The Loneliest Killer Whale

By Elizabeth Skinner

No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Have you ever watched Free Willy? If not, let me summarize it for you. An orca named Willy was stolen from his family and taken to a marine park. He lived in a tank that was way too small for him, forced to perform in front of crowds. Eventually a teenage boy came along and freed him, back into the ocean, back with his family. Happily ever after, right? I know what you must be thinking – that’s a movie, what does this have to do with the real world? Well, art imitates life: the captive orca that played Willy, Kieko, had a very similar experience. He was taken from his family, forced to perform until enough people watched the movies, and guess what, he was released back into the wild! Crazy, right? Kieko got to live the rest of his life with his pod in the ocean. But what if this wasn’t the case for every orca out there?

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