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Free Lolita Update 145

Lolita Update #145
Capture commemoration Aug. 6
July 26, 2016

Aug 6 event poster

Coupeville, Whidbey Island, WA - August 2016 marks the 46th anniversary of Lolita's capture from her family, the Southern Resident orcas, in Penn Cove off Whidbey Island, WA. Orca Network’s commemoration of the Penn Cove orca captures of 1970 includes an on the water ceremony as well as a special screening of the documentary Lolita: Spirit in the Water with guest appearances by the creators of the film.

46 years ago over 100 Southern Resident orcas were herded into Penn Cove off Whidbey Island, WA. Seven of the young whales were netted and delivered to marine parks around the world. All but one had died by 1987. Originally named Tokitae, they now call her Lolita. In memory of the nearly 40 Southern Resident orcas captured in Washington State, and the 13 orcas killed during the captures, and in honor of Tokitae, the sole survivor, Orca Network is sponsoring two events on Saturday August 6th to commemorate the 46th anniversary of the 1970 Penn Cove Orca Capture.

From 11 am till 2:30 pm an event is planned at the Coupeville Wharf including educational displays, face painting (invited) and a waterside ceremony. A limited number of tickets for a ceremonial boat trip in Penn Cove will be available. At noon please join us on Penn Cove in your kayak, row boat, or any kind of vessel, for a ceremonial paddle/sail/motor around the perimeter of the capture site on Penn Cove. Kayaks and small boats can be launched from Capt. Coupe Park in Coupeville, Monroe's Landing, or the DNR access on Madrona Way (note: parking permits are required for the use of DNR parking/beach access areas). We'll travel to the capture site in Penn Cove for a wreath ceremony to remember the orcas killed in the capture, and those who have died in captivity. We'll provide flowers and cedar sprigs to toss into the water, or you may bring your own flower or other eco-friendly offering to toss in the water during the ceremony. In addition to the on-the-water events, there will be a blessing and salmon offering from Rosie Cayou and Bill Bailey of the Samish Nation, music, and a reading by Sandra Pollard from her book Puget Sound Whales for Sale. The event on the Wharf is free to the public, though contributions to support Orca Network's educational programs and work on orca captivity issues are appreciated.

From 3:30 to 5:30 pm we will meet at the Nordic Lodge in Coupeville for food, drink, a silent auction, and a special screening of the 1996 film Lolita: Spirit in the Water featuring the late Kathi Goertzen from KOMO 4 news. Kathi’s husband and photographer Rick Jewett, and the film’s producer Sharon Howard, and Mike Rosen, photographer/editor will be present to introduce the film and for a Q&A following the screening. Tickets to the event are $20 (includes appetizers and wine).

Registration for the afternoon event at Nordic Lodge is available HERE.

To reserve your space on one of the sailing vessels please contact Cindy Hansen at

Tomorrow morning, Wednesday, July 27, at 6 AM, an hour-long radio show about Lolita/Tokitae and her family will be aired in Seattle on 1150AM KKNW, and will be available on iTunes and SoundCloud. For details go to Uplift Radio on Facebook.

As reported in the previous Free Lolita Update, legal efforts to mandate Tokitae's return to her home waters will continue.

On June 1 our suit against the Seaquarium for violations of the Endangered Species Act was dismissed without trial on the grounds that the Animal Welfare Act supersedes the ESA for captive animals, and that there is no violation of the ESA unless it can be shown that Lolita is not just harmed or harassed, as the law states, but she must be under “grave threat to her survival.”

We believe Lolita/Tokitae, known as Toki, is indeed under grave threat to her survival, but that the ESA does not require a grave threat to constitute harm or harassment, and that the ESA supersedes the AWA even for animals in captivity. So we are appealing the ruling, but that will take at least a year to come to a new decision.

Toki’s legal team is also suing the USDA, again, this time for issuing an operating license to Palace Entertainment, the new owner of the Seaquarium, despite multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

Since 2011 Toki’s legal team has launched a long list of suits to apply whatever legal leverage is possible to mandate her return to her home and family. We aren’t giving up.

Legal actions for Lolita
2011 – SeaWorld sued for slavery – dismissed.
2012 - Petition to NMFS to include Lolita in ESA listing.
2013 - Lolita vs. USDA to void annual license to the Seaquarium - violates three Animal Welfare Act regulations:
1) the undersized tank;
2) no protection from the sun;
3) she is alone.
Dismissed and lost on appeal, June 2015.
2015 - OSHA cites Seaquarium; no more waterwork.
May 11, 2015 Lolita became protected under the ESA.
May 20, 2015 – case filed vs. Seaquarium for ESA violations.
New suit filed vs. USDA - May 18, 2016
ESA case dismissed June 1, 2016 - Appeal filed July 1, 2016.

Given these delays in the court of law, we’re back to where we’ve always been, making the case for Toki’s retirement in the court of public opinion, and in that court, thanks in large part to a powerful documentary film called Blackfish, as well as numerous books and articles about orca captivity and many beautiful songs and artwork on Toki’s behalf, and the educational value of the steady stream of legal actions, and thousands of dedicated campaigners worldwide, we’re winning. There are signs everywhere you look that orca captivity is going out of style.

We don’t have attendance or revenue figures for the Seaquarium, but the stock price of a once powerful company called SeaWorld is in the dumpster despite massively expensive advertising and green-washing, and that’s probably a pretty good indication of how the Seaquarium is doing.

Protests have been taking place every weekend at the Seaquarium, and a group called Shut Down Palace is holding demonstrations at many of the 40 or so water parks in the US operated by Palace Entertainment, and in the UK, at the office of Arle Capital, the investment house that owns the corporation that owns Palace Entertainment, an amazing street theater demonstration was held April 1st, that generated a story in the London Sunday Times about Lolita, holding Arle Capital responsible for her captivity.

The portfolio at Arle Capital that includes the Seaquarium, and Marineland in France and other dolphinariums and water parks, is steadily losing value, maybe because they are selling tickets to watch enslaved whales and dolphins forced to do circus tricks. Those days are rapidly ending, and those companies will have to adapt. We just have to get the whales and dolphins in captivity out of those misery pits.

And the next captive orca to return to a seapen in her familiar waters could be Toki. Her retirement home is in an ideal location, needing only infrastructure and personnel, all to be assembled when the time comes. We are collaborating with the builder and the operator of Keiko’s seapen to make sure our plan is safe and sound.

Toki's new home in her familiar Salish Sea waters awaits her arrival.
For a look at her complete retirement plan, click HERE.

Much is going on to help bring Lolita home and to inform and advocate for her and her family. Please consider a tax-deductible contribution to help Orca Network continue this work by clicking HERE. Thank you!
Howard Garrett
Susan Berta
Orca Network

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