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Willy, he dead


This is not news — it happened in 2003, apparently — but I did not know it: Keiko, the whale who played Willy in the movie Free Willy, didn’t do all that great on the outside. In fact, he died. Didn’t play nice with the other orcas, pined for human company, and croaked with pneumonia.

I know this because a Danish study came out today saying he was never a good candidate for release. Caught too young, too many years in captivity.

Happy Friday!


Comment from Anonymous
Time: May 8, 2009, 8:45 pm

We need to preserve his memory. Freeze Willy!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 8, 2009, 8:47 pm

“Well, that’s a fairly enigmatic post!” Uncle B said when he read this one. Then he read the remark about “sizzling otter spleens on a stick” and got the rats and disappeared in the kitchen.

Probably to immolate some otter spleens.

Comment from Tesla
Time: May 8, 2009, 9:08 pm

Would Willy BBQ, do ya think?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 8, 2009, 9:27 pm

Obligatory, legendary dead whale and dynamite video.

Comment from naleta
Time: May 8, 2009, 10:18 pm

Dy-no-MITE!!!! roflol ;D

I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I’ll be good now. *naleta goes to sit in the corner, quietly*

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: May 8, 2009, 10:50 pm


Comment from Anonymous
Time: May 8, 2009, 11:45 pm

RE: Obligatory, legendary dead whale and dynamite video.

Weasel, you forgot to say “There she blows (UP)!!”

That’s obligatory too, you know…

Comment from iamfelix
Time: May 9, 2009, 12:14 am

Another obligatory:

Save the whales! Collect the whole set!!

Comment from TimB52
Time: May 9, 2009, 12:33 am

Ah, Keiko.

The old boy resided here in Oregon for a while before the morons decided to let him go. Fortunately, the dynamite guys didn’t get to him first!

We went to see him, it was cool. He’d swim right up to this huge underwater window in the reeeally big aquarium out there in Newport. They just should have left him there. But NO! Stupid bastards.

Comment from scubafreak
Time: May 9, 2009, 1:15 am

OI, Stoatie. I can top that video….. 😉


Comment from scubafreak
Time: May 9, 2009, 1:16 am

Take 2 for the mod queue

Vid to top Stoatie’s DYNAMITE vid…

http ://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/wild/3464/Overview/?source=4003#tab-Videos/06221_00

Comment from dfbaskwill
Time: May 9, 2009, 10:01 am

At a Podiatry conference in Philadelphia last year, Dave Barry was the Keynote Speaker. I actually received Continuing Medical Education credits for listening to him tell the story of the exploding whale, which he says is the best story of the century. It was the largest ever collection of foot doctors ever in one room.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: May 9, 2009, 11:13 am

Yeah we knew that in Oregon when they kept trying to set the killer whale free from the Newport Aquarium. He was genuinely affectionate and liked people. Why not? They fed him and were nice to him all the time. His display area paid for the aquarium and set them up nicely for the future, then when the attendance started to tail off, they wanted to dump him.

Comment from Dawn
Time: May 9, 2009, 12:25 pm

Researchers run an experiment to estimate the force of the explosion that ripped through this giant whale.
So they put a load of peat bags on four pounds of dynomite and said – yep, that looks about right.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: May 9, 2009, 2:18 pm

Killing, skinning, and eating animals is the only intrusion humans should visit upon them. All else is self-deluding bullshit.

Oh, unless they’re trainable and large enough to bear a human’s weight, in which case they should be ridden a while before killing, skinning, and eating them.

Comment from Pupster
Time: May 9, 2009, 3:41 pm

*slowly backs away from jw*

Not a dog person, eh?

Comment from Anonymous
Time: May 9, 2009, 9:51 pm

Oh, unless they’re trainable and large enough to bear a human’s weight, in which case they should be ridden a while before killing, skinning, and eating them.

*also slowly backs away from JW*

You ride cows?

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: May 10, 2009, 1:24 am

JWPaine: So, you don’t consume wool, cheese, milk, butter, or eggs? Don’t approve of falconry, draft animals and pack animals, or dogs to track fugitives, detect drugs and explosives, and locate victims in wrecked structures?

Or, to veer in another direction, the extermination of rats and mice in human-occupied structures, and the killing of dangerous animals in human-occupied territory?

I eat animals every day – but I don’t confine myself to that.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: May 10, 2009, 10:53 am

Jeez. I wasn’t writing a categorical examination of humane treatment of animals throughout the ages, I was criticizing those who let their political fantasies interfere with their reasoning process (there’s an awful lot of that going around, in case you hadn’t noticed).

Actually, Maddox said it better, funnier, and more briefly with “For every animal you don’t eat, I’m going to eat three.”

And for the record, I own a horse ranch. I have two working cattle dogs, 11 horses and two cats, one of which follows me around obsessively (we call him my personal stalker). I’ve trained harness and roping horses, raised steers, trained Labrador retrievers; when I was a kid, I milked cows for six years to pay for a $150 horse (I once saddled a milk cow and rode it about 50 yards before Bossie decided she’d had enough of the experience). I’ve sheared sheep (and observed the novel but rather untidy way sheepherders castrate lambs). To be brief (rather belatedly), I’m aware of the multitude of uses to which we put animals.

I have no use for people who mistreat animals, whether the motivation is malice or ignorance. The animal can’t tell the difference.

Comment from Pupster
Time: May 10, 2009, 11:12 am

Can’t speak for anon or Rich, but I was just joshing ya JW.

