Killer whale star dies


Keiko, the killer whale who starred in the 1993 film Free Willy, died last Friday from pneumonia in Taknes Bay, Norway.

His death came as a surprise to his handlers.

“He’d been in excellent health, so it was kind of a shock,” said Dave Phillips, of the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation.

Keiko, which means “Lucky One” in Japanese, was 27, the oldest male killer whale in captivity.

Sent from the Oregon Aquarium to Iceland in 1998, Keiko swam to “freedom” in July 2002. The whale travelled across the North Atlantic, following fishing boats to the Norwegian village of Halsa in late August.

Said to be ready for the wild by handlers in Iceland, Keiko had allowed fans to pet him, and even swim on his back.

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