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Whale of a time in Ireland.


KEIKO the whale, star of the film Free Willy, could soon have a new home off the Irish coast.

Animal activists believe Ireland's waters could help Keiko return to the wild.

The whale, who starred in the 1993 film, has spent three years around the Westman Islands off southern Iceland.

But all attempts to persuade Keiko to bond with other whales have been in vain.

Charles Vinick, president of the California-based Ocean Futures, said his staff have been looking at several possible locations in Ireland.

He said: "Because Ireland is such a dynamic place, it could be just what Keiko needs.

"We even looked at the area where you have the Dingle dolphin.

"But that's a little too active an environment for Keiko."

His keepers had hoped he would swim off with other whales last week when the orcas began their annual migration from Icelandic waters.

But bad weather set in, the whales swam off and Keiko stayed behind.

He will now spend the winter in a bay south of Iceland.

But Mr Vinick said it could become impossible to keep Keiko in northern waters.

He said: "There are lots of reasons why it might - it's remote, expensive, a challenging long-term habitat."
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 8, 2001
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