Select Text Level:

On December 12, 2003, Keiko, one of the most famous killer whales in the world, died of pneumonia in a Norwegian fjord. He was 27 years old.
 
Keiko was the title character in Free Willy, a movie about a boy setting a captive whale free. Free Willy brought attention to the conditions of Keiko’s own captivity in a Mexico City, Mexico, amusement park. Keiko was captured in the North Atlantic Ocean as a calf. He grew up in aquariums in Iceland and Canada before being sold to the facility in Mexico. 
 
Many people and organizations advocated for Keiko’s return to the wild. Some marine biologists, however, were skeptical about the plan. They thought Keiko was far too acclimated to living with people and would be unable to adjust to life in the open ocean. 
 
Nonprofit organizations and multinational corporations bought Keiko from the Mexican aquarium. Keiko was transported to an aquarium in Oregon, and then to a facility in Iceland, where he was trained to live among wild orcas. 
 
Keiko never adjusted to life in the wild. He lived the rest of his life around Norwegian fjords, interacting with residents and tourists.
acclimate
Verb

to get used to the climate and culture of an area.

adjust
Verb

to change or modify something to fit with something else.

advocate
Verb

to argue in favor of something.

amusement park
Noun

recreational facility with games, food, and mechanical rides.

aquarium
Noun

a container or tank where aquatic plants and animals are kept, or an institution that keeps such containers.

calf
Noun

baby whale.

captivity
Noun

confinement or imprisonment.

capture
Verb

to take or control.

facility
Noun

a building or room that serves a specific function.

Noun

long, narrow ocean inlet between steep slopes.

inspire
Verb

to influence to act.

killer whale
Noun

carnivorous whale, actually the world's largest species of dolphin. Also called an orca.

marine biologist
Noun

scientist who studies ocean life.

multinational corporation
Noun

business that manages the production of goods or delivers services in several countries.

nonprofit organization
Noun

business that uses surplus funds to pursue its goals, not to make money.

Noun

large body of salt water that covers most of the Earth.

pneumonia
Noun

infection where lungs fill with fluid.

resident
Noun

person who lives in a specific place.

skeptical
Adjective

doubtful.

tourist
Noun

person who travels for pleasure.

transport
Verb

to move material from one place to another.

More Dates in History

December
MonTueWedThuFriSatSun
25 26 27 28 29 30 1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31 1 2 3 4 5