Free event to screen film on Lolita, last captive survivor of local orca family

Trio here raise call to free imprisoned orca

Sep 19, 2013

Imagine spending your entire life in a bathtub, unable to get out and walk free. Chances are, you’d eventually go mad, or kill yourself, or simply lose the will to live.

That, essentially, is the life humans have condemned a killer whale to live since 1970.

Lolita, a Southern Resident from the family known as L pod, in Penn Cove, was captured off Whidbey Island 43 years ago when she was about 2 to 4 years old.

She is living out her days on display at the Miami Seaquarium in a tank so small it is illegal under the Animal Welfare Act.

A trio of local women has joined an Orca Network movement to free Lolita and give her a chance to live out her remaining days in the Pacific Northwest with her family.

Dawn Clark and her daughter Keely, along with Anjelica Ehnkee – both seniors at Edmonds-Woodway High School – are hosting a Charity Awareness Event at the Edmonds Theater to build support for efforts to free Lolita.

Taking place at 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29, the free event will include the documentary “Lolita, Slave to Entertainment” followed by desserts supplied by the Red Petal Coffee House and the Rusty Pelican Café.

Lolita is the only survivor of 44 orcas from her family that were shipped worldwide between 1965 and 1973. All the others were dead by 1988.

Since 1980 when her teen-aged male companion Hugo died of a brain aneurism after repeatedly ramming the walls and windows of their tank, she has had no contact with any other orcas.

Instead, Lolita was condemned to perform for the entertainment of humans who either don’t understand or care about the intelligence and nature of orca families.

To this day, Lolita continues to vocalize in the unique calls used only by her family and community, suggesting she retains memories of her life prior to capture.

The trio is urging people to attend the event and learn how to help bring Lolita back to the Pacific Northwest.

“Help us have our own Northwest ‘Free Willy’ story,” Dawn Clark said. “Come see her movie.

“Don’t let her die there alone.”

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