Returning Keiko to his Ocean Home


Earth Island Institute's Campaign to Free Keiko, Star of "Free Willy"

» Keiko Progresses to Freedom in Iceland, by Mark Berman

The dream of returning the orca whale, Keiko to his home waters is coming true. Nearly five years have passed since Keiko first captured the world's attention by starring in the "Free Willy" feature movies. In 1994, Earth Island Institute created the Free Willy/Keiko Foundation with the mission to rescue, rehabilitate, and potentially release Keiko and other marine mammals.


Thousands of school children made donations to help save Keiko. Sponsorship also came from the Craig McCaw Foundation, Humane Society of the US, Warner Bros. and many other companies, scientists, and concerned individuals.

After lots of hard work and preparation, Keiko was moved in January, 1996 from his home at Reino Aventura in Mexico City to a new state-of-the-art rehabilitation facility at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon. On September 9, 1998, the next chapter of the Keiko story came true. Keiko was airlifted by the US Air Force to a new sea pen off of the tiny volcanic Westman Islands of Iceland. After nearly 20 years in captivity, Keiko was able to see the sights and hear the sounds of the Icelandic waters of his birth!

Keiko's return to Iceland continues the amazing story. 1999 will provide crucial information as to whether Keiko can be successfully integrated back into the wild orca population. His arrival is also spurring a dramatic increase in scientific research on wild orcas and the Icelandic marine environment. Many people in Iceland are now excited to welcome Keiko back. There is little doubt that it will lead to a new understanding in Iceland of the value of watching whales, studying them, and protecting them. Doing the right thing for Keiko is already helping the world's whales through raising public awareness regarding the plight of those in the wild and held captive.

Keiko's Iceland home

International Marine Mammal Project
300 Broadway, suite 28    San Francisco, CA  94133
or fax 415/788-7324

Keiko's launch

KEIKO UPDATES: Want the latest on Keiko's progress? Click here to visit, the new official home website of Keiko!