From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1998:
NEAH BAY, Wash.; NEWPORT,
Ore.––If the media drama underway in the
Pacific Northwest was a professional wrestling
match, it would be billed as the Makah
Harpooners vs. Willy the Whale, alias Killer
Keiko, orca star of the hit films Free Willy!,
Free Willy II, and Free Willy III.
Scrapping for air time, they might
make a show of enmity, and their partisans
might fall for it, but more cynical viewers
would suspect they were working for the same
But who might own the syndicate––
Hollywood, or Japan?
Whoever wrote the “Keiko-vs.-
Makah” script, literal or figurative, seems to
have worked for four years to bring about an
autumn battle of Leviathans. Captain Paul “The
Pirate” Watson and fellow voyagers of the Sea
Shepherd Conservation Society will try to put
themselves between the Makah whalers and
migrating gray whales. The Free Willy/Keiko
Foundation, led by David Phillips, also head of
Earth Island Institute, will meanwhile prepare
Keiko to become the first of his species ever
returned to the ocean after prolonged captivity.
The real struggle will come through
your TV and mailbox, as their causes vie for
public interest and donations.