dr larry cornell
He is Keiko's veterinarian and a former vice president for Sea World where he worked from 1973-87.  He has pioneered preventive care for cetaceans in captivity.



GIVE ME A PICTURE OF KEIKO'S PRESENT HEALTH CONDITION.

Well, his present health condition is really pretty good. As you can see with him swimming around and very active back there, he's not at all lethargic or ill-looking and he's not on any medication at this time.

GIVE ME SOME COMPARISON BETWEEN THE CONDITION OF -- OF THE ANIMAL NOW COMPARED TO WHAT YOU FOUND IN MEXICO WHEN HE WAS TAKEN ---

Oh, my gosh, it's -- there's -- I mean, there isn't any comparison. This is a totally different whale than we found in Mexico. Three years ago when I went to Mexico, we had an animal that was probably more than two thousand pounds underweight. He was uhm, stunted -- his growth was stunted. He was basically lethargic,almost partially immobile at times. An animal really cap -- -- he could not dive to the bottom of the pool and hold his breath for more than three minutesand come up to the top gasping for air. It was a very dramatic thing. Now, with all the physical conditioning that he's had and all the -- the effort that's gone into -- to his physical conditioning and his training, he can dive to the bottom of the pool now and hold his breath for more than sixteen minutes. That's -- that's probably equal to almost any whale in the world.

HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THE FACT THAT HE ACTUALLY SURVIVED THOSE CONDITIONS FOR SO LONG, CONSIDERING THE HIGH MORTALITY OF ANIMALS, WILD ANIMALS IN CAPTIVITY?

He's very tough, isn't he?

IS HE GOING TO BE TOUGH ENOUGH TO SURVIVE THE NORTH ATLANTIC?

I would say if he was tough enough to survive all those years under the conditions that he was in under there, his will to survive is very strong and I think that -- my personal opinion is that he has a very good opportunity to survive.

HOW DO YOU PROPOSE OR HOW DOES THE ORGANIZATION PROPOSE TO GET AROUND THE SEEMINGLY INFRACTIBLE OPPOSITION OF ICELAND TO RELEASING HIM IN THEIR NATIONAL WATERS?

Well, we haven't gone over there and spoken with them and showed them the data nor gotten the scientific research all completed that that we can give to them to show that he's capable of living in the wild. And so, to me, that's not an issue yet,until we get that done.

WELL, THEY CLAIM THAT THE TILLIKUM CASE PROVIDES A PRECEDENT FOR REFUSAL AND IT JUST SEEMS TO ME THAT YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE ONE BIG HURDLE TO GET OVER BEFORE YOU GET ANYWHERE CLOSE TO THAT.

Well, getting him out of Mexico was a giant hurdle, getting him well was a giant hurdle. We're used to giant hurdles.

WHAT ABOUT THE MAJOR HURDLE OF SURVIVAL? A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY THAT KEIKO WOULD LAST MAYBE A MATTER OF HOURS AMONG HIS PEERS AND RELATIVES AND OLD FRIENDS IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC--THEY'D EAT HIM UP.

You know, the survival rate of killer whales in the wild -- is probably -- they probably have a normal mortality rate somewhere between fifteen and twenty-five per cent a year. Any group of animals that you want to study for a long period of time, the young-- the young have a very high death rate and the older animals have a slower death rate. -- this is true of not only killer whales, but dolphins and pilot whales and other kinds of animals. In 1967, I released -- from Marineland in the Pacific, I released a pilot whale that was twenty feet long. It had been in captivity for many years. In March of 1976, he was photographed again off of Catalina. He had grown to 24 feet in length.

KEIKO DOESN'T LIKE LIVE FISH, HE DOESN'T LIKE FOOD THAT SWIMS.

Well, -- actually, he does now. He's eaten live fish in this pool and, as a matter of fact, he has parasites roaming his body today as a result of eating that live fish. So we know that he's been eating live fish in large quantities, not just small quantities.

