Thursday, March 18, 2010

'Free Willy 4' | Sammy Freed! | 'Free Tilly' Tilikunundrum

Free Tilly: Escape from SeaWorld

Tilly and trainer Dawn Brancheau

The timing of the release of Free Willy 4 and the tragic death of Tilikum or "Tilly's" trainer Dawn Brancheau at Sea World on February 24th, 2010 is eerie.

Jean-Michel Cousteau comments on the tragedy onwhen trainer Dawn Brancheau was dragged into the water and killed by Tilikum, an orca at Sea World’s Orlando park. This is the third death associated with Tilikum while in captivity.

"The tragic death of the trainer suggests that maybe we have outgrown the need to keep such wild, enormous, complex, intelligent and free-ranging animals in captivity, where their behavior is not only unnatural, it can become pathological." – Jean-Michel Cousteau

“...building a tank the size of Rhode Island wouldn’t be large enough for a six-ton male such as Tilikum, an animal capable of swimming 100 miles in a day.” - Whale Expert

The trainer who died last month in an attack by Tilikum (aka "Tilly") would be alive today if SeaWorld had heeded animal rights advocates’ advice to transfer all its dolphins—including orcas—to transitional coastal sanctuaries and to stop confining oceangoing mammals to an enclosure that to them is like a bathtub.

The trainer who died last month will not be the last victim as long as these animals remain frustrated by their cruel captivity. Orcas are intelligent predators who work cooperatively in search of food. They share intricate relationships and swim for as many as 100 miles every day. At SeaWorld, orcas are forced to perform circus tricks for food; swim endless circles in small, barren concrete tanks; and live far short of the 60-year maximum life span that orcas enjoy in the wild. In fact, 21 orcas died in U.S. SeaWorld facilities between 1986 and 2008—and not one died of old age.

A growing number of global demonstrations are being staged to facilitate Tilly's release. Here are two noteworthy events.

New Yorker Edda Ness organized a Demonstration to "Free Tilly" today. Local NY activists assembled outside of the Blackstone Group's offices to protest the captivity of marine mammals.

Brian Feldman will endure 18 hours of confinement in a stranger’s bathtub, one hour for each year* Tilikum the orca has been held captive in a space of comparative size at SeaWorld® Orlando. *since January 9, 1992. The event takes place on Saturday, March 27, 2010 from 6am-11:59pm (18 hours) at SeaHouse® Orlando, 1132 Edgewater Court in Orlando Florida.

This is not on SeaWorld® property. It is a private residence near Downtown Orlando. You can observe this event for free, live in its entirety, online at

For more information visit the Tilikunundrum FaceBook Event page.

Free Sammy: Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah Aquarium

Sammy the whale shark freed in Dubai

Sammy, the whale shark that had been held in captivity in the Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah aquarium for the past eighteen months, is freed.

The release comes almost a year after a popular Gulf News led campaign had thousands of Dubai residents calling for the hotel to release Sammy. The campaign involved badges, bumper stickers, jingles and a Facebook group that attracted several thousand members.

Atlantis issued a press release stating that the mammal had already been released.

"After several months of planning, Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai has returned a female whale shark to the waters of the Arabian Gulf from where she was rescued. The Atlantis Fish Husbandry Team utilised their experience and skill to save the animal in compliance with all CITIES regulations."

For more information on Sammy the whale shark visit

BINDI IRWIN as Kirra Cooper with Willy
"Free Willy: Escape From Pirates Cove."
Photo credit: Joe Alblas

Real life events often inspire movies that move people to tears and action like the Oscar® winning documentary The Cove. Free Willy 4 is a conservation movie with a message for the entire family.

Warner Home Video's Free Willy: Escape from Pirates Cove stars Bindi Irwin, Beau Bridges, Mike Falkow, Bongolethu Mbutuma, Siyabulela Ramb. Also known as "Free Willy: South Africa" and "Free Willy 4," the film is helmed by Will Geiger from the screenplay by Keith Walker, Cindy McCreery and Geiger. Fans of the Free Willy series will cheer this exciting family film about a baby orca who needs a friend and a girl who finds the courage to help him.


Eleven-year-old Kirra (Bindi Irwin) has a great love for all animals as the daughter of a widowed zoo veterinarian in Australia. But when her father is injured and must be hospitalized for several months, Kirra is forced to go stay with her estranged grandfather, Gus (Beau Bridges), in South Africa. Kirra doesn't want to leave her father's side, especially to stay with a grandfather she barely knows in a strange country. Arriving in South Africa, Kirra is even more disheartened to discover that Gus is the owner of a dilapidated seaside theme park, which is quickly losing its few customers to rival park owner, Rolf (Stephen Jennings).

Gus's business is given a miraculous boost, though, when a fierce storm traps a baby orca in his lagoon, turning his park into the area's main attraction. The growing orca, which Kira names Willy, has an inhibited sense of echolocation--the process by which whales hunt and navigate their ocean home--making his survival in the wild apart from his pod impossible. But Kirra also realizes that the orca will outgrow the lagoon very quickly. Gus thinks his only choice is to sell Willy to Rolf's successful park, where the orca will be safe...but forever captive.

With time running out before Rolf claims him, Kirra must not only locate Willy's pod, but also find a way to teach the young whale to survive and be free in the open sea.

Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on March 23, 2010, Free Willy: Escape from Pirate's Cove has been rated PG for mild thematic elements. Visit the official site for more

* * *

No comments: