Marine Mammals

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1993:

The hit film Free Willy gave new
impetus to the ongoing campaign to persuade
Sea World in San Diego to return an orca named
Corky to her native habitat off British Columbia.
Her mother and several siblings remain with the
pod from which she was captured 24 years ago.
Sea World contends Corky could no longer sur-
vive in the wild. Free Willy has also started a
campaign on behalf of Keiko, the star of the
film, who resides at the El Nuevo Reino
Aventura amusement park in Mexico City. Free
Willy producers Lauren Shuler-Donner and
Richard Donner are reportedly ready to buy
Keiko and move him to a better facility, perhaps
even a fenced inlet off Cape Cod, using
$200,000 contributed by Warner Brothers, the
film’s distributor. Captured off Iceland in 1982,
and kept at Marineland in Niagara Falls before
being sold to his present keepers, Keiko hasn’t
drawn interest from major aquariums because of
a purportedly debilitating skin condition.

However, former Sea World veterinarian Dr.
Lanny Cornell argues that the condition results
from poor water quality, is not contagious, and
can be cured.
Namibia on June 30 authorized the
massacre by clubbing of up to 50,000 seals
this year. Last year’s quota was 42,000, but
only 23,000 were actually killed. The dead
seals are sold for pet food, except for the geni-
tals of males, which are sent to the Far East for
use in aphrodisiacs.
Defying the international ban on
whaling, Norwegian whalers killed a quota of
160 minke whales in July and early August,
while Commerce Secretary Ron Brown was
still considering a request from Representatives
Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) and Arthur Ravenal (R-
S.C.) to impose punitive trade sanctions against
Norway in an attempt to stop the slaughter.
The USDA is considering revisions to
the Animal Welfare Act standards for the
humane care and transport of marine mammals
used in exhibition and research. At issue are
whether to set ambient air and water temperature
ranges for each species, whether regulations
should govern exposure to noise, whether dol-
phin swim programs should be permitted,
whether marine mammals should be kept in soli-
tary confinement, and whether water quality
requirements should be strengthened. Get
details from R.L. Crawford, 301-436-4981.
Written comments are due October 6.
Eight seals and sea lions who had
been killed with arrows or harpoons washed
ashore near San Diego circa August 1––the sec-
ond worst illegal massacre along the west coast
this year. In February and March, 64 dead har-
bor seals, sea lions, and Stellar’s sea lions
washed up on a 20-mile stretch of beach in
Washington, including several pregnant
females. All had been shot. Autopsies proved
none had been stealing from fishing nets.
The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago
made headlines August 24 for barring Chicago
Animal Rights Coalition member Debra Leahy
because she wore a t-shirt commemorating the
deaths of two beluga whales at the Shedd a year
ago. Leahy is considering bringing a civil liber-
ties suit against the Shedd management..
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