YOU'RE A MAN WHO'S SORT OF ASSOCIATED WITH CAPTURING OF WHALES, WITH LOOKING AFTER CAPTURED ANIMALS FROM THE WILD IN CAPTIVITY OVER THE YEARS. NOW, YOU'RE INTIMATELY ASSOCIATED WITH THIS MOVEMENT TO SEND THIS PARTICULAR WHALE AND, PRESUMABLY, ALL OF THEM BACK INTO THE WILD IS THAT JUST IRONIC OR -- OR HAS THERE BEEN A CONVERSION?

Oh, I don't think there's any conversion. I don't think it's ironic at all. I think it's what I do. I'm a veterinarian. My life has been dedicated from the beginning of working with these animals in -- first in captive situations, to seeing to it that they have proper facilities, that they had large enough facilities for them to -- to swim in, that they were able to reproduce in captivity, that their life was -- is close to normal as we can possibly make it in a captive environment. And having Keiko return to the wild, to me, is -- if he's given the opportunity -- is simply a matter of carrying out that same dedication to the animal's welfare. If that's what is good for the animal in this particular case, then I think that I -- I have no problem with that. I don't see any conflict at all. This is -- this is my job.

WHAT WAS THE REASONING BEHIND THE INITIAL MOVE TO A PLACE LIKE THE NORTH ATLANTIC, TO ICELAND, TO GET ANIMALS FOR -- FOR MARINE PARKS IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Well, I don't know really-- that the North Atlantic was chosen by us as much as it chose us, you know. I think that you go in a situation to acquire animals -- for zoos wherever the animals are. Whether it be Africa or South America or the -- the North Pole or the South Pole, that's where you go.

BUT THERE WERE LOTS OF THEM IN THE NORTHWEST OF NORTH AMERICA AND THERE WERE LOTS OF THEM IN THE PACIFIC. WHY WOULD...?

They also exist in the Antarctic and the Arctic, you know. It just happens to be that Iceland was the area of choice for the period.

WHAT IMPACT OR WHAT EFFECT DID IT HAVE THAT THERE WERE CHANGES UNDER WAY IN THE MARINE MAMMAL PROTECTION ACT, THAT THERE WAS A POSSIBILITY THAT THE WINDOW MIGHT BE GETTING NARROWER FOR BRINGING MARINE MAMMALS INTO MARINE PARKS IN THE UNITED STATES?

Well, I think in that regard, the Marine Mammal Protection Act had been in effect since 1973. My dedication to the animals' reproduction in captivity was based on the fact that I did not really want to see animals taken from the wild forever for any marine park and I think that that proved to be a very valid point. We bred killer whales successfully at Sea World for the first time in the history of man under my direction.

CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG -- DIDN'T THE LAW MAKE IT RATHER AWKWARD OR DIFFICULT FOR YOU AS PARKS TO TAKE ANIMALS FROM THE WILD STRAIGHT INTO THE PARKS? I MEAN ---

Oh, no. Not at all. All you had to do was have a permit to do that.

BUT YOU WOULDN'T GET THE PERMIT UNLESS THE ANIMAL WAS COMING FROM APPROPRIATE CAPTIVE CIRCUMSTANCES AND PRESUMABLY ---

Ah, I'm not sure I follow where you're going there.

I MEAN, YOU DON'T GET PERMITS JUST WILLY-NILLY.

No. It takes a great deal of effort to apply for a permit for any animal from the wild. Whether it's a killer whale or a dolphin or a -- a pilot whale or whatever it is, you have to go through the same process. It doesn't matter what kind of an animal it is. The National Fisheries Service has a standard set up for the acquisition of animals, the capture of animals. Whether it's for scientific research or whether it's for public display, it's the same, it's very difficult. You have to have very high standards and you have to have a very high level of staff capability and you have to have the right pools, you have to be approved by the United States Department of Agriculture and you have to comply with a number of different laws, so it's not really something that you do willy-nilly at all. It's a very long, drawn-out, dedicated process that's handled by attorneys and permit offices.

