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Free Lolita Update 24

Lolita Update #24
July 23, 2000

Dear Friends of Lolita,

We're glad to report that Lolita appears to remain in good health as she performs daily in the smallest orca tank in North America at the Seaquarium.

On Friday, July 14, WTVJ/NBC TV in Miami reported some recent developments about Keiko and Lolita. The story broke the news that Ocean Futures, currently in the final stages of releasing Keiko to his Icelandic habitat, offered to buy Lolita for rehabilitation toward release in her home waters. Seaquarium says they never looked at the offer. The story mentioned that Lolita could still have a baby or two and help restore the So. Resident orca community if returned to her family.

Special note to supporters in the Miami area: The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) is planning a demonstration at the Seaquarium at Noon on August 8. For more information contact ARFF at> The following letter just went out to hundreds of Lolita supporters. It pretty well says it all.

Please consider youselves invited to the...

Lolita Come Home! benefit event
Remembering the capture of Lolita and her family members.
Lolita is an orca whale, captured in Penn Cove August 8, 1970.
She has survived the last 30 years in her small tank at the Miami Seaquarium, performing daily, and waiting to come home.
You are invited to join us
Tuesday, August 8, 2000
5 - 10 p.m.
at the Captain Whidbey Inn
Coupeville - Whidbey Island, WA

Special Guest Speaker Sec. of State Ralph Munro
Waterside Ceremony - Presentations
Gourmet Appetizers - Decadent Desserts
Entertainment - Silent Auction - Displays
Sunset Sails aboard the Cutty Sark
Event Tickets $15 - Cutty Sark Sails $15
Call (360) 678-3451 or email for more information.
For overnight accomodations at the historic Captain Whidbey Inn, call (360) 678-4097


July 2000

Orca Conservancy, formerly the Tokitae Foundation, is pleased to announce several upcoming events concerning the orcas of the Southern Resident Community; both those living in the wild, and Lolita, or "Tokitae," who has been performing daily at the Miami Seaquarium for the past three decades, 4,000 miles away from her home in Puget Sound.

Though the name has changed, the mission of Orca Conservancy remains the same to inform the general public about the grace and capabilities of Orcinus orca, to communicate scientific knowledge of the species, and to actively protect the whales' natural habitats. Further, Orca Conservancy is committed to raising awareness concerning whales and dolphins in captivity, and to exploring the feasibility of returning captive cetaceans to their natural habitats.

For many people, a love of our resident orcas opens eyes and allows a dramatic and memorable glimpse into nature. Along with salmon, the whales increasingly symbolize the value of Northwest ecosystems. Orca Conservancy is dedicated to enhancing awareness of the natural links between orcas and the full panorama of life forms and processes that make up the ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest.

In recent years and months, much has been happening to bring more attention to orca whales around the world, both captive and wild. Keiko, the Free Willy movie-star whale, is back home in Iceland where he was captured over 20 years ago, now swimming in the open ocean under a carefully controlled rehabilitation and release program, poised on the brink of total freedom. Keiko's story inspires and propels efforts underway to free Lolita, who lives alone at the Miami Seaquarium in the smallest orca tank in the United States. A diverse and growing movement is afoot to give Lolita the same opportunity as Keiko, to return her to her family in Puget Sound, whose calls she still uses even after 30 years away from home.

And not only does Lolita need her family, they need her, too. The population of the Southern Resident Community of orcas (J, K and L pods) has decreased from 98 to 81 individuals over the past five years. It is believed the stress of decreased salmon runs, increased boat traffic, and the effects of PCBs ingested by these "urban" orcas are all contributing to this decline. The orca captures of the 1960s and '70s also had a great impact on the population, removing many individuals from an entire generation. All have died in captivity, except for Lolita. But it is not hopeless.

Historically, there have been decreases in orca populations that match the fluctuations in salmon population, and the forecast is for an upward cycle in salmon runs over the next few years. There are also widespread effects of listing salmon under the Endangered Species Act, bringing awareness and attention to the importance of salmon to the entire ecosystem, and focusing on solutions to the problems we've created for the creatures living in our watershed and ocean habitats. And if Lolita returns to her family, she would be a healthy female of reproductive age, who could bring some welcome new orca calves to this population at a time when they are needed the most.

On this 30th anniversary of Lolita's capture, we ask you to take a moment to think about what her life has been like these past three decades at the Miami Seaquarium. Think also of her family, the Southern Resident Community, and of the challenges we have created for them. And please do what you can to help, in whatever way you can, to make life better for our whale neighbors.

We hope you can join us for the August 8th event at the Captain Whidbey Inn, or for one of our upcoming Fall events. These include a San Juan Island Orca Education Event and "Ralph Roast" for Secretary of State Ralph Munro, and several panel discussions on the issue of listing the Southern Resident Community as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. For more information, please contact

Orca Conservancy
Phone (360) 678-3451
2403 S. North Bluff Road
Greenbank, WA 98253

Orca Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing education, conservation and research to help our orca neighbors. If you would like to help us help the whales, please consider making a tax-deductible donation, or donating items for the August 8th auction. Your donation to Orca Conservancy will help fund projects such as
  • Orca education programs for schools, community groups, and conferences
  • The Free Lolita campaign
  • The San Juan Theodolite Study, assessing the impact of increased boat traffic on orcas
  • A Volunteer network to track whales in and around Island County
  • Publications and presentations to raise awareness about the interconnectedness between orcas, salmon, and our fresh and marine water ecosystems
  • Media and public outreach efforts
There is hope for Lolita, and for her family here in Puget Sound, if we all work together to right the wrongs we have committed in the past. It is time to let our orca neighbors know they are valued, loved, and cared for. The alternative is a future without the majestic, magnificent sight of those mighty dorsal fins plowing the waterways of Puget Sound, and this is not an alternative any of us wish to consider. Thank you for your continued support.

Howard Garrett & Susan Berta
Orca Conservancy

Who is Orca Conservancy?
We are proud to introduce our Board of Directors
President Howard Garrett
Vice President Kelley Balcomb-Bartok
Secretary/Treasurer Susan Berta
Ralph Munro, Secretary of State
Michael Harris, Outpost Productions
Brian Calvert, Friday Harbor Port Commissioner


If you can't join us for the Lolita Come Home Benefit on August 8th, please help out in any way you can.

Funds are needed to sustain the campaign during this critical time, and to educate the public about Lolita and her family, the Southern Resident Community of J, K and L pods.

Contributions may be sent to
Orca Conservancy
2403 S. North Bluff Road
Greenbank, WA 98253

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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