We were sad to hear of the death of Keiko on the 12th December, 2003 of pneumonia. Keiko, aged 27, spent most of his life in captivity, but after appearances in the Free Willy films, his plight was highlighted and led to a campaign for his freedom.
Eventually he was taken to Iceland where he was released into the wild. He swam to Norway where he had shown signs of having learnt techniques that Orcas use in the wild, like side breach jumps that are meant to stun fish. He also delighted the residents of the coastal fjord where he made his new home and entertained many visitors. Norway is one of the last bastions of the pro-whaling movement but it seems that during the last year of his life Keiko had a big impact on public consciousness there as regards the rights and wrongs of hunting whales.
Keiko seemed to be healthy but on Thursday 11th December he was showing signs of lethargy and loss of appetite. Nothing could be done and he died on Friday.
Despite this sad ending, the campaign for his freedom was a success, in that it highlighted the sins of the cetacean captivity industry, which, unfortunately still holds 48 orcas captive around the world.