Free Lolita! A Whale Story
by Jessica Bennett (Newsweek)
It’s been nearly four decades since Lolita the killer whale was snatched from her family in the waters of Puget Sound. Now activists want to bring her home.
For more than a decade, Howard Garrett has worked tirelessly out of his home on Whidbey Island, Wash., to return an orca whale named Lolita to her native waters. In 1995–inspired by the campaign to release Keiko, the “Free Willy” whale–he teamed with local politicians, offering the Florida aquarium where Lolita works a million dollars to reunite her with the pod of whales she grew up with, off the coast of Washington state. In 1997, he spent two years in Miami–unpaid–working to garner public attention for Lolita’s cause; after nearly four decades in captivity, she’s served her time, Garrett believes. Every year since then, his organization, the nonprofit advocacy group Orca Network, has held a beachside commemoration of the day Lolita was plucked from her family in the icy waters of Puget Sound.