Asked Questions about Keiko
How big is Keiko?
Keiko is about 24 feet long and weighs approximately 11,500 pounds. He
has gained more than 2,000 pounds during our project's efforts.
How old is Keiko, and how long do wild orcas live?
Keiko is 25 or 26 years old. Wild male orcas are believed to live from
35 to 50 years. Wild female orca whales are thought to live up to 80 years
Will his dorsal fin ever straighten out?
Though his fin has straightened to some degree as Keiko's health and conditioning
have improved, it will never fully straighten. However, it is not a totally
unusual condition and has been observed in wild whales. It does not hamper
his swimming or social behavior.
What is the Project doing to help Keiko?
Our first task was to rescue Keiko from the tank in Mexico City and bring
him to a place where he could be returned to health. Then we began re-teaching
him the skills necessary to survive in the wild. Our current efforts involve
feeding Keiko in Norway and preparing him for reintroduction back into
the company of whales.
Can Keiko really make it in the wild?
We are extremely encouraged by Keiko's progress. During the summer of
2002 Keiko spent at least a month in and around groups of wild orcas and
then traveled approximately 1000 miles from Iceland to the Norwegian coast.
Based on documented diving behavior and his healthly and robust condition
on arrival in Norway, Keiko's veterinarian and leading orca scientists
have concluded that there is strong evidence that he successfully fed
himself in the wild. Keiko has also shown an increasing comfortability
with wild whales. These breakthroughs give us confidence that Keiko continues
to adapt to the wild.
What if Keiko does not join a pod of wild orcas?
Keiko's ability to feed himself in the wild is more important that traveling
with wild whales. We believe Keiko will have many future opportunities
to join whales. However, the choice rests with Keiko. Should he not choose
to remain with wild whales, we remain committed to taking care of Keiko
in his native North Atlantic waters.
Can Keiko ever be free?
Right now, for the first time ever, Keiko is in an open fjord without
nets or pens. He is free to choose whether to stay or go. Many people
have doubted Keiko's progress at every stage. Some people felt he would
not survive the move from Mexico City to Oregon, or that his skin condition
would never heal, or that he would never learn to eat live fish or socialize
with wild whales. At each stage Keiko has proved his naysayers wrong.
We are optimistic that Keiko has learned the skills necessary to be a
wild whale, and we will continue to give him the chance to do that.
Is Keiko in Danger in Norway?
The Norwegian government has assured us that Keiko will not be harmed.
After initial problems with people swimming with and approaching too close
to Keiko in Norway, restrictions were implemented to give Keiko the space
he needs to continue his progress.
The Norwegian public has become extremely enamored with Keiko. Thousands
have traveled just to see him in the Halsa community.
We continue to be heartened by the strong community and governmental
support for continuing Keiko's amazing journey.
Should Keiko be moved back into captivity?
We strongly oppose this belief. Keiko is healthy and making great progress.
By contrast, captivity continues to prove deadly for orcas. 21 have died
in marine parks since Keiko's move from Mexico. Many of them were younger
than Keiko. Unlike the shortened and depressed lives of orcas kept in
small tanks performing tricks, Keiko has returned to the ocean and to
the company of wild whales.