After the movie was released, it brought the living conditions of the star orca, Keiko (Willy) to the world's attention. His tank was too small, with too-warm chlorinated artificial salt water. Keiko suffered from a weakened immune system and a skin condition around his pectoral fins. There was a monumental effort to release Keiko. A custom tank was built in the Oregon Coast Aquarium and in 1996, the whale was flown from Mexico to Oregon. He recovered well, and was moved to a sea pen in 1998. In 2002, Keiko was released into the wild after spending 22 years in captivity.
When the film was broadcast with a Mexican dub in the United States, it was titled "Libren a Willy," which is grammatically incorrect. The correct Spanish title would have been "Liberen a Willy," or "Liberad a Willy" which is the title used in Spain.