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The story of Keiko.
Keiko was born 1977 or
He was captured by a fishing boat in 1979 and held in an Icelandic aquarium for four years.
In 1982 Marineland in
Marineland sells Keiko in 1985 to Reino Aventura, an amusement park in Mexico City, for $350,000.
In 1992 Warner Bros. Studios begins filming the movie "Free Willy" on location in
The movie “Free Willy” is a hit at the theatres, especially with millions of school children around the world. The coverage of Keiko`s unacceptable living conditions in Mexico City, prompts the movie studio, the park and animal protection advocates to find Keiko a new home.
In 1994 Earth Island Institute, an environmental advocacy group for marine wildlife begins the search for a location where Keiko can be brought back to health and trained for potential release to the wild.
The Free Willy Foundation is formed in November with a $4 million donation from Warner Bros., and an anonymous donor.
In 1995 The
United Parcel Service sponsors in 1996 the airlifting of Keiko to the aquarium on January 7.
Keiko gains more than
Keiko is featured on the cover of Life Magazine and in a popular documentary, The Free Willy Story, on the Discovery Channel. More than 2 million visitors come to see Keiko in
Keiko's staff begins introducing him to live fish in an effort to teach him to hunt for food.
His skin lesions have all disappeared and he is determined to be in excellent health.
He catches and eats his first live fish in August.
By June, Keiko weighs
After an intensive search and negotiations with foreign governments the decision is made to reintroduce Keiko to the wild in
On September 9, Keiko is lifted from his tank and transported by a
During his first full year back in his native Icelandic waters, Keiko, now under the day-to-day care of the Ocean Futures Society, continues training to prepare him for his potential reintroduction to the wild.
An essential component of his program is moving his attention from above to below the surface of the water. In doing so, Keiko depends less on his human caretakers and develops greater interest in his natural environment.
On his first day out of the netted bay pen in the summer of 2002, Keiko leaves the tracking boat and begins spending considerable time in the company of whales. He is monitored in and around groups of wild whales for the next three weeks.
He then begins an epic journey covering nearly
The first observations of Keiko in
His lead veterinarian, and a variety of other orca scientists, comes to the conclusion that Keiko has successfully fed himself in the wild, a major milestone in his journey to the wild.
Keiko follows a fishing boat inside a Norwegian fjord in the Halsa Community.
The Community is on the West coast of Norwaw about 200km South of
Thousand of visitors come to see the friendly whale. The Project staff work closely with the Norwegian government to put in place regulations to keep people from swimming with, feeding or getting too close to Keiko.
Meanwhile, the Craig McCaw Foundation and Ocean Futures Society turn over the management of the project to the Free Willy Keiko Foundation and the Humane Society of the
In December Keiko is walked to the Taknes bay staff continues to work with and feed Keiko.
The Norwegian government gives its full support to the continued effort to give Keiko the chance to return to the wild.
December 12, 2003 -- The Free Willy Keiko Foundation and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) reported that Keiko, the orca whale, died today in the Taknes fjord, Norway, in the company of staff members who have been caring for him there.
Keiko's veterinarian believes that acute pneumonia is the most likely cause of death, though he also cited that Keiko was the second oldest male orca whale ever to have been in captivity.
Keiko inspired millions of children to get involved in following his amazing odyssey and helping other whales. Keiko's journey also inspired a massive educational effort around the world and formed the basis for several scientific studies.
Thousands of people travelled to
There is a memorial site for Keiko set up by the locals in
All photos are from Keiko Norge.