Keiko, the Orca in the Free Willy trilogy, died at age 27 this Friday. “Since Wednesday he had become letargic and didn’t accept food. We suspect he died from some kind of pneumomnia”, said Dane Richards, from the team that took care of Keiko in the gulf of Taknes, on the west coast of Norway. Keiko had chosen to live in there after being freed.
Keiko was captured in 1979 and spent most of his life in acquatic theme parks. In the 90’s he starred a trilogy in which he played the role of Free Willy, an orca who is saved from captivity by his human friend Jesse. After the third movie there was a great effort to take him back to his wild state. He was transported back to his homewaters in Iceland in a cargo plane from the US Air Force. From there he swam 1400 Km (almost 1000 miles) untill he finally stopped in a Fiord in Norway.
Keiko never broke the link he had developed with humans and depended on them for his feeding, which consisted on almost 80 lbs. of fish daily. Up to 20 people worked on his rehab in a special “on-sea pool”, but Keiko never wanted to go back to the company of other orcas.
Nobody knows what will be done with the corpse. David Philipps, founder and president of the Free Willy Foundation, wishes to place Keiko’s skeleton in an exhibition.
-Ren, reporter wannabe, is wearing black for the next two days in honor to Keiko.
I think it was pretty stupid trying to bring him back to the wild again. Once an animal has gotten used to humans and being fed and taken care of by them, why should it want to try and return to the wild and have to do everything by itself? Not only that, but others of its kind is likely to shun away.