BUT WHAT ARRANGEMENTS WOULD YOU MAKE NORMALLY TO SORT OF STORE AN ANIMAL DURING THE PROCESS OF THE RED TAPE AND THE BUREAUCRATIC PERMIT?

I don't know that I ever went through the process of storing an animal for the purposes of red tape or bureaucracy. I'm not aware of that really being an effort that I had anything to do -- that, you know.

SO YOU CAN TELL ME, STRAIGHT OUT THAT IT WAS A SIMPLE MATTER OF GOING THERE, GETTING AN ANIMAL, PERMITTING IT AND BRINGING IT TO THE PARK IN QUESTION IN THE UNITED STATES?

...I said it's not simple at all. It's a very complex process and it took a lot of -- it took a lot of lawyers to get the job done and a lot of -- a lot of dedicated staff and a lot of documentation on capability and -- and so forth. It's a very complex process. What I would refer you to is to the National Fisheries Service and talk to them about how to go about getting a permit because that's -- that's who you need to -- to discuss it with.

I ALSO HAVE HEARD THAT THERE WERE DEVICES LIKE BREEDING -- LOAN ARRANGEMENTS AND BREEDING ARRANGEMENTS THAT SERVED AS LOOPHOLES -- I MEAN, TO USE A PEJORATIVE ---

There's no loopholes. If you want to import an animal into the United States for whatever reason, whether it's breeding activity or whatever -- and indeed, we were involved in breeding activity for many years at lots of marine parks in the United States -- if you want to import an animal for any of those purposes that happens to be a marine mammal, you have to go through the same permit process. There's no loophole.

BUT ISN'T IT CONCEIVABLE THAT YOU MAY HAVE TO LEAVE AN ANIMAL IN ANOTHER JURISDICTION FOR A WHILE IN ORDER TO ENABLE THAT TO HAPPEN?

I don't think so. Why would you do that? I mean, the animals are already in a facility somewhere. If you...wanted to get a permit to import them, just go get the permit to import them. Go through the process. You know, you're going -- you're trying to dig something out here that doesn't exist.

NO, I'M NOT TRYING TO DIG SOMETHING UP. I'M TRYING TO GET CLARIFICATION FOR CERTAIN SITUATIONS THAT HAVE BEEN DESCRIBED BY PEOPLE WHO ARE FAMILIAR WITH IT.

Well then, you ought to go talk to them because --if they -- if they're involved in it, then -- then you ought to be -- go talk to them because I'm not involved in it

I'LL BE SPECIFIC WITH YOU. THERE'S A MR. GUNNARSSON IN ICELAND WHO TOLD US THAT THERE WAS ACTUALLY A COMPANY CREATED, A COMPANY THAT SORT OF HAD INTERNATIONAL LEGAL STATUS, THAT LOOKED AFTER ANIMALS -- AND THIS IS OBVIOUSLY QUITE LEGAL -- LOOKED AFTER ANIMALS PENDING THE POSSIBILITY OF IMPORTING THEM TO THE UNITED STATES.

Ah, there probably still exist companies that acquire animals for that purpose. They sell animals to zoos all over the world. There are a number of them that are in business. What you should do is contact the American Zoological Association and get the list of their commercial suppliers from them because they -- those are the people that you're talking about.

WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT A COMPANY WITH WHICH YOU AND MR. GOLDSBERRY WERE SUPPOSEDLY ---

There was no company that Mr. Goldsberry and I were involved with and if you -- you know, if you want to talk to any -- speak to any issues regarding Sea World or anything that happened at Sea World, then you should call Sea World.

I'VE TALKED TO SEA WORLD.

There you go, you got the answer.

WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT A COMPANY CALLED NAMOO LIMITED?

Never heard of it.

