THE PRODUCERS OF FREE WILLY SAY YOU WANTED THE SCRIPT CHANGED TO REFLECT
BETTER ON THE AQUARIUM BUSINESS.
The producers from Free Willy - the first Free Willy - they wanted
to shoot the picture here. We talked to them about that. We looked at the
script, and we didn't agree with them with the outcome of the story. They
wanted to use our facility and we wanted to, you know, tell the right story.
It's as simple as that. They went to a sub-standard facility in Mexico, and
shot it down there.
WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THE SCRIPT?
The script indicated the release of the animal after the long-term care. And
that's basically what we've been talking about--that animal is not a good
candidate. And it tells the wrong story to the public. It tells them that
you know,' be free, be happy, and enjoy life.' Well, that's not the way it
It's certainly the over-simplification of something that's very complex. And
an assumed outcome that would, very likely , in real life, be exactly the
opposite. And moving the killer whale on a boat trailer is humorous at best
THE MOVEMENT OF TILLIKUM FROM CANADA TO THE UNITED STATES.... TELL ME THAT
STORY. HOW DID THE RELATIONSHIP WITH ICELAND - THE CASE WAS REFERRED TO THE
ICELANDIC AUTHORITIES FOR SOME SORT OF CLARIFICATION ON WHETHER OR NOT THE
WHALE SHOULD BE RELEASED. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?
Actually, Brad's the right one to ask.
The import permit from the National Fisheries Service, which is the U.S.
government agency, to import Tillikum from Victoria, Canada had a condition to
it that we would check with the Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries on the
feasibility of Tillikum being a candidate for release in Icelandic waters.
Seeing as it was a condition to that permit, we asked them the feasibility and
what they thought. They responded with a letter that it's not a good
idea and we don't want it to happen.
Tillikum was imported under a National Fisheries Services import, which is a
U.S. government agency, and one of the conditions of the permit stated that we
should check with the Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries to find out if that
particular animal was a good candidate for release on Icelandic waters. We
went to them, asked them what they thought, and they said, no.
WHICH MIRRORED YOUR OWN OPINION?
Absolutely. It mirrored our opinion.
AND THEY KNEW IT?
I don't know if they knew it.
IT HAS BECOME A TEMPLATE NOW FOR ANYTHING THAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE
Well, it makes scientific sense. To take an animal that has lived in the care
of man for that many years eating fish from many oceans and living with
animals from varied backgrounds--I think there's a concern, even though it's
incredibly small--if your existing natural populations of animals are healthy,
to introduce an animal from that long-term captive environment, carries with it
the risk of introduction of disease in the form of organisms that may be
foreign to that environment--and they may be organisms that don't even affect, if
we're talking about killer whales, maybe it won't even affect the killer
whale. It might be something that came from herring, that came from another
ocean. The risks are minuscule, but they're still there, and there's just no
point in jeopardizing a healthy environment by introducing a major unknown like
THE ANIMAL WELFARE, AND --THIS IS SORT OF BASICALLY THE BOTTOM LINE HERE-- THE ANIMAL WELFARE PEOPLE WILL SAY THAT YOU--LOBBED A SLOW PITCH TO THE ICELANDERS,
TO HIT A HOME RUN, AND THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT, IF THEY EVER DO
APPLY TO GET KEIKO RETURNED.
We don't play games, and we don't play baseball. The National Fisheries
Service asked the question. We didn't. The Icelandic government responded.
We didn't. We had nothing to do with the question, nor the answer. So whoever
thinks that we lobbed anything into the picture, is absolutely off base.
Something else--I think that needs to be understood, is this isn't an opinion
that's only Iceland's and only Sea World's. This is a pretty widely held
position--a lot of conservation biologists, I think--in Canada there was a
document done by a commission--the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans--that
actually reflects this same concern. I believe also there was one in Barcelona,
Spain. There's a U.S. Navy document which investigated the feasibility of
returning dolphins from the U.S. Navy back to the wild, and the conclusions
come up pretty much the same every time. That to risk the wild population for
a reintroduction doesn't make any sense. There is no real justification
for doing that where a wild population is already healthy.
THE DOCUMENTATION ON THE TRANSFER OF GUDRUN TO THE UNITED STATES FROM HOLLAND
SHOWS QUITE CLEARLY THAT SEAWORLD USA WAS ESSENTIALLY TRADING SEAWORLD KAMOGAWA
ANIMALS FOR THE TRANSACTION. HOW COULD THAT POSSIBLY HAVE HAPPENED?
I havent seen that type of paperwork. The only paperwork that I was open to
and that is in our record books today, are the different governmental exchanges
of the animals going from one facility to another. If Sea World had the
opportunity to transfer--you can't transfer somebody else's animals, unless you
buy them, or you're going to give them something for them in the future. It's
like, it's almost like trading sports--you'll go to this club, and in the
future, we'll provide you with 2 younger players, because he's worth this much.
I have no idea if that is what happened.
