The call of the wild
The Keiko dilemma fascinates me. There has been so much money spent on this killer whale because of the public's need to anthropomorphize him. A combination of the romantic "noble savage" and the desire to return to the original, unspoiled and happy state of humanity was transferred to animals with Jack London's The Call of the Wild. Free Willy is all about this intense desire to return to the natural state of bliss. Since the human race can't return to this state of blessed innocence, they pay to give Willy what they think he wants. And so the money which might have educated and bought safe homes and futures for thousands of children, or supported research on the environment of the oceans of the world and ensured that the wild and free whales have a chance to remain so, is spent on living out this romantic dream of humans - through a whale. It's only suitable that the orca is such an efficient predator.