Free Tilly Debate Vis-a-vis ‘Free Willy’ Fate

By David Schoetz

Mar 3, 2010 12:47pm

Wanted to pass along the segment embedded below from last night, in which Yunji de Nies looks at the controversy surrounding what to do with killer whale Tilikum. The stud whale claimed the life of trainer Dawn Brancheau, pictured above, a week ago, and it turns out it is not the Sea World animal's first fatal attack. But while animal activists, including from the Humane Society, are calling for the whale, nicknamed Tilly, to be released into the wild, some mammal experts are saying "not so fast," and they're pointing to the real life story of Keiko the orca, the killer whale who starred in "Free Willy." While in the the 1993 film, Willy escapes to the freedom of the open ocean and re-acclimates with the pod, in real life, Keiko's fate was far more grim. Schoolchildren raised millions in a campaign to free the animal, but life outside captivity never really worked and Keiko died of ill health. For now, the shows have resumed at the park and Tilikum will remain a part of SeaWorld's killer whale program.  

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