a marine park in Mexico, and his eventual return to the wild. We also touch on the controversy surrounding Keiko’s return to the wild, including skepticism from the scientific community and opposition from the billion-dollar captive dolphin industry. Robert has interviewed many of the trainers who rehabilitated Keiko from a sick and abused circus performer, to a healthy adult male Orca capable of traveling a hundred kilometers a day in the open ocean. We also discuss the forced rushed return to the wild because of a demolition project under way near Keiko’s sanctuary in Iceland, and how Keiko’s death from pneumonia in Norway is often misrepresented as evidence for the continued captivity of Orcas in marine parks.  The implications of Keiko’s story are incredibly relevant today, as the public has become aware of the massive suffering these intelligent and sentient animals experience in concrete tanks, and the fight to transfer the remaining captive Orcas in the United States to seaside sanctuaries is under way. Follow the Keiko project through their website and social media to support and stay up to date on the film.

Links to topics discussed in episode:

Footage from the movie Freewilly of the actual tank Keiko spent most of his life in

Keiko in Oregon

Keiko in Iceland

Keiko in the wild

Keiko’s death

Why Orcas suffer in captivity

How you can help

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