BUT YOU SAY, IT WOULD RAISE THE POSSIBILITY, HYPOTHETICALLY, AT LEAST, THAT
THEYWERE REALLY SEA WORLD USA's ANIMALS AT THE KAMOGAWA FACILITY IN JAPAN?
Hypothetically, I can.
COULD THAT POSSIBLY BE THE CASE?
No idea. Again, the paperwork that I was privy to was simply the government
papers of--import and exports, and it says, from A to B, and it didn't say that
C owned A and was taking the B for these animals.
BUT THE IMPLICATION'S THERE, ISN'T IT?
No. Not in my estimation, because of what I saw there was no implication of
IF I'M WORKING FOR SEA WORLD, ACQUIRING A KILLER WHALE FROM AN AQUARIUM IN
HOLLAND--AND I'M TRADING--WITH--ORCAS FROM A FACILITY IN JAPAN, IT'S REASONABE
TO DRAW THE CONCLUSION THAT I OWN THE ONES IN JAPAN?
And how did you own the ones in Japan? Did you purchase them from the owner
THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION. I DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER.
Well, I don't either. It's not impractical that happened. People buy rhinos
at one zoo. Keep it there for years, until their facility is ready to house a
3rd or 4th rhino and then bring it to their facility. People own animals at
other facilities all the time.
ISN'T IT POSSIBLE THAT THE ANIMALS WERE BASICALLY STORED IN JAPAN, FOR
A RAINY DAY, BY SOMEBODY REPRESENTING SEA WORLD USA?
I have no idea.
IS IT REASONABLE, OR LOGICAL?
Again, I have no idea. Why would somebody store animals for a rainy day? You
move animals from institution to institution to serve the breeding programs,
the gene pool compatibility issues. That's what I do. I don't store animals in
somebody else's facility for a rainy day--and the implication, I resent.
IN THE EVENT THAT YOU COULDN'T GET A PERMIT, OR YOUR PREDECESSORS COULDN'T GET
A PERMIT, WOULD IT BE A FEASIBLE PROPOSITION TO PARK A MARINE MAMMAL SOMEWHERE
ELSE IN THE WORLD FOR A TIME WHEN YOU COULD GET THE PERMIT TO MOVE THAT ANIMAL
TO THE UNITED STATES? WOULD THAT BE A REASONABLE OR A LEGITIMATE PRACTICE?
I think that's some--sort of stretching for storing. But we don't do that.
AND NEVER DID?
Jim and I are responsible people that work for Sea World. When we came to
work for Sea World --we don't do anything like you're suggesting, and if you
want to imply that it happened, or that it happened because of hearsay or
someone else saying it--
I ASKED ABOUT THE DRIVE FISH--BEFORE-- WHAT IS THE POLICY OF SEAWORLD TODAY
IN TERMS OF ANIMALS ACQUIRED FROM THAT FISHERY? DO YOU HAVE A POLICY?
We have no plan to collect animals or save animals lives from a drive
WHAT IS THE POLICY ON ACCEPTING OR COLLECTING ANIMALS FROM THE JAPANESE DRIVE
Right now we don't have any plans to collect any animals from the Japanese
drive fishery, and part of that is--it's complicated right now too, because the
Japanese are beginning to talk about small whaling again--which is going beyond
the realm of the International Whaling Commission's scientific whaling. And
they're complicating the issues with all of their programs. And again, going
back to the original issue, I think saving the animal's more important, and
not interfering with what happens in other parts of the world.
I THINK THERE WAS A COURT DECISION IN THE UNITED STATES THAT RECOGNIZED THAT
IPSO FACTO, THE JAPANESE DRIVE FISHERY IS INHUMANE, AND THEREFORE ANY
COLLECTION THROUGH THE DRIVE FISHERY WOULD PUT YOU OUTSIDE OF THE LIMITS OF THE
MARINE MAMMALS ACT.....
I'm not aware of any lawsuit or court ruling. I do know that one of the
conditions of an import from the National Fisheries Service would be that the
animals were collected in a humane manner.
IS THAT NOT A CONTRADICTION IN TERMS, WHEN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT THE JAPANESE
DRIVE FISHERY? HOW COULD YOU CALL THAT HUMANE IN ANY WAY?
Well, it's not humane, because theyíre going to kill them and eat them.
But to save them is humane. We used the same technique in Barnes Lake, Alaska,
two years old, and saved nine killer whales that had been trapped in a fresh
water lake. We used the same technique--We were called--again, why didn't
somebody else?-- get called? We got called. We went up there and used the
same type of techniques, with boats and pipes over the side, driving the
animals towards an opening to save their lives. And it's unfortunate--of those
nine, two didn't make it because they'd been in that fresh water lake for too
I don't have any answer for you in terms of the Japanese, and if what they're
doing is right or long. I'm not going to judge them. There's people all over
the world right now, that are eating endangered --for delicacies, and catching
small (unclear) and eating them. And the River dolphins in Amazon--their
genitals are being used for aphrodisiacs. I mean, there's things that go on
outside the realm of what we feel is acceptable here, in the United States.
