| CNN WEB SITES:
Keiko arrives in Iceland
September 10, 1998
Web posted at: 6:34 a.m. EDT (1034 GMT)
WESTMAN ISLANDS, Iceland (CNN) -- Keiko, the 10,000-pound killer whale from the "Free Willy" movies, has arrived
in Iceland. He was transported there overnight from his
previous home in Oregon to be placed in a floating sea pen as
big as a football field.
The 21-foot orca was lifted out of his pen at the Oregon
Coast Aquarium Wednesday by a special crane and lowered into
a customized water-filled box. He was loaded onto an Air
Force C-17 Globemaster cargo plane, which landed at an
airport in the Westman Islands on Thursday morning.
Keiko will spend at least the next several months in the
250-foot-long, 100-foot-wide pen before trainers determine if
he can be released into the open sea. It's possible they'll
keep him in there for the rest of his life.
Keiko was captured nearly 20 years ago and has lived in
captivity ever since, having been moved from Iceland to
Canada to Mexico. In 1993, he gained international exposure
from the movie "Free Willy," the story of a boy who helps a
captured whale escape from an amusement park. The movie was
a surprise hit, and Keiko developed a large following,
especially among children.
A subsequent Life magazine article pointed out his health
problems and the inadequate facility in Mexico City, and a
search for a better home began. It resulted in his 1996 move
to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, where a special pool was built for
him. Since then, Keiko has learned how to eat live fish again
and has added about 2,000 pounds.
Earlier this year, Keiko was medically cleared and deemed
healthy enough for his move back to Iceland.