Frequently 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 old.

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.



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