Menu ☰

The Tank Where Keiko Was Kept Is Being Shut Down

| Laura Bridgeman
Topics: Captivity Industry, Dolphin and Whale Trade, Dolphins, Keiko, Orcas

On August 1, 2017, the Mexico City Congress passed legislation to put an end to the commercial use and abuse of dolphins in captivity.

The bill, which is under the Law of Protection of Animals, prohibits using cetaceans for entertainment, scientific research or therapy for any reason, and applies to facilities within the jurisdiction of Mexico City.

The campaign was spearheaded by Yolanda Alaniz and the local group Comarino Mexico.  Ms. Alaniz attended the plenary and held a press conference with the President of the Environment Commission, Xavier López Adame, who was the proponent of the initiative.

“All parties, from the right, from strong left voted just as one. Deputies recognized dolphins as sentient beings who suffer living in concrete tanks,” said Alaniz of the plenary. “Politics spoke with ethics, and marked a new way to follow for our country, and we will follow this path."

The bill will directly affect Six Flags, formally known as Reino Aventura, the facility where Keiko was essentially left to rot after the filming of “Free Willy” was finished. Keiko suffered greatly at Six Flags, losing weight and developing a skin disease as he languished in the overly warm and shallow water.

While Keiko was moved out of the tiny pools at Reino Aventura, the dolphins there were not so lucky.  David Phillips recalls Reino very well from his many trips there.

“It was an inhumane place for cetaceans,” Phillips, Executive Director of Earth Island Institute and founder of the Free Willy/Keiko Foundation, stated.  “They barely had room to swim at all, and the conditions were unhealthy.  I wish we could have taken the smaller dolphins with us when we airlifted Keiko out, and I am excited to see captivity there finally come to an end.”

“The facility of Six Flags, the former Reino Aventura, will shut the door,” said Alaniz. “The Mexico City Congress made justice not only for dolphins, but for Keiko the orca whom was held in Reino Aventura. We feel happy of this small-great step for the well being of dolphins.” 

Dolphin Discovery, the Mexican company that owns Six Flags, has at least 24 dolphin captivity facilities internationally. While this bill will only affect their Mexico City facility, it sends a strong message that captive cetacean industry is in increasingly hot water. Six Flags has been given six months in order to find retirement homes for its dolphins.



Ms. Alaniz and Comarino are asking people to write to those involved in passing the bill in order to express thanks and congratulations for making the right decision, and to encourage them to remain a united front against this cruel industry.  


Dip. Antonio Xavier López Adame

Coordinador Parlamentario del Partido Verde Ecologista de México


Dip. César Arnulfo Cravioto Romero

Coordinador Parlamentario del Partido Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional


Dip. Jesús Armando López Velarde Campa

Coordinador Parlamentario del Partido Movimiento Ciudadano


Dip. Jorge Romero Herrera

Coordinador Parlamentario del Partido Acción Nacional


Dip. Leonel Luna Estrada

Coordinador Parlamentario del Partido de la Revolución Democrática


Dip. Israel Betanzos Cortés

Coordinador Parlamentario del Partido Revolucionario Institucional 


Dip. Carlos Alfonso Candelaria López

Coordinador Parlamentario del Partido Encuentro Social 


Dip. Juan Gabriel Corchado Acevedo

Coordinador Coalición Parlamentaria


With copy to:


Photo by Martin Lewison.