Orca Pod Wiki

Credit: Free Willy

Keiko was a 25 year old male orca who was captured in Iceland in November 1979. He was released on July 15, 2002 and passed away on December 12, 2003.

When Keiko was captured, he was originally named Siggi Bent Fin. He was soon moved to Hafnarfjordur Aquarium, where he received the name Kago. He was soon purchased by Marineland Ontario. Here he met several other whales. Unfortunately, Keiko was picked on by dominant females. In 1985, he was sold to Reino Adventura where he earned his famous name, Keiko. Keiko was the only orca at the park, but he got along well with the dolphins living there. He was an excellent performer and was very close to his trainers. He often participated in waterworks. 

Unfortunately, Keiko's living environment was not as well. His tank was too warm for an orca and he often suffered from papillomavirus. In 1993, Keiko became the star of the movie Free Willy. As his health became worse, the Oregon Coast Aquarium built a new and much larger tank for Keiko to rehabilitate in. He arrived on January 7, 1996. The goal was to eventually get him healthy and train him to live in the wild. His health improved and it was decided to move him to a seapen in September 1998 in Iceland. 

While living in the seapen, Keiko was eventually allowed to venture out of the seapen following a boat. He was equipped with a tracking device in case the boaters were unable to see him. On July 15, 2002, Keiko was released from the seapen where he went off on his own for the next few weeks. Keiko came into contact with many people over the time he was in Norway. They often fed him and he even allowed them to swim with him. It got to the point that the government had to intervene because it was happening to often. While he was on his own, he would, at times, socialize with other whales, though he never joined a pod. Keiko gained and lost weight during the time he was on his own. He also suffered injuries to his melon from ice flows he encountered, not knowing where to find a breathing hole. In December 2003, Keiko became ill. On December 12, 2003, Keiko's body was found on a beach in Taknes, Norway. He beached himself and had passed away from acute pneumonia.




Age at Capture-Approximately 2

Place of Capture-Medallandsbugt, Iceland

Date of Release-7/15/02

Place of Release-Iceland

Date of Death-12/12/03

Place of Death-Taknes Bay, Norway

Cause of Death-Acute Pneumonia


  • Unknown

Origin of Keiko

  • Japanese for "Lucky One"
  • Kago was Icelandic for "Little Boy"

Also known as

  • Siggi Bent Fin
  • Kago
  • Kego


  • 100% Icelandic

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