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Free Lolita Update 53

Lolita Update #51
July 26, 2002

Dear Friends of Lolita,
  • "Springer" the orphan orca now back home to Canada, joins with maternal female, also an orphan
  • 32nd Anniversary of Lolita's capture is August 8th - join us for an event on Penn Cove, Whidbey Island, WA where she was captured, or in Miami for a demonstration at the Seaquarium
  • Baltimore Sun article on Lolita 7/17
  • Keiko Update from Ocean Futures - Keiko is swimming with other orcas in Iceland, looking for his family
  • NEW! Many Thanks to JaD Cousteau for our beautiful new Free Lolita logo! It's now available on Free Lolita T-shirts, bumper stickers, and more - see below for details


Springer (A73), the orphan orca calf who lived in Puget Sound since January has been home free for twelve days now, building trust with her family while she builds her stamina. She was among her family last week and again Tuesday evening for a couple of hours at the Rubbing Rocks in Johnstone Strait to rub on the smooth cobblestones. The northern pods seem to make a ritual of it as they take turns streaming down along their bellies and backs on the rocks 15' to 20' below the surface. For Springer to be included shows she's being accepted back into the fold. Thursday she spent some time with two other orphans from her extended family, A51 & A61. Springer may one day be a healthy adult female who will give birth to calves of her own in the next few decades, and in a precarious population of around 200, her contribution could be significant.

In addition, Springer's new closeness with whales outside her maternal family indicates that it isn't absolutely essential for her actual mother, who died, or even her grandmother, who doesn't seem involved, to rebond with her in order to be accepted by other members of her extended family. This gives new optimism for the reintroduction of Lolita and for Keiko, whose mothers may or may not still be alive, and for Corky of the Northern Resident Community.

Springer's homecoming is also a heartwarming story of a lonely orphan starving for companionship who struggled to make it on her own far from home. A caring effort by humans gave her a ride home, where she ecstatically greeted her pod, tentatively approached them, then joined in their ceremonial dance and traveled with other orphans. Even ABC's Peter Jennings was visibly moved.

Lolita should be given the same chance. The fact that both Springer and L98 (Luna) have been able to catch fish with apparent ease at less than two years of age shows that Lolita was catching her own food for at least four years prior to capture. Now Springer has shown that after a year's absence she is still a member in good standing of her extended family. Lolita could also rejoin her family after a gradual period of rebuilding her stamina and regaining the familiarity and trust she once knew with them.


August 8th events commemorate Lolita's 1970 Penn Cove orca capture:

Miami, Florida - join the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida for a demonstration in front of the Miami Seaquarium at noon, August 8th, to ask for Lolita's freedom. Contact ARFF at (954) 917-2733 or for more information.

In Washington, join Orca Network, Whidbey Island, WA for a Lolita Come Home! Event on Penn Cove, the site of the 1970 orca capture, 5 - 8 pm at the Captain Whidbey Inn, Coupeville, Whidbey Island. Included will be special guest speakers, a waterside ceremony, music, gourmet appetizers and desserts, no-host bar, silent auction, and educational displays.

Event admission is $15. For more information, contact Orca Network at (360) 678-3451 or


'Free Lolita' real-life drama

Orca: Activists in Washington state want to return a popular performing killer whale from the Miami Seaquarium to her natural home in Puget Sound.
By Greg Tasker

July 17, 2002 - Baltimore Sun
EVERETT, Wash. -- Three decades ago, hunters dropped nets into the deep, blue waters of Puget Sound and rounded up seven orcas, including a 6-year-old female calf caught off the rugged coastline of the San Juan Islands.

Like other orcas, or killer whales, captured in Puget Sound in the mid-1960s and early 1970s, the killer whales were sold and shipped to marine parks around the world. The female calf -- who became known as Lolita -- ended up at the Miami Seaquarium, where she still lives and today is the focal point of a grass-roots campaign to return her to the wilds of the Pacific Northwest.

The little-known story of Lolita, the oldest orca in captivity, reaches new ears every summer as the whale-watching season begins in earnest and naturalists such as Cindy Hansen share the curious tale of the 37-year-old orca with the throngs of seafaring tourists.

"Unfortunately, Lolita's not a movie star like Keiko," says Howard Garrett, president of the Orca Network, an organization founded in the mid-1990s on Lolita's behalf. "In terms of relocation and reintroduction, Lolita's situation would be absolutely simple in comparison to Keiko's."


July 2002:

Keiko again swimming in the wild near whales!

Ocean Futures Keiko Update

Keiko started the summer reintroduction program picking up exactly where he left off last summer.
On July 6, team members attached Keiko's new satellite and VHF tags to his dorsal fin. Immediately afterward, Keiko was taken out for his first walk of the season to complete a "shakedown" of the VHF tracking system, the satellite positioning system and the communications equipment.

Throughout Sunday evening, July 7, Keiko swam near the whales, sometimes as close as fifty meters and often within two hundred and fifty meters. Just as he had in August of 2001, Keiko showed no fear of the whales. The whales were swimming through the area and a number of groups came close to Daniel, swimming by Keiko while he circled the area.

What is amazing is that Keiko seems to start each season exactly where he leaves off from the last, without regressing in his approaches to interactions in any way. Wild whales are in the area for only two and a half months per year.


Now Available - hot off the press!
Orca Network has beautiful new Free Lolita T-shirts and bumper stickers for sale, thanks to JaD Cousteau's wonderful "Toki in a fishbowl" design!
T-shirts are 100% cotton, white with multi-color Free Lolita logo, and sell for $20. Sizes are Small, Medium, Large and Xtra-Large.
Bumper stickers with color Free Lolita logo sell for $5.
Also available: natural canvas tote bags with our Orca Network logo, $20.
Orca-Stra CD's - calls of the Southern Resident orcas, $20
Orcas in our Midst booklet by Howard Garrett, $5
*all prices include tax & shipping
All proceeds support Orca Network's Lolita and educational programs.

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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