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Keiko facts


Keiko,the famous killer whale from the movie "Free Willy," died on Friday December 12, 2003 in the Taknes fjord in Norway. Officials believe the cause of death was pneumonia. At the estimated age of 27, Keiko was old for an orca in captivity. Wild orca live an average of 35 years.
Keiko's name means "Lucky One" in Japanese. The killer whale was captured in Iceland in 1979 when he was a young calf and sold to the marine park industry, spending most of his life in amusement parks in Canada and Mexico.

In the 1990s, Keiko stared in three "Free Willy" movies and was later found ailing in a Mexico City aquarium. The drive to save Keiko began and he was rehabilitated at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, then airlifted to Iceland in 1998.

While in Iceland, he was prepped for life in the wild, learning the necessary skills to survive. Keiko was released in July 2002, but swam to Norway, turning up in Taknes Bay where he chose to make his home.

Keiko - star of the Free Willy films - swam from the Skaalvik fjord, where he has been since September, to the quieter Taknes Bay on Thursday.

He turned up in Norway after his release from an Icelandic pen 1400 kms (870 miles) away in mid-July.

And he's been a huge hit with the locals ever since. He loves human company after having spent so much time in captivity.

But his trainer and whale experts have been hunting for a new home for the whale for weeks - somewhere not so full of whale-spotters.

Taknes Bay is ice-free and has loads of fish for Keiko to feast on. Plus there's a chance to meet other orcas on their migration routes.