YOU NEVER HEARD OF IT? WELL, I'D LIKE TO ASK SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT THE GUDRUN TRANSACTION, WHICH SEEMS TO SORT OF LEAD TO A LOT OF SPECULATION ABOUT JUST HOW BUSINESS IS DONE IN THE MARINE MAMMAL FIELD. YOU KNOW THE STORY, GUDRUN WAS A WHALE IN HOLLAND.

A killer whale in Holland. That was a SeaWorld transaction and what I would suggest you do is call Sea World and talk to them about it because I --

I DID.

-- I'm not going to comment on anything that happened at Sea World that's -- I'm not with Sea World.

WELL, SEA WORLD HAS BASICALLY INDICATED TO US THAT IT WAS YOUR PROJECT, THAT YOU BASICALLY QUARTERBACKED THE GUNDRUN TRANSACTION.

Well, then you should talk to Sea World about that. If they have that information ---

WELL, I DID. AND THEY SAID WE SHOULD TALK TO DR. CORNELL.

Well, you should talk to Sea World about it because that's a Sea World transaction so -- I'm not going to comment on anything that has to do with Sea World. I'm not in a position to do that.

WELL, IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THEY'VE THROWN THE-- OR LATERALLED THE BALL OFF TO YOU.

Well, why don't you -- why don't you have them write me a letter that says if they want me to discuss that issue with you, then I'll do that.

WELL, I WOULD LIKE TO GET SOME KIND -- OF AN ANSWER TO A VERY -- A VERY SIMPLE QUESTION. HOW SEA WORLD LED BY YOUR INITIATIVE MOVED A WHALE FROM HOLLAND TO THE UNITED STATES ON THE BASIS OF A TRANSACTION INVOLVING PSEUDORCAS FROM JAPAN. HOW DID THAT ALL COME TOGETHER?

As I said, you need to talk to Sea World about anything that happened at Sea World. That's Sea World business, not mine.

WELL, DR. CORNELL, SEA WORLD HAS MORE OR LESS DESIGNATED YOU AS ---

Sea World hasn't told me that. So if you want to have them, like I said, write me a letter and tell me that they want me to comment on that issue, then I will tell you then.....

BUT ISN'T IT MUCH SIMPLER -- I MEAN, LOOK, I -- PRESUME I'M DEALING WITH A PERFECTLY ---

Let me -- let me just say this, nothing illegal transpired, okay?

EXACTLY.SO WHY CAN'T WE TALK ABOUT IT?

Because it happens to be Sea World business and not my business. And if you want to talk to them about it -- I'd be happy to talk to you about it if you -- if they write me a letter -- you know, this -- this -- we're going in circles here.Why don't you move on to something else?

LET ME TELL YOU WHERE I'M COMING FROM. UNFORTUNATELY, I ASKED SEA WORLD AND I GET THE RUNAROUND. AND I ASK YOU AND I GET THE RUNAROUND.

No, no, I'm not giving you a runaround. I'm saying to talk to Sea World about Sea World business. Would I interfere with your business? Am I -- you know, I'm not going to investigate your family and then go say "go talk to somebody about your family".

WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT OUR FAMILIES, ARE WE? WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE MOVEMENT OF -- OF MARINE MAMMALS AROUND THE WORLD IN CIRCUMSTANCES THAT RAISE CURIOSITY.

Well, all of those circumstances are -- are in the annals of the National Fisheries Service permit office so, you know, -- go dig out the permits and look and see what they said.

YEAH, IT'S ALL ON THE LEVEL.

Yes, exactly.

SO WHY CAN'T WE TALK ABOUT IT? WHO ---

Because I'm not authorized to talk -- on behalf of Sea World.

WELL, WHO OWNED -- WHO OWNED THE PSEUDORCAS IN JAPAN?

I'm not authorized to talk about Sea World business.

WHY ---

How many times do I have to tell you? I am not authorized to talk about Sea World business.