Besides, if it was a choice, I could probably ‘bear your weight’ if you laid off the cheeseburgers, and Mrs. Pupster says I’m marginally trainable with negative re-enforcement.

*runs finger under shock collar*

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 10, 2009, 2:00 pm

Jw mashes up adorable baby bunnies and spreads them on toast.

Y’all know that, right?

Comment from jwpaine
Time: May 10, 2009, 3:53 pm

Weez: …And that’s when I’m in a good mood. [bares toothless gums and growls unconvincingly]

Pup: I have undergone similar training, and graduated with honors (not a single toilet seat in our house is left up, ever, not for the last 25 years). I’m not sure, but I think our cycles have even synchronized.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: May 10, 2009, 5:40 pm

Bunnies on toast! My favorite!

Comment from Allen
Time: May 10, 2009, 8:37 pm

Well, I do know how to blow up a horse, Srsly, the various federal agencies that administer the national forests, parks, and wilderness areas have agreed on a disposal method for pack animals that have kicked the bucket.

One mountain horse I had. I think his Indian name was, “One Crazy Fucking Horse.” Of course my moniker was “Large Stupid Man on Crazy Fucking Horse.” At any rate he went off the cliff, the horse that is. Damn I miss the saddle and rifle that went with him.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: May 11, 2009, 10:52 am

I still have a trick knee from a strawberry roan that I couldn’t break of rearing. She’d go up and over, and I was standing beside her each time, ready to get back on as she stood up. Until the last time, that is, when I was a little slow and got my leg caught between her full weight and a large object hurtling around the sun.

If there’d been a cliff nearby, I’d have gladly helped her over it.

Comment from Allen
Time: May 11, 2009, 11:51 am

JW, I have a simple solution for that kind of critter Deep-pit Roasting. My current trail nag has a “fun” habit of trying to give me the brush when we get into the Joshua trees. Stuck himself once which was kind of exciting.

Oh, here’s the link for blowing up horses

Comment from jwpaine
Time: May 11, 2009, 1:20 pm

That’s our motto here at the Wicked Pony Ranch: Not a jughead in the herd—We ate those last winter!

Comment from Sockless Joe
Time: May 11, 2009, 10:19 pm

This story makes me think of John Pinette.

Comment from BestHelen
Time: June 5, 2009, 9:57 pm

I have found what i was looking for !!! thx )

Comment from ericabradney
Time: September 26, 2009, 8:30 am

i think he will always be the nicest addn caring whale and that he will never die and that he will always be the brightest star in the sky reast in peace keik(free willy)

Comment from reece
Time: April 27, 2010, 2:58 pm



Comment from S. Weasel
Time: April 27, 2010, 3:27 pm

That, ladies and gentleman, was my favorite blog comment.


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: April 27, 2010, 3:33 pm

Clearly a very literal minded person. But I thought “kind regards” was a nice touch!

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: April 27, 2010, 3:34 pm

Think we could persuade Reece to come tell us HIS scar stories?

Comment from Cassie
Time: June 5, 2010, 2:05 am

I can’t believe that someone would be this stupid to post something like this… I mean come on any true Free Willy fan can look at this pic and tell you that its not keiko… give the whale a break he was taken from his home at a very young age and never knew what it was like to be in the wild or to live with other orcas!!!!

Comment from Anonymous
Time: December 8, 2010, 6:23 am

You are all dicks.

Comment from Anonymous
Time: December 8, 2010, 6:24 am

I gotta agree with Cassie.

Comment from Juliet Jagoe :)
Time: March 21, 2011, 9:45 pm

This isn’t really Keiko… He had black spots under his chin, and all the things you people said are really cruel and rude!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 21, 2011, 10:13 pm

About every six months, this thread pops up and gives me a smooch on the cheek.

I wish all my posts did that.

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: March 21, 2011, 10:21 pm

Hilarious, Stoaty. Somebody musta stumbled across this thread somewheres and immediately rose up in some sort of high dudgeon, posting the link for all to see. Can you tell where they’re linking from?!

I hope you’re properly chastized.

Hee hee

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 21, 2011, 10:31 pm

Hmmm…that last one was from a college in Texas.

I tend to float high in the Google image searches, so I always assumed it was people looking for pictures of Keiko crossing the Rainbow Bridge or something. Yep, there it is: I’m currently number two in a search for “keiko willy.”

Threads about our stylish first lady occasionally get this kind of response, too.

I perversely LOVE these posts — the ones that tell me how much I (or my commenters) suck. I’m not sure what it is about them that tickles me so much.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: March 21, 2011, 10:35 pm

Oh, and no — they’re quite right. That whale is not Keiko. It’s just a picture of a dead whale I found.

A whale that lived its whole life all alone in the big, cold ocean, and never knew the love of that one special little girl or boy.

And then it died. Alone.

Sweet dreams!

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: March 21, 2011, 10:58 pm

Pardon me for giggling. 🙂

Comment from David Gillies
Time: March 21, 2011, 11:06 pm

I can see how you could be cruel to a whale (e.g. the maritime equivalent of dumping a pet dog by the side of the road) but how exactly are you ‘rude’ to one? Have a krill-party and don’t send it an invite? Or perhaps shout, “hey fish-breath: yo momma so fat, her blubber have blubber!”

Comment from Danyael john
Time: April 21, 2012, 6:02 am

I like keiko

Comment from search
Time: September 24, 2014, 5:13 am

Great article. I’m dealing with many of these issues as well..

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