(Keiko Is the Orca Whale Who Starred in the Movie "Free Willy")
>Keiko Needs Our Help! - Elgin, OR (Internet Wire) - Mar 13, 2003
Do you (along with thousands of other people) know in your heart that after four and a half years of trying to return Keiko to the wild, that it is now time to bring him to a safe place where he can be taken care of and again be with people?
At last, there is a way to let the organizations responsible for Keiko know that there is growing public support for this idea. Bonnie Norton (who says, in general she does not support keeping wild animals in captivity) has organized an International Campaign on the Internet to advocate for Keiko. Norton said, "I'm just one person trying to do what is right for this animal."
Norton learned to communicate with animals in 1997. While visiting Keiko at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Keiko told her that he did not want to be set free and he would continue to behave in ways to discourage them from letting him go because he would rather be with his human friends. Her communications with Keiko are documented by several televised news interviews in 1998.
Keiko was flown to Iceland in September 1998, and for four years continued to return from his ocean swims to be with his caretakers. Early August 2002 reports were that Keiko was finally free and thriving in the ocean. On August 8, 2002, during a communication with Keiko (posted on her web site August 26, 2002), Keiko said, "If the people won't come to me, I will go to the people."
On Monday, September 2, 2002, Keiko surprised everyone by swimming over eight hundred miles to a fjord in Norway where children got in the water and swam with him. In November 2002, Keiko was lead by boat to an isolated fjord with the intention of keeping him away from people and continuing his reintroduction program. Then, just last month, Keiko swam to a fjord that freezes in the winter and became trapped under the ice. Fortunately, he was able to break through and sustained only minor injuries. Norton says, according to his communications, Keiko was not exploring inland fjords looking for other whales, he deliberately returned to the same fjord looking for people.
Jeff Foster (Keiko's trainer before and during Keiko's reintroduction program in Iceland) said, "Keiko has made a choice. He wants to be with people." Some who originally supported freeing Keiko now say that if Keiko dies because others insist he should be free that they, along with many others, will be outraged at the individuals and organizations responsible.
A possible solution for everyone involved is to take Keiko to a bay or fjord that doesn't freeze where the following could be built: A pier leading to Keiko's home, where people could walk down a flight of stairs bringing them under the water line. The area below would be enclosed with glass so Keiko could swim up to the people and still enjoy swimming free. The facility might also include shops, restaurants, etc.
The following are excerpts from communications conducted in July and August 2001 by three professional Animal Communicators who asked Keiko the same "scripted" questions. All communications with Keiko were completed prior to disclosing the results to each other.
1) HOW ARE YOU DOING?
Bonnie Norton: I am better with the warmer water (summer vs. winter). I enjoy swimming and playing with my people. They are such a delight.
Mary Getten: I am fine, but very lonely. Physically I am good in this sea pen, but I miss the interaction, excitement and all the people. I am sad and my heart is heavy. I don't want to be here in this isolated place. I don't want to swim away and live by myself.
Teresa Wagner: He likes the air today and the coolness. His body feels good today. He thoroughly enjoys the physical sensation of being in the ocean. He loves bringing joy to humans. He is concerned if he lives completely in the ocean that he would not have a job. His purpose is so meaningful to him when he sees a human open their heart in his presence.
2) HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO TAKE CARE OF YOU?
Bonnie Norton: I love them greatly. They are very good to me. I enjoy my time with them.
Mary Getten: I love these people very much, but they don't understand me. They are unhappy and frustrated that I have not left. They want me to be free, but I am afraid. I don't know how to survive. I am afraid of the other whales. They don't want me to be with them. I don't belong in the sea anymore. I'm "out of my element" here. These people also cannot provide me with the attention and stimulation that I desire. They feel I have let them down, but they never did understand me. I cannot do what they ask.
Teresa Wagner: He loves his people. "They care about me. They want the best for me. They worry about me. I wish I could help them more." He wants to be touched. He misses being touched. He doesn't understand why they don't touch him.
Theresa explains what they (his caretakers) are trying to do: "I know. I hear them speak. I know what they're trying to do. They are trying to help me. They do what they feel is best for me. I know they aren't rejecting me. They're trying to help. I don't want to leave them." He is very tolerant, very comfortable and very grateful with them. He is incredibly patient. He understands more of what they are doing than they understand him. They love him, but sometimes they only look at behavior and science. They aren't looking at his heart.
Regarding his trainers/caretakers: When there is more than one present, Keiko shows a picture of everyone being busy and what could be described as "businesslike." Yet, he says, "They really, really love me and many times when one of them is alone with me," he/she looks at him, feels his love and sends him their love. They open their hearts for him and show their love and affection for him.
3) HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT ALL THE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO LOVE YOU?
Bonnie Norton: There are many lessons to be learned. Love and kindness.
Mary Getten: I would like to see them. I have so much to give to the people and here I can do nothing. My heart is wasting away. I wish to give my love to the people.
Teresa Wagner: That is his whole reason for being. His whole reason for being is the joy he sees when they are with him.
4) HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT SWIMMING OFF AND LIVING IN THE OCEAN AND NOT HAVING CONTACT WITH THE PEOPLE WHO TAKE CARE OF YOU?
Bonnie Norton: Scary. I will not leave them. I need their love and support. I am not capable of doing it on my own. I can only try to please them, but am unable to do it on my own.