THIS PARTICULAR TRANSACTION IS WELL-DOCUMENTED AND WE HAVE THE DOCUMENTS. WE HAVE ---

Well, then you're set.

HUH?

Then you're all set.

WELL, OKAY. THE DOCUMENTS SHOW A NUMBER OF PROMINENT PERSONNEL -- YOU, BRAD ANDREWS, JIM ANTRIM -- GOING TO JAPAN HANDS-ON TAKING THIS PROCESS RIGHT THROUGH THE THE WHOLE CIRCUIT. AND -- IT WAS A HIGH-PROFILED PROJECT AND I DON'T KNOW WHY EVERYBODY IS SO SENSITIVE TALKING ABOUT IT.

Well, you know, if you want to talk about Sea World business, you've got to go talk to Sea World. I mean, I'm going to keep saying the same thing all over again: I don't have their permission to talk about it. You're going to have to get their permission for me to discuss it.

I'M CURIOUS ABOUT THE SENSITIVITY, WHETHER IT HAS TO DO WITH THE FACT THAT THESE ANIMALS FROM JAPAN MAY HAVE BEEN CAPTURED IN THE DRIVE FISHERY OR WHAT. I MEAN, WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT NUCLEAR WARHEADS HERE.

I'm not ---

WE'RE TALKING ABOUT -- FRIENDLY ANIMALS.

-- I'm not sensitive to it at all. I'm just telling you that if you want me to talk about it, you'll have to get Sea World's permission to do so. And if they give me their permission, I'd be happy to talk about it. So get them to write me a letter.

...BRAD ANDREWS, WHOM YOU KNOW, WHEN I ASKED HIM "HOW COULD LANNY CORNELL BROKER AN ARRANGEMENT BETWEEN SEA WORLD AND ...{UNCLEAR] JAPAN AND HOW DID THEY...", I THINK YOU OUGHT TO ASK HIM. I DON'T KNOW. I HAVEN'T THE SLIGHTEST IDEA. NOW, THAT SEEMS TO BE -- AND THAT'S IN WRITING ---

Well, probably because he wasn't involved in the process. So why don't you ---

HE WAS INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS. HE WAS ON THE ---

-- so if you (unclear) why don't you call -- you call Sea World -- Sea World's --

HE...WAS ON AIRPLANE WITH YOU GUYS.

-- contact -- Sea World's offices and ask them if they want me to discuss this with you and I certainly will I'm not at liberty to discuss anything that happened at Sea World while I was there unless I have Sea World's permission to do so, I'm sorry.

WELL, LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THE DRIVE FISHERY THEN. AS A VETERINARIAN, WHAT IS YOUR VIEW OF THAT PARTICULAR VEHICLE -- FOR TAKING MAMMALS INTO CAPTIVITY?

Well, I will comment this far on that issue and that is this. Animals are taken into a drive fishery for the purposes of being killed to be eaten. If I as a veterinarian can save an animal from being killed to be eaten, I think I have an obligation to do that and I -- if I have the opportunity. I don't care whether it's -- whether I have to go grab it and release it or carry it off to some pool and put it in a pool to save its life, I -- I'd be happy to do that.

NOW, YOUR CRITICS MIGHT ARGUE THAT AS A HIGH-PROFILED PERSON WITH GREAT CREDENTIALS IN THE FIELD, THAT YOU SHOULD BE LENDING YOUR AUTHORITY AND YOUR INTEGRITY TO TAKING A STAND AGAINST THAT FISHERY.

I think I just said that.

IT MIGHT BE ARGUED THAT BY TAKING ANIMALS FROM THAT SOURCE, YOU LEGITIMIZE THE PROCESS AND YOU MAKE IT FINANCIALLY WORTHWHILE TO THE PEOPLE WHO DO IT.

