Famed Whale. Keiko gained fame for his roles in the films "Free Willy" (1993), "Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home" (1995), and "Free Willy 3: The Rescue" (1997). Keiko was captured near Iceland in 1979 and sold into the marine park industry. Keiko's stardom came from the three Free Willy films, in which a young boy befriends a captive killer whale and gets him to jump over a sea park wall to freedom. A $20-million venture to free Keiko was started in 1993, after he was found dying in a Mexico City, Mexico, aquarium. His name which means “Lucky One” in Japanese, was rehabilitated at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, then airlifted to Iceland in 1998. His handlers there prepared him for the wild, teaching him to catch live fish in an operation that cost $500,000, American a month. He was released from Iceland in July 2002, and ended up swimming straight for Norway on a 1,400-kilometre trek that seemed to be a search for companionship. He turned up near the village Halsa, Norway, in late August or early September 2002, and there he allowed fans to pet and play with him, even crawl on his back, becoming such an attraction animal-protection authorities imposed a ban on approaching him. Keiko died on December 12, 2003, after the sudden onset of pneumonia in the Taknes fjord in Norway, at the age of 27. (bio by: K)
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Keiko,You are the heart of the ocean buried deep in our souls. May your example of courage and friendship give us the deepest lessons of responsibility and accountability to all creatures that God entrusted to our care. -
Mira T. Reyes Added: Mar. 12, 2016
I was sad to hear of your passing years ago, I remember watching you when I was only little. Rest in peace. -
Kirsty Added: Feb. 10, 2016