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KEIKO - Free Willy

Keiko, which means 'Lucky one' in Japanese, was the star of three 'Free Willy' films in the 1990's . A Killer whale, he measured 35 feet long and weighed 6 tons. Keiko was first captured in Iceland in 1979. By 1985 Keiko was living in an amusement park in Mexico City. A Hollywood film about a captive killer whale being returned to the wild was made in 1993 and Keiko was chosen to star in it. The film was a major success worldwide but the public was upset to learn that its star led a far from idyllic existance and was not in the best of health due to his cramped home. The publicity led to donations flooding in and a foundation 'Free Willy Keiko foundation' was formed. On 7th January 1996, weighing 3,500kg, Keiko was transferred to a new home in Oregan. Over the next few years he put on one ton in weight. On the 9th September 1998 work began to release Keiko. But although he had supervised "walks" in the wild, his handlers still cared and fed him. Keiko absconded during one of these walks and ended up 870 miles away in the Norway Fjords. He eventually died from pneumonia in Taknes Bay, Norway at the age of 27 years.

Breed:Killer Whale

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