After Keiko from Free Willy was freed, he turned up in Norway and gave kids rides on his back

    After being in captivity for 23 years, the orca from Free Willy, Keiko, was set free in 2002. Weeks later, he appeared at a Norwegian fjord apparently seeking human contact and even gave rides to children on his back.

    After becoming famous for starring in 4 Free Willy movies, Keiko garnered substantial attention from movie fans and animal lovers alike. Consequently, Warner Brothers Studio put effort into finding him a better home in the wild.

    Therein lay a problem; Keiko had been in captivity for 23 years of his life and there was concern that he would find it difficult surviving outside of human care.

    The solution they came up with was to move him to Iceland, near where he was originally captured, after which they began a slow process of reintroducing him into the wild by moving him to a natural habitat and teaching him how to survive through supervised swims in the open ocean.

    Eventually, he was released, but it seems that he hadn't lost his bond with humans. Only weeks later, Keiko was sighted in a Norwegian fjord after apparently following a fishing vessel.

    Within hours, Keiko befriended groups of children that were playing in the water and became a spectacle after some of the children even climbed on to him and had free rides on his back.

    Do you like this fact?