I never saw the 'Free Willy' movies, believe it or not, but I've always loved orcas, and whales in general. (For awhile I actually had an 'adopted' whale where I sent money to help humpbacks and received a picture of 'my' whale (or rather, her tail) sort of like those 'save the children'-style charities.)
But on a good note...
- Keiko died free, where he wanted to be, rather than where people thought he should be (he didn't conform to the programme they thought they had, heading straight to Norway of all places--where there is still whaling, although not of orcas).
- He was able to swim with wild whales and yet keep the human companionship he apparently craved. Indeed, he was surrounded by the handlers who had been monitoring him and treating him for the pneumonia that suddenly took his life.
- Wherever he went...whether in parks, in the movies, or in his adopted home of Norway, he taught people a lot about whales and inspired them to try to protect him and his cousins.
So maybe, in the long-run, this one whale did more to enlighten people than any programme or leaflet could begin to.
Rest in peace, Keiko. And, thank you.