INDEPENDENT NEWS

Free Willy 's Freedom: Another Urban Legend

Published: Thu 9 Nov 2000 03:19 PM
IWMC World Conservation Trust
Florida, USA. - Kieko, the killer whale with a Hollywood stage name of Free Willy, doesn't want to be free. That's a fact recently acknowledged by his handlers at the Ocean Futures organization. The futility of "freeing" Willy was a fact of biological life long echoed throughout the conservation community but totally ignored by Animal Rights groups behind the effort to return the aging orca to the wild.
"Now the world knows the truth about Willy. But, the larger question is where did the money sent to free Willy go?" asked Eugene Lapointe, president of IWMC-World Conservation Trust.
"For the past five or so years, literally tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars have been vacuumed from the public's pockets to perpetuate this newest urban legend of freeing Willy," said Eugene Lapointe. "We knew the effort to free Willy, or Kieko, was a myth when an unholy alliance of Hollywood and animal rights groups sprang it on the public years ago."
Now, however, it's time for all the groups raising money to "free" Willy to make a public accounting of the exact amount of funds raised for this half decade charade, according to Lapointe.
"Virtually every expert knew Willy would never be free. Certainly one might excuse the terminally naïve, but freeing Willy became a multi-million dollar marketing campaign. The lure of so much easy money coupled with the absence of even minimal dialogue about the possible consequences of such a venture strongly suggests a not-so-hidden agenda," said Lapointe.
"We call upon national and international authorities to open an investigation into the financial empire built around the myth of freeing Willy. Rather than an act of international kindness, freeing Willy appears to be a massive cash cow for animal rights groups that has now run dry. We want to know how much money was raised? How was it spent? The question that begs to be answered is this: was the Willy incident a simple mistake or an outright fraud?" said Lapointe.
-- IWMC World Conservation Trust Eugene Lapointe, President Former Secretary-General of CITES (1982-1990) 1127 King Arthur Court, Unit 303 Dunedin, Florida 34698, USA Tel/Fax: +1(727) 734-4949 Email: iwmc@iwmc.org www.iwmc.org

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