Keiko the Orca

Keiko was born in the seas around Iceland either 1977 or 78.  He was captured as a baby in 1979, and held in an Icelandic aquarium until he was sold in 1982 to an aquarium in Canada.  Then in 1985 he was sold to Reino Adventura in Mexico City. 

In 1992, Keiko stars as Willy in the Movie "Fee Willy".  The movie comes out in 1993, and the Free Keiko movement begins as awareness dawns to the plight of Keiko in captivity.  1996 Keiko is taken to Oregon Coast Aquarium to heal, gain strength and prepare for living in the wild.
Keiko is transported in 1998, to a sea pen in Iceland to begin his transition to living free.  As Keiko learns to become more and more independent, he is fitted with tracking device and he is allowed out of the sea pen for occasional "walks" in 2000.  In 2001, Keiko begins spending longer periods away from the sea pen and interacts with wild orcas, spending increasing time with them into 2002 and finishing learning to feed himself.  Later in 2002, Keiko swims to Norway and lives free until late 2003 when he suddenly dies from pneumonia.

Keiko was successfully introduced into the wild and was able to live free in the sea for the rest of his life, instead of dying in a concrete tank.  While Keiko never found his family in Iceland, he was able, in the end, to live a rich life as an wild orca, something we hope all captive orcas will be able to do someday. 

Find our more about Keiko at and more details: Keiko's Story: The Timeline

When you watch the video "The Free Willy Story: Keiko's Journey Home", you'll see how cooperative Reino Aventura, the aquarium in Mexico City where Keiko was captive, was about working with The Keiko Project to do the right thing and free Keiko.  This is something that SeaWorld could learn a lot about, working to do the right thing for their captive orcas.  Instead, SeaWorld fights the issue and publishes statements like the ad they placed in 8 major newspapers on December 20th 2013, to fight the "Blackfish" Movement:  "SeaWorld: The Truth Is in Our Parks and People An Open Letter from SeaWorld's Animal Advocates"  You can read a rebuttal to SeaWorld:  "SeaWorld uses full-page advertisement: insult to both orca and human"

"The Free Willy Story:  Keiko's Journey Home"

KOMO 4 News (ABC Seattle)
"Keiko Dies in Norway" on 12/12/2003

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