Keiko, star of the movie “Free Willy,” became the center of a real-life drama when the public discovered his poor living conditions and clamored for his release from captivity. When the killer whale’s owners in Mexico City donated him to the Free Willy/Keiko Foundation in 1996, it was UPS that transported him to a temporary home in the Oregon Aquarium. The plane carrying the 42,000 pounds of cargo had to make three stops to refuel before reaching its destination.
Keiko spent two years being nursed back to health and taught to live in the wild. He was eventually set free off the coast of Iceland. Sadly, Keiko died in 2003, a decade after appearing in “Free Willy.” He had been living off Norway.