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EDITIONS
 Monday, 23 December, 2002, 16:37 GMT
Keiko enjoys festive freedom
Keiko, star of the Free Willy films
Keiko's last Christmas in the wild was in 1978
Keiko the celebrity killer whale - star of the Free Willy films - is spending his first Christmas in the wild for 24 years in a Norwegian bay.

The whale, which has been the subject of an expensive effort to return him to the wild, will celebrate Christmas with a feast of his favourite food - herring.

Keiko was moved to the fishing bay in western Norway in November after creating a frenzy among local residents and media when he turned up in a nearby fjord.

Keiko the killer whale
His training team will feed him for the foreseeable future
"We feel very welcome," Thorbjoerg Valdis Kristjansdottir, a member of the team that constantly follows and feeds the whale, told Norwegian news agency NTB.

Keiko was captured aged one or two in 1979, and was then kept in marine parks in Iceland, Canada, Mexico and the United States.

The whale was released back into the wild in his native Iceland in July - but swam to Norway, apparently in search of human contact, only six weeks after being freed.

He became an instant star in the Skaalvik fjord, about 400 kilometres (250 miles) west of the capital, Oslo, with tourists and locals flocking to see him.

But trainers told visitors to stay away, fearing that too much human contact could harm his chances to adapting back to life in the wild.

He was secretly moved to the more isolated Taknes Bay, but still needs a team to follow his every move and feed him the 50 kg (110 pounds) of fish he requires every day.

See also:

08 Nov 02 | Film
16 Oct 02 | Film
04 Sep 02 | Europe
03 Sep 02 | Film
03 Mar 00 | Entertainment
07 Aug 02 | Film
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