I think that what I said is the case is that if I have an opportunity to save an animal's life that I feel as a veterinarian, that's my -- that's my task in life. So I really don't see -- you know, I can fight against it politically and still save an animal's life. Just because I save an animal's life by taking it out of a drive fishery where it's going to be killed and eaten doesn't mean that I condone the aspect of the -- of the dry fishery. I don't care if it's any kind of fishery. The dry fishery is really not an inhumane way to catch animals, in my -- in my estimation; however, the fact that they're killed and eaten afterwards is in -- in my estimation not the thing to do. And so, I would say that if I had an opportunity to save the life of an animal under those circumstances, I'd be happy to do it.

HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT A PROCESS WHICH INVOLVES SCARING THEM HALF TO DEATH, DRIVING THEM UP ONTO THE SHORE IS -- EVEN IF THEY AREN'T KILLED AND EATEN AFTERWARDS ---

No, I said that the drive fishery process is not necessarily an inhumane process. Driving them up on the shore and killing them and eating them is, in my opinion.

IT SEEMS TO ME THAT'S KIND OF A MARGINAL POSITION. I MEAN --

Oh no, not at all. You know, if you have ever been involved in -- in seeing animals slaughtered -- you know, I've been - I've been to slaughter houses and seen cattle slaughtered and I've seen sheep slaughtered and I've seen chickens slaughtered and turkeys slaughtered and we -- you know, they're eaten all over the world today. Just because it happens to be the culture in certain parts of the world to -- to eat marine mammals, you know, that -- that's something that I disagree with,but that's -- you know, it may be politically incorrect, -- but that's the way life is around the world.

FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT, LET ME READ SOMETHING TO YOU. A DR. TOSHIO KASUYA--JAPANFISHERIES. 'THE REASON FOR THE DRIVE CIRCUIT CONDUCTED IS NO LONGER PURELY AS A PREDATOR ERADICATION. THEY ARE DONE FOR PROFIT. MEAT FROM THE SLAUGHTERED ANIMALS SOLD' AND OTHER ANIMALS ARE SOLD TO... I MEAN, HE'S SAYING VERY CLEARLY THAT ---

Meat from the slaughtered animals is sold to be eaten, exactly.

AND THE PROCESS IS OKAY?

No, -- don't take words and put them in my mouth. I explained this to you twice now and this is the third time. I'm going to say it one more time. The drive fisheries process of capturing animals is not necessarily an inhumane process. The process of driving them ashore and slaughtering them and eating them is, in my estimation, not the thing to do.

OKAY. I WANT TO GET A CLEAR ANSWER FROM YOU ABOUT THE STORIES WE HAVE HEARD -- ABOUT THE TRUTH OR ACCURACY OF STORIES WE HAVE HEARD TO THE FACT THAT THERE WAS A SYSTEM IN PLACE, LEGAL, PRESUMABLY-- OR I PRESUME YOU WOULDN'T BE INVOLVED IN IT -- THERE WAS A SYSTEM IN PLACE WHEREBY ANIMALS WERE HELD AFTER CAPTURE FORSUBSEQUENT INTRODUCTION INTO THE U.S. PARK SYSTEM AND-- THAT IT WAS A RATHER FORMALIZED SYSTEM WHICH INVOLVED OTHER AQUARIA IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD.

I don't know that I agree entirely with that statement. I will say that I agree with the fact that everything that was done was entirely legal, yes.

THERE WAS A SYSTEM?

No, I didn't say that. I said everything that was done was entirely legal.

WHAT ---

There was no system at all. You know -- and I told you that I'm not going to get involved in Sea World business. You're -- if you want them to have me -- write them a letter about ---

LET'S TALK NOT ABOUT SEA WORLD, LET'S TALK ABOUT YOU, DOCTOR CORNELL

No. I'm talking about Sea World because ---

WELL, BUT YOU ARE SEPARATE FROM SEA WORLD NOW.

At that time, I wasn't so I'm under responsibility to honor their ---

YOU'RE ALSO UNDER RESPONSIBILITY TO YOURSELF.

