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Free Lolita Update 15

Lolita Update #15
August 10, 1999August 20, 1999

More news from the Free Lolita Campaign...

1) August 8 demonstration
Under a tropical sun and a few low trees on the grassy strip beside the causeway, around 15 of us spread out alongside 50 yards of road with our signs for Lolita. The half-dozen county sherrif's cars let people know something was going on, so they were going slow enough to read the signs and banners, especially the one reading "HONK FOR LOLITA'S FREEDOM." There were plenty of honks. I presented the Seaquarium with our proposal to allow Lolita to communicate with her family. Lisa Koncar came all the way from Seattle for this one.

Each time we demonstrate in front of the Seaquarium we show that we aren't going away, and more people begin to think about whether Lolita really should be stuck in that tiny tank, and that maybe she should go back to her native waters. There is a large buildup of opinion in South Florida that has been told Lolita's phased release would not work, but by demonstrating our resolve month after month people are beginning to think about it all over again.

Scheduling note: At our gathering after the demonstration it was decided that since I will be traveling to the Pacific Northwest from September 10 to October 4 we will hold our next demonstration in two weeks, on Sunday, August 22, from Noon to 1 PM in front of the Seaquarium.
2) Penn Cove capture commemoration
Penn Cove capture commemoration

On the evening of Sunday, August 8th, a gathering of 30 of Lolita's friends took place on the Coupeville Wharf on Penn Cove, where she was captured 29 years before. We began with an update on the Free Lolita campaign, & talked about the progress that has been made during the past year, but lamented the fact that we were commemorating yet another year of captivity for Toki, rather than celebrating her freedom. Hopefully the next gathering will be her homecoming celebration....

We also talked about Toki's family, & the news that 7 members of her related pods did not return this year, & the importance of clean water, healthy salmon runs, watersheds & forests. And the importance of returning Toki - a healthy, mature female capable of having several offspring - back to her pod, to help bring the population back up.

There was good news too - two new babies born into the Southern Resident Community this year, & the fact that orcas have visited Penn Cove THREE times this year - a very rare event after the violent captures in the Cove in 1970 and 1971.

Several in the crowd shared their memories of witnessing the Penn Cove Captures - Barbara Stevens of Coupeville worked at the Captain Whidbey Inn (overlooking where the capture took place) in 1970, & has been so distressed by what she saw during that week that she has been unable to talk about it until now. We deeply appreciate her courage & willingness to share some of those memories with us on Sunday, & we all had tears in our eyes as she described the sound of the orcas' cries, & how she had to restrain her young son who was so angry that no one was stopping the captures.

The gathering ended with Vern & Karl Olsen & Deb Lund singing orca & Lolita songs, & with a procession out to the end of the pier, with Native Flute music and the tossing of a fir & pine wreath into the waters of Penn Cove, in memory of the orcas killed in the captures, of those who have died in captivity, of those who didn't return with their pods this year, & of Toki's freedom, lost for 29 years now. We joined in together to sing a resounding version of Vern's "Come Home Lolita", & left with renewed hope & inspiration to continue the struggle for Toki's freedom & her return to her family here in Puget Sound.

Many thanks to all who joined us on Sunday, & to all who couldn't be there but sent us their best wishes & thoughts of freedom for Toki. She has not given up hope, so we must not either.

Susan Berta
The Tokitae Foundation
Whidbey Island,WA
3) "Lolita phone home" experiment draws international interest
"Lolita phone home" experiment draws international interest.

The idea of allowing Lolita to converse with her family, as presented in the Tokitae Foundation's Acoustic Experiment proposal has been well reported in Miami and in England. After the demonstration on Sunday, the BBC program "Up All Night" called for a telephone interview with me about the proposal and broadcast our discussion throughout the UK.

Back in Miami, early Monday morning newstands and business offices receiving the Miami Daily Business Review were treated to this headline on the upper right front page: "Lolita - Call your mom!" In a light but supportive tone, columnist Tony Doris described the proposal: "The draft, citing some 50 scientific studies, notes research has established that different killer whale families have their own distinctive sets of calls, sometimes termed dialects." This is an important piece of the puzzle for understanding why Lolita would probably rejoin her pod of birth.
4) Dateline story on Keiko
Dateline story on Keiko

If anyone happened to see the Dateline-NBC on July 28, you may have been surprised to hear that Keiko has not been catching fish, because we know he's been catching fish for over two years. This is part of the great misconception that has been circulating widely saying Keiko is not ready for his phased release to ultimately join up with his pod of birth. Fortunately Dateline is now working on a new treatment of Keiko's story with a more accurate assessment of his capabilities and a more optimistic view of his prospects upon release.
5) Laura's Get Lost interview
Don't miss the interview with ex-Seaquarium trainer Laura Singer in the current issue of the web magazine Get Lost. Laura was with us on Sunday to stand up for Lolita.

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!

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