IT'S A LAW OF THE UNITED STATES THAT THERE HAS TO BE A HUMANE COLLECTION, NO
MATTER WHETHER IT'S IN ICELANDIC--
OR JAPAN, OR WHEREVER?
And that's part of the condition for an import permit--if they don't give a
permit, then you're not going to import the animal.
AND--HOW DO YOU PERMIT--I MEAN THE JAPANESE DRIVE FISHERY--BY ANYBODY'
S--GRANTED KILLING THEM IS INHUMANE, BUT DRIVING UP INTO A POSITION WHERE THEY
CAN BE CAPTURED IS ALSO--INHUMANE.
It's a definition of how you collect an animal, and what your purpose is
going to be, and if you' ve ever seen those processes, you would know the
differences. You know, we're getting into the discussion now of a
slaughterhouse, and how humane it is to drive the cows through the chute before
their last step. I mean, what's humane and what's not? You--expect the food to
show up all packaged in the supermarket the next day. So we're going into,
sort of, again, a resource issue here on what's right in one country is not
right in another. I don't know today, if we applied for a permit--which we're
not going to--if the U.S. government would accept the humaneness or
non-humaneness of that collection process, or not. Because I'm not sure what
court case you're talking about.
SOMEBODY WHO USED TO WORK HERE SAID THAT MARINE MAMMALS ARE WORTH A MILLION
DOLLARS A DAY IN FOOD AND BEVERAGE? ARE THEY REALLY THAT BIG?
I have no idea. No idea. Jim and I take care of the animals. We're
responsible for animal programs. We're not a bookkeeper in the back room who
is looking at what one animal brings to the bottom line in food and beverage.
You can make up any little fact and figure what you want and just banter
around--oh, what about all the 250 penguins in the (unclear) counter--well, do
they bring in $50,000 each in food and beverage every day? Or, how about the
stuffed penguin that was bought, because the kids like it so much, because they
got an affinity for penguins? I mean, that's sort of one of those, you
know--let's pull it out of the air, use it and fling it around. It's a useless
IT'S A BIG NUMBER. THE RELEVANCE IS THAT IT DOES PUT A LOT OF MONEY INTO
RESEARCH AND BENEFICIAL PROGRAMS.
AND I SUPPOSE THE QUALITY OF THAT--RELATES TO THE AMOUNT OF MONEY YOU HAVE
COMING IN FROM THE VERY ANIMALS IN THE--?
Again, you have to look at a viable business. Again, I'm going to reiterate
what I said earlier. There's nothing wrong with a business, to survive, and a
business must survive by making money. If you--to reinvest that money in that
business to survive year after year after year, no matter what business you
have, if you reinvest in it properly for the future, that business is going to
thrive. That's why our governments, right now, are bankrupt. They're
not good businesses.
You have to stop and think about the capital that you put into habitat for the
animals, the yearly operation of running the water systems, buying the food,
veterinary care, the research, the conservation, the stranded animals--it's
enormous. It's millions and millions and millions of dollars. Again, I'm not
a creative accountant, so I'm not going to just throw out a percentage, when
you stop and realize how many dollar amounts have been put into the Sea World
parks in the last seven years alone, it's upwards of 200 million dollars, in
terms of hard mortar and bricks, life supports systems for animals that we use
to educate the folks and to learn about the animals and to help researchers in
the wild fill out that big, big puzzle out there.
It seems to me that this is really, in a way, sort of a distraction. Money is
really not the issue here. The thing that Sea World
does--contributes immensely to conservation through its effect on people's
thinking. That's what conservation has to be--it's rooted in every resident,
every citizen of the country. Conservation doesn' t happen because one
individual chooses to give a percent of their income to something. That's not
how conservation happens. It's got to be a group effort, and if the public
doesn't receive the sensitivity, the education, the concern, then how is
conservation going to happen? That's where I see the significant value of
places like Sea World or zoos--is how it can affect public thinking.
And that has a money value to it because you can't measure that. You can't
say, by the way, how much did you spend last year after you learned in our
facilities, you now. But when you do, when you look at the Roper Poll, that
says that 92% of the American public feels that facilities like Sea World are
very important. That tells you something so that something is happening out
HOW MUCH ARE YOU AFFECTED BY THE ANIMAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT?
The effect is, I think, minimal. I think they have, you know, an impact
because they have a way to attract media points, or throughout the types of
figures that they they get things theyíre excited about. I think one of
the things that, different, some of the responsible mid-line conservation
groups, like Greenpeace, and Green Conservation Center, are looking at the
larger picture issues, and--look at eco-systems and bio-diversity, and some
of the bigger things that we've been talking about. I think when you look at
the smaller percentage, and it is a minority issue, they're vocal, loud, and
they're entitled to their opinion. And that's it.