I've told you very bluntly how I feel about this whole issue.

WELL, I DIDN'T HEAR YOU. I MEAN, LIKE I MISSED SOMETHING BECAUSE I WANT TO KNOW HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT -- ABOUT THE PERCEPTION, THE OPTICS THAT THERE WAS SUCH A SYSTEM, THAT YOU WERE A PART OF IT AND THAT -- AND THAT IT -- IT FUNCTIONED FOR A WHILE FOR PURPOSES OF ---

I guess you're going to have to talk to the people that told you these stories because you know -- they're in their minds, I guess, I don't know. I can only tell you that ---

TELL ME IT'S A LIE THEN.

I'm not going to tell you it's a lie 'cause I don't know what you're talking about.

I DIDN'T SAY "TELL ME A LIE", I SAID TELL ME THAT THIS IS A LIE, THAT THIS IS ---

I don't know if it's a lie 'cause I don't know what you're talking about. I'm only going to tell you that everything that we were involved in when I was at Sea World was perfectly legal, worked out by attorneys, gone through the permit offices. Everything was done appropriately.

IS IT FAIR TO CHARACTERIZE WHATEVER THE SYSTEM IS THAT YOU WILL NOT DESCRIBE FOR ME AS A PROCESS OF ACCOMMODATING OR, PERHAPS, GETTING AROUND SOME OF THE MORE STRINGENT ASPECTS OF THE MARINE MAMMAL PROTECTION?

Not at all.

THAT'S NOT A FAIR REPRESENTATION?

No, not at all.

SEA WORLD'S OBJECTION TO KEIKO BEING RELEASED--THEY MAKE THE CASE THAT THIS HAS NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE, HE CAN'T FORAGE FOR HIS FOOD, HE HASN'T SOCIALIZED WITH OTHER ANIMALS...ALL OF THE SCIENCE SAYS IT CAN'T BE DONE AND I REALLY WANT ---

SEA WORLD'S VIEW IS THAT KEIKO BEEN IN CAPTIVITY A LONG TIME. HE HASN'T SOCIALIZED WITH OTHER -- YOU KNOW, WITH A LOT OF OTHER WHALES AS HE WAS KEPT, YOU KNOW, IN MEXICO. HE DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO FORAGE FOR FOOD, HE DOESN'T KNOW ESSENTIALLY THE STREET SKILLS OF A WHALE. AND SO, HE'S A VERY BAD CANDIDATE. AND THERE'S THE ISSUE OF PATHOGENS....

-- let me speak to the issue of Keiko introducing pathogens in the -- into the world oceans. Let's not forget that he is in the world and the pathogens that he has that are pathogens from the world. He's not come from another planet. And he is -- as far as we know and we will continue to do detecting on his immune system and his antibody system to determine what he's been exposed to and what he might be carrying. But at this point, we haven't found anything in Keiko that can't be found in the ocean.

SEA WORLD AND OTHER, YOU KNOW, MAMMAL -- PEOPLE WHO DEAL IN THE CAPTURE AND THE DISPLAY OF MAMMALS, ALONG WITH THE ICELANDERS -- I MEAN, THEY RAISED THE POINT THAT HE HAS BEEN OUT OFF THE WILD FOR SO LONG THAT HE HAS NO LONGER ANY OF THE SOCIAL SKILLS OR SURVIVAL SKILLS THAT -- THAT WOULD BE NECESSARY TO STAY ALIVE IN THE WILD FOR MORE THAN A MATTER OF -- OF HOURS.

Well, part of what we're teaching Keiko here is to -- most of those skills, by the way, are genetic skills. Animals are born with those capabilities and they learn from other whales around them. And some of the things that we're teaching Keiko now are some of those skills that he'll need to survive in the ocean such as catching fish.

