PBS Stands Behind Lie To The Public That Keiko Star Of Free Willy Who Lived 5 Years Free Died The First Year of Release


By Kirsten Massebeau

Keiko swims free on 2002 by the Orca NetworkIn their lopsided article entitled article, “In danger or endangered? Will world’s lonliest orca be released into the wild?” PBS discusses the release of Lolita the captive whale at the Miami Seaquarium and her possible release if she obtains endangered species status along with her family, still present in the Puget Sound L-Pod.

In this atricle PBS has made a huge blunder. In what looks like a pro-cap move the giant super station has contended that Keiko the star of “Free Willy” who was later released only lived one year in the wild promptly dying. Sadly PBS has not vetted their source or they do not want the world to know the truth as described in the documentary, “Keiko The Untold Story”.

Why PBS quoted Hari Sreenivasan, printing his lie obviously defending orca captivity is the question? “Keiko was the iconic killer whale that starred in the movie “Free Willy”. Keiko was released into the waters off Norway in 2002 but died alone a year later of pneumonia”.(source)

Apparently PBS would have preferred to see Keiko die in a tank truly alone far from the ocean. Howard Garrett Director of the Orca Network and expert on Lolita’s release and Keiko’s life was not included in the interview . Instead Pro-captivity Hari Sreenivasangot got the last word.

This is how PBS Ombsbudsman Marcia A. Apperson, Assistant Director PBS Ombudsman’s Office Responded to my question on their blatant lie:

Ms. Massebeau:
Several messages our office received about this report were forwarded to the PRODUCERS. Here is the response they sent:
Thank you for your comments. It is true that proposed plans to move Lolita, the killer whale, includes time for her to get re-acclimated into the wild before being released completely.  We addressed this briefly in the story. Here is that line: 
 
“That could lead to Lolita being re-acclimated over time and eventually released back into the waters off Seattle, where she was captured in 1970.”
 
It is also true Keiko, the iconic killer whale that starred in the movie “Free Willy,” also had time to acclimate to the wild.  A year after Keiko was fully released into the wild, Keiko died.  We understand there is a passionate debate around Keiko’s death and whether she was properly prepared for returning to the wild or if she died simply of natural causes.  In the future PBS NewsHour may have the opportunity to do an in-depth story about this important debate.
 Best,
Marcia Assistant Director, PBS Ombudsman’s Office
                         Please take action and demand PBS Correct their Story                                                                       to reflect the TRUTH!
                                     @Marcia A. Apperson on Twitter #PBS
                                         Call PBS Corrections and Complaints: 
                                                     703.998.2138
                                              Viewermail@newshour.org

5 thoughts on “PBS Stands Behind Lie To The Public That Keiko Star Of Free Willy Who Lived 5 Years Free Died The First Year of Release

  1. I would appreciate the true facts being stated by PBS. I would love to see Lolita happy and free with family before she leaves this world. She deserves this, even if it is only a year of her long prisoner life. The marine park can not take care of her like she deserves!

  2. Captive orcas (and dolphins), removed from the wild or captive bred, are one of the worst crimes ever committed in history. The only crime bigger was parading our youth by their holding ponds.

    On Facebook: Thank You Whales Central Coast

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