Dr. Steven Brown, one of world leaders in Veterinary Science, and the caretaker for Keiko the Killer Whale (of “Free Willy” fame) has died at 62 from cancer. His dedication to animal care and sea life is exemplary in today’s society, and he will be sorely missed.
After Keiko was moved from a Mexico City Amusement Park, he spent two years at the Newport Aquarium on the Oregon Coast under Dr. Brown’s care. While Keiko was at the Aquarium, over two million visitors came through the park to see him. Dr. Brown had worked at the Aquarium since 1992 and was very excited to care for Keiko.
Dr. Brown’s wife Marian said in a statement in The Bulletin, “He considered it a real honor to work with Keiko. It was such a gift for Keiko to be at the aquarium.”
Respected Veterinarian Kate Freeman speaks to the value of work conducted by out-of-office vets like Dr. Brown. As she recently stated, “Most veterinarians conduct their work in offices, performing check-ups, administering vaccinations, healing wounds, etc. They eagerly await concerned pet owners to bring the animals in need through the door. However, this is not the case with every veterinarian. Some go out to various environments or locations to seek out the needy animals.”
Keiko the killer whale was eventually moved to Iceland where he was released and eventually died in the wild at the age of 26. However, people who loved him never forgot him.
“Keiko’s bond with people was obvious,” Brown said at a Newport memorial service in 2004 that drew 700 people. “The bond went both ways.” Keiko loved to perform for audiences and enjoyed human contact.
Dr. Brown will be remembered as one of world leaders in the veterinary sciences. Last year he was awarded one of the most prestigious awards a veterinarian can receive, for a bladder transplant surgery he performed on a sea otter.
However, Dr. Brown was not all high-minded; he could never say no to a patient regardless of size or stature. His wife recalls time when he would leave a family dinner to attend to calls about sick cats and dogs.
Dr. Steven Brown is survived by his wife and four children. His will be remembered as a dedicated member of the animal care community and a pioneer in the Veterinary Sciences.