For the rest of it, you know, in the early seventies, a grey whale was captured and kept in captivity for a year -- captured as a baby and kept in captivity for a year and then released off the west coast of the United States. That animal certainly had no survival skills and no skills that were developed as a youngster; and yet, that animal was tracked all the way up the California coastline into the -- toward -- you know, into and toward the Bering Sea before the radio pack that it was wearing was disabled or lost or whatever so...

And it's also thought that that animal was spotted again several years several times later because the markings that were on it that would identify it so...

And -- it's my understanding -- and I could be wrong -- but it's my understanding that that's about to occur again this next spring with a grey whale that was rescued off the coast of California again. So if that's the case, then I don't see how those projects differ anymore than what we did with Kayko. In 1967, I was involved in the release of a pilot whale off of the-- the California coastline near Catalina Island. In 1976, that same animal was spotted again and photographed. We know it can happen and we know that they can survive.

KEIKO HAS BECOME CENTRAL TO A CULTURE, A SUBCULTURE IN THIS COUNTRY. HOW ARE YOU PREPARED TO TAKE THE RISK OF SENDING HIM INTO A PLACE WHERE HE MAY END UP DEAD; THEREBY, CREATING A MASSIVE PUBLIC RELATIONS PROBLEM FOR THE ANIMAL WELFARE PEOPLE, FOR THE MARINE PARK PEOPLE --

I don't see how that's --

-- AND FOR YOU?

-- how is that a massive problem for anyone -- if Keiko is placed in a situation where he has every ample opportunity to survive. You know, he's either going to live or die. He's going to do the very best he can and we're going to do the very best we can for him. I would see that, in my estimation, that Keiko should be given every opportunity to go to the sea and survive if he can.

WHY SO MUCH EFFORT AND HULLABALOO ABOUT THE RELEASE OF AN ANIMAL THAT'S NOT IN ANY DANGER OF EXTINCTION, THAT BASICALLY SEEMS TO BE HEALTHY AND SECURE?

Well, in the first place, we're doing this for Keiko because -- this is something for him and it's at the request and desire of people that want to see him released.

HOW DO YOU KNOW HE WANTS TO GO BACK? HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT HE ---

-- I mean, who can talk to animals? I don't know that. But secondly, what if the next whale is an endangered species and what if what we learn on Keiko allows us to return and re-establish an endangered species in the wild, where are we going to get that knowledge if not now? And if not with Keiko, who?

BUT HOW BIG A FACTOR THEN IS THIS ELEMENT OF EXPERIMENTATION -- OR TRIAL?

There's no question it's a risk for Keiko and it's a risk for all of us and it's also a risk for any animal to be alive in the ocean. As I pointed out earlier, the mortality rate for animals -- in the ocean is anywhere from 10 to 20 -- 10 to 25 per cent of the population every year.

A NUMBER OF PEOPLE OUT THERE SAY IT'S AN ODD ASSIGNMENT FOR A FELLOW WHOSE -- WHOSE BUSINESS WAS CAPTURING WHALES, LOOKING AFTER THEM IN CAPTIVITY FOR THE BETTER PART OF HIS CAREER TO HAVE THE LAST WORD IN WHETHER OR NOT THIS PARTICULAR WHALE GOES BACK TO THE WILD. WHAT'S YOUR RESPONSE?

Well, actually, I don't have any say in whether he goes back to the wild or not. This is going to be done by the ---

WELL, HE AIN'T GOING BACK IF YOU DON'T SAY HE CAN.

This is going to be a -- a decision made by the people at the Free Willy Keiko Foundation that are in charge of this animal's life. I'm one voice out of many and there'll be many scientists involved in giving us advice as to whether this should happen or not. I don't see it as a conflict at all. I mean, my-- my life has been dedicated to the caring of animals in captivity and the caring -- and in caring for animals in the wild. I've rescued animals off the beach and returned them to the wild and -- and I've worked with animals in captivity and nursed them and nurtured them. This is my job, it's what I do.




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