Open Letter to Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society, Regarding 'Keiko: The Untold Story'

Open Letter to Wayne Pacelle, CEO of The Humane Society of the United States Regarding Keiko: The Untold Story of the Star of 'Free Willy'.

Dear Wayne,

My name is Theresa Demarest and I am the independent filmmaker for the award-winning documentary Keiko: The Untold Story of the Star of 'Free Willy'. I am writing to you to encourage you to see our film. This is so easy to do now that the film is available on VOD Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, Vimeo, Microsoft, YouTube, and more.

As you well know, misconceptions about Keiko's actual condition during his rehabilitation effort are passionately controversial and grossly misunderstood by the general public. All you need do is review our KeikoDoc Facebook page to witness first-hand how that fact becomes so strikingly clear. This is the very reason we set out to produce this film.

For so many years, SeaWorld has gotten away with convincing the public that the Keiko rehabilitation effort was a complete failure. The current television ad campaign maligning the Keiko Project is even more aggressive and deceiving than usual. The last thing SeaWorld wants is for the public to understand that Keiko's rehabilitation from captivity to an ocean-based sea pen and beyond, though not a storybook tale, was successful in so many significant and substantial ways. It serves as a real alternative to what currently exists. At the very least, SeaWorld's dismissal of the effort particularly with its current anti-Keiko ad campaign, is dishonest and self-serving. They are obviously trying to cover up their past and current abuses toward orcas and sea life in general. If the public clearly understood the reality of the tremendous successes of the Keiko project, SeaWorld would have no choice but to continue to invest their dollars into providing a natural habitat for these amazing creatures.

What SeaWorld doesn't seem to realize is that this is something that the public could actually support with much-needed dollars and enthusiasm. This would be a win-win situation for both the public and SeaWorld, and most of all for the orcas.

Taking into account both the successes and failures of the Keiko project, which your organization was so deeply committed to at the time, Keiko's rehabilitation effort may provide a blueprint to work from and adjust as needed for future retirement plans for orcas currently in captivity. This can't be done unless the public clearly understands the whole story of Keiko's journey as told by those who were there the entire time -- like the Free Willy Keiko Foundation, Earth Island Institute, and the International Marine Mammal Project to name a few.

The untold story of Keiko's life and legacy is critical to the discussion and should not be so irresponsibly dismissed. If SeaWorld wants to do something substantial, significant, and educational, ask them to join in the effort to capture the minds, hearts and supportive dollars from the public by returning captive orcas and dolphins to their home habitat.

The award-winning documentary Keiko: The Untold Story of the Star of 'Free Willy' brings you first-hand accounts of those directly in charge of Keiko's care with the actual footage of how Keiko, the most unlikely candidate for such a project:

• Thrived in his post-captivity period for more than five years,
• Mixed it up with wild orcas and manifested physical signs of attempts to mate,
• Left his trainers, followed a wild pod, and traveled on his own from Iceland to Norway, having fed himself for over six weeks and arriving as a fat, well-fed whale,
• Gained over 3,000lbs. during his rehabilitation
• Finally became the second longest-lived male captive orca in history at the time of his death, and the only captive orca to be returned to his natural habitat with the successful use of a sea pen.

Watch this important documentary and help us inform the public that a captive orca has been successfully returned to his natural habitat and his name was Keiko. There is so much to learn from what was done on his behalf by your organization.

Best Regards,
Theresa Demarest/Filmmaker