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Free Lolita Update 25

Lolita Update #25
August 26, 2000

Dear Friends of Lolita,

Much has transpired in the past few weeks.
  • Hugely successful August 8 capture anniversary event
  • August 8 demo in Miami by ARFF
  • Upcoming Orca Conservancy event on San Juan Island
  • Keiko reported meeting with free orcas, catching 100% of his food
  • Seattle Times "Pacific Northwest" article on orcas
  • Seattle's KING5 TV Evening Magazine runs "Lolita" segment
  • Dolphin "Pearl" dies at Seaquarium from litter ingestion
  • Vigga dies at 22 years of age at Marine World, CA
  • Op-ed on orcas, pollution, salmon and boats
  • Report from Workshop on Southern Residents
The August 8 benefit event to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the capture of Lolita and her family members at Penn Cove, Whidbey Island, was a great success. Orca Conservancy hosted the event to remember the trauma and tragedy of that and other captures, and to support renewed efforts to bring Lolita home. The event was a mix of music, humor, talks, ceremony and a silent auction. Around 150 people joined in support of Lolita's return to home and family, offering hope and help with our efforts to spread the word about Lolita and her family in Puget Sound. The benefit also raised much needed funds to sustain Orca Conservancy's educational programs and the Lolita campaign. We are still receiving contributions from far and wide, and greatly appreciate the outpouring of help from dedicated people all over the world.

Elected officials present at the event included Sec. of State Ralph and Karen Munro, Cong. Jack Metcalf, Washington State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, State Representatives Dave Anderson and Kelly Barlean, Island County Commissioners Bill Thorn and Mac McDowell, Island County Treasurer Maxine Sauter, Island County Auditor Suzanne Sinclair, and Friday Harbor Port Commissioner Brian Calvert. As the Whidbey News-Times so succinctly put it "Ironically the owner of the Seaquarium has said the movement to free Lolita was led by environmental radicals." Dave Howitt brought the Corky/Lolita Freedom Bus and decorated the grounds around the Captain Whidbey Inn with colorful banners from the bus.

In addition to a pre-event press sail with many of the above, Capt. John Stone of the Capt. Whidbey Inn offered sailboat rides on the Cutty Sark. A wonderful variety of songs by Karl and Deb Lund and friends and an ensemble led by Lynn Wedekind set the tone for the event, marked by the tossing of a wreath near the capture site by Sec. Munro, to remember those whales lost in captures and at marine parks.

Meanwhile, in Miami, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) held a demonstration at the Seaquarium on the 30th anniversary of Lolita's capture as well. They reported a good turn out for a weekday, and that nearly every media source in Dade County was there, as well as the AP. Unfortunately, there was an oil spill off of the coast of Florida that same day, so the story of the demonstration was covered only by Channels 4 and 6, and talk radio 610, which is a good showing for a busy news day.

Orca Conservancy (formerly Tokitae Foundation) will sponsor multiple events San Juan Island on September 17, to raise awareness of Lolita's family, the Southern Resident community. Details will be sent to you in a few days.

Ocean Futures reports that Keiko has encountered several groups of free-ranging orcas off the coast of Iceland, sometimes coming "within inches" of them before turning back toward the research vessel. Acoutstic recordings were made of the encounters for future analysis, and no hostility was observed during any of the meetings. Presumably the whales Keiko has found so far have not been close kin so it would be unlikely that he would join with them. Ocean Futures reports that "some days Keiko eats 100 percent of his diet in live fish" indicating he is capable of feeding himself at sea. Unfortunately, unless Keiko finds his family within a few weeks, winter weather may not permit further "ocean walks" to bring Keiko into contact with other orcas.

The August 13th edition of Pacific Northwest magazine (the Sunday Seattle Times insert) contains a cover story that is an excellent treatment of the history and current condition of the Southern Resident orca community, Lolita's extended family. Some of the astounding scientific findings and many illuminating anecdotes are told in the story.

On August 15th, Seattle's KING 5 Evening Magazine re-ran a story they did on Lolita 5 years ago, and though it was quite outdated, they did mention our August 8th event and the fact that efforts to free Lolita are still underway and gaining momentum. They also mentioned our websites, & have links to them from their website.

Other news on the dangers of captivity... "Pearl", a dolphin at the Miami Seaquarium, recently became ill & died after ingesting a plastic cup littering her pool, called the "Topdeck."

On a sad note, "Vigga", a 23 year old orca captured from Iceland about the same time Keiko was captured, died at Six Flags Marine World in Vallejo, CA, from a heart condition and lung infection on August 14th. Vigga lived less than half the normal life-span for wild orcas, as do most captive whales. For more about Vigga, by Paul Spong and Helena Symonds, go to Orcalab - (Webmaster Note: Page no longer exists.)

We need to get Lolita home before one of these sad fates of captivity befall her...

Many of you have expressed concern about overall health of the Southern Resident community, Lolita's family, due to the recent decline in the population from 98 to 81 individuals in the past five years. Since spring only K4 has been reported missing and presumed to have died, leaving the community holding steady at 81 members in their Pacific Ocean habitat, plus Lolita, still held captive in Miami.To see an op-ed written by Howard Garrett on the current environmental situation facing the Southern Resident community, Lolita's clan, see the Seattle P-I - (Webmaster Note: Page no longer exists.). For a look at the report from National Marine Fisheries Service on the killer whale workshop held April 1-2, 2000, go to National Marine Fisheries Service. Acrobat Reader is required to access this file.

More news as it happens! Thank you for your interest and support.

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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