Dave Phillips, founder of the Free Willy Keiko Foundation, talks to reporters moments before Keiko's departure from Newport in this September 9, 1998 file photo. Governments in rich nations sometimes write virtual blank cheques to protect exotic animals -- even as thousands of less glamorous creatures and plants slide silently into oblivion. In one of the most costly examples, animal lovers paid $20 million to retrain Keiko the killer whale, star of the "Free Willy" movies, for life in the wild. Keiko died of pneumonia in a Norwegian fjord in 2003, 18 months after he was freed. To match feature Environment-Species. REUTERS/Stringer/Files | Location: NEWPORT, United States.
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