Mary Getten: I love my people, but they cannot provide what I need. I need contact with many people. I want to show them who I am. I am Keiko, the CAPTIVE whale. That is my whole identity. That is my mission and purpose. I am here to help people, to open their hearts. I cannot do this from an isolated sea pen. I was not meant to be returned to the sea.
Teresa Wagner: Hesitation: To stay near people. That's his purpose - to be with people. On a mental level, he is very aware of what they are trying to do. He wants to be really clear that he wants to stay by his people not because he is afraid or unable to live with other whales in the ocean, but because it is his choice. This is not a failed rehab!
5) IF YOU COULD LIVE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO LIVE? PLEASE DESCRIBE WHAT YOUR LIFE WOULD LOOK LIKE IF YOU COULD DO WHATEVER YOU WANT.
Bonnie Norton: I would want to be with people. I especially enjoy interacting with them and watching them react to me. It is really fascinating to watch them as they watch me. We learn from each other. That is how it should be. We should all learn from each other and admire our differences not divide because of them. We can all learn that way.
Mary Getten: I do not want to live in the wild. I don't know how to do that. I want to go back to a tank where I can interact with people. That is my home. I love the people and they love me. This life here has been lonely and foreign. I am sad and scared. Please take me back to Oregon where I was happy. I have so much to teach people, so many hearts to open. They can see my heart and love and be transformed.
Here I can do nothing. I do not want to stay in a pen in the sea. Bring me back to the people. This sea pen was never my desire and I will not swim free.
Teresa Wagner: It doesn't matter, the place on earth. He wants to have people every day to bring joy to. Also, showed many times that he likes to feel like he's in the sea (or bay). Doesn't want a little tank again. He enjoys his physical senses: the ocean water, air and waves.
6) IF HE CHOOSES TO "BE WITH PEOPLE" (AS IN CAPTIVITY), HOW WOULD YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING CONFINED IN A SMALL ENCLOSURE AFTER HAVING LIVED IN THE OCEAN?
Bonnie Norton: The ocean has been fun for me to play. I have enjoyed my time playing. I also have more important work to do. It is educating people to the reality of life.
Mary Getten: This is fine. I would rather have less space and more contact with people. That is my purpose. A large tank is ideal, such as the one I had in Oregon. I will miss the space, but my heart will be full with the people. That will more than make up for it.
Teresa Wagner: The difference in life now versus the small tank is that he doesn't see as many people, and the intensity of as many people. He really, really wants both! If he ever has to make a choice, it would be to be with people.
7) IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SAY?
Bonnie Norton: Thank you and my people for all they have done to keep/make me happy. All I ask for is love, kindness and understanding.
Mary Getten: I was not the correct choice for this experiment. I never wanted to go to Iceland. I wanted to stay in Oregon with my friends. This may be a good idea for another whale, but not for me. This is what I am here for. I hope that people will understand that we whales are not all alike. What you think is good, may not work for us. We are individuals and must be considered that way. You may think that I am strange for not wanting to be free, but it is not what I want. I want to be with the people.
Teresa Wagner: "I miss the children. They talk to me this way. They don't forget. I want you to know that though I don't know what's ahead of me, that if I die today I would die very happy. Not many beings have had such joy, awe and love of another species. I very much appreciate what has been done for me and all my life experiences. Remember that no matter what happens, my life has been more fulfilling than I ever knew it could be. I came to this life to have contact with people but I never knew it would be as many or so far-reaching. I want you, Bonnie, not to feel burdened or responsible. Try to feel what you do for me with love, just love. Know that if the others don't listen this time, maybe they will later."
Teresa Wagner also asked the following question:
SOME PEOPLE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE EFFECT OF LOW FREQUENCY ACTIVE SONAR. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT?
He has not personally experienced it. "Whales talk all around the world, you know. Whales talk all around the world. The whales know about this crisis. The whales here where I am have not been harmed. The whales in other oceans and in other parts of oceans have been harmed horribly, and they would rather die than live with it. The story is that when this sound occurs, it's like going crazy. Nothing else can be sent or received."
Bonnie Norton is a professional Animal Communicator who offers consultations with animals. She also gives Presentations and teaches Workshops. She has been interviewed by a number of newspapers and radio stations, Portland's "AM Northwest," and five televised news programs.
Mary Getten has been a professional Animal Communicator for six years. She is also the author of "The Orca Pocket Guide" and has spent 10 years as a marine naturalist in the San Juan Islands of Washington state. Mary is personally acquainted with the 78 members of the Southern Resident Community of orcas and has communicated extensively with several whales in J pod. She was also a coordinator of the San Juan County Marine Mammal Stranding Network and on staff at Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center for almost a decade. www.MaryGetten.com
Teresa Wagner has been a professional Animal Communicator for ten years and has a master's degree in Counseling. She facilitates trips for people to communicate and interact with humpback whales (at the whales' discretion) in the isolated waters of Silver Banks every year in March. For information on whaling trips contact www.animalsinourhearts.com/whales. She is active in animal welfare organizations and served a term as Chairperson of the SPCA of Monterey County Wildlife Auxiliary in Monterey, California. For many years she served as a volunteer for an American Cetacean Society marine mammal rescue group and on the board of a wildlife rehabilitation center. She is also author of the audiobook Legacies of Love, A Gentle Guide to Healing From the Loss of Your Animal Loved One.
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