PBS Stands Behind Lie To The Public That Keiko Star Of Free Willy Who Lived 5 Years Free Died The First Year of Release


By Kirsten Massebeau

Keiko swims free on 2002 by the Orca NetworkIn their lopsided article entitled article, “In danger or endangered? Will world’s lonliest orca be released into the wild?” PBS discusses the release of Lolita the captive whale at the Miami Seaquarium and her possible release if she obtains endangered species status along with her family, still present in the Puget Sound L-Pod.

In this atricle PBS has made a huge blunder. In what looks like a pro-cap move the giant super station has contended that Keiko the star of “Free Willy” who was later released only lived one year in the wild promptly dying. Sadly PBS has not vetted their source or they do not want the world to know the truth as described in the documentary, “Keiko The Untold Story”.

Why PBS quoted Hari Sreenivasan, printing his lie obviously defending orca captivity is the question? “Keiko was the iconic killer whale that starred in the movie “Free Willy”. Keiko was released into the waters off Norway in 2002 but died alone a year later of pneumonia”.(source)

Apparently PBS would have preferred to see Keiko die in a tank truly alone far from the ocean. Howard Garrett Director of the Orca Network and expert on Lolita’s release and Keiko’s life was not included in the interview . Instead Pro-captivity Hari Sreenivasangot got the last word.

This is how PBS Ombsbudsman Marcia A. Apperson, Assistant Director PBS Ombudsman’s Office Responded to my question on their blatant lie:

Ms. Massebeau:
Several messages our office received about this report were forwarded to the PRODUCERS. Here is the response they sent:
Thank you for your comments. It is true that proposed plans to move Lolita, the killer whale, includes time for her to get re-acclimated into the wild before being released completely.  We addressed this briefly in the story. Here is that line: 
 
“That could lead to Lolita being re-acclimated over time and eventually released back into the waters off Seattle, where she was captured in 1970.”
 
It is also true Keiko, the iconic killer whale that starred in the movie “Free Willy,” also had time to acclimate to the wild.  A year after Keiko was fully released into the wild, Keiko died.  We understand there is a passionate debate around Keiko’s death and whether she was properly prepared for returning to the wild or if she died simply of natural causes.  In the future PBS NewsHour may have the opportunity to do an in-depth story about this important debate.
 Best,
Marcia Assistant Director, PBS Ombudsman’s Office
                         Please take action and demand PBS Correct their Story                                                                       to reflect the TRUTH!
                                     @Marcia A. Apperson on Twitter #PBS
                                         Call PBS Corrections and Complaints: 
                                                     703.998.2138
                                              Viewermail@newshour.org

Demonstrators Demand The Captive L Pod Orca Lolita Be Retired and Released!


By Kirsten Massebeau

Lolita has performed for 43 years at Miami Seaquarium. Read the Plan for her retirement.

Lolita has performed for 43 years at the Miami Seaquarium. Read the Plan for her retirement.

On October 3, 2013 Barbara Napoles a long time dolphin activist received a call from an Australian news channel about doing a demonstration and interview about Lolita the last L Pod member alive in captivity today. Despite her busy schedule with her popular Facebook page Save the Blood Dolphins Napoles put together and amazing event in less than a week that drew 50 activists including Ric O’Barry of the Dolphin Project/creator of the academy award-winning documentary The Cove, and the media.

Lolita is a subject close to Napoles heart as she grew up in the Miami area where Lolita has performed for 43 years at the Miami Seaquarium. Napoles has attended, and created, many demonstrations for Lolita known as Tokitae in the Puget Sound where the L pod, her family, her mother, sister and other L pod mates still live today. According to Napoles, “I am sure the L Pod is awaiting Lolita’s return. She has performed for 43 years in one of the tiniest tanks on the planet at the Miami Seaquarium doesn’t she deserve to retire?”.

Barbara Napole and Ric O'Barry brainstorming at the Free Lolita Event on October 12, 2013

Barbara Napoles and Ric O’Barry brainstorming at the Free Lolita Demonstration October 10, 2013

The L pod capture on August 8, 1970 took seven young whales for captivity one of which was Lolita. The whales were sold to marine parks around the world. During Lolita’s capture five whales, including four babies had their bellies slit, then filled with rocks, and weighted down with chains and anchors to keep their deaths from coming to the public’s attention. Of the seven whales taken for captivity Lolita is the only L pod orca from the Penn Cove captures that remains alive today. (Source)

Demonstrators pose for a picture. Their message loud and clear let Lolita go home!

Demonstrators pose for a picture. Their message loud and clear let Lolita go home!

On May 24, 2013 the government announced that they would reconsider Lolita’s status as endangered that she has previously been excluded from:

Apr. 24, 2013: We accepted a petition to include the captive killer whale known as Lolita in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing of Southern Resident killer whales. We are soliciting scientific and commercial information about Lolita’s status to ensure that our ongoing status review is comprehensive. Acceptance of this petition doesn’t  presuppose any particular outcome. The comment period closes Jun. 28, 2013. See the Federal Register notice and other materials below for more information; or contact Lynne Barre, 206-526-4745. (source)

What would become of Lolita after 43 years in Miami Seaquarium? Her teeth are still good which gives her a fighting chance. There is a proposal and a good one. Many people in the Pacific Northwest and worldwide want to see Lolita released and returned to her pod. The plan can be read here. Isn’t it time that an orca taken from her family so long ago is given a chance to enjoy the rest of her life with her family? Doesn’t she deserve some kind of retribution for the life that was stolen from her all those years ago in Penn Cove.

Endangered Species Act Listing May be Lolita’s First Step Towards Freedom


By Kirsten Massebeau

Lolita correctedA battle to return the imprisoned orca Lolita also known as Tokitae  to her family the L-Pod in the Puget Sound makes steps forward, and towards freedom. Lolita is on the verge of being listed on the Endangered Species List. NOAA is considering adding Lolita to the Endangered species list to join her other pod mates in Washington thanks to a petition. The Orca Network believes that once she is listed she must be freed, allowed to retire and return home to her family in the Puget Sound:

“This means Lolita will now, presumably, be included as a member of an endangered population and must be accorded all the legal protections provided to her extended family. That would mean that her incarceration in a concrete box for the benefit of the entertainment industry would henceforth be illegal” (source

The cruel Penn Cove round up, 1970

The cruel Penn Cove round up, August 8, 1970

For 40 years Lolita has been imprisoned at the Miami Seaquarium in one of the worlds tiniest tanks. Lolita is known as the remaining survivor of the famous Penn Cove Round up that took place August 8,1970. Seven whales were taken for captivity during the violent round up. Five other whales, including four babies drown. The victims that were killed had their bellies slit and filled with rocks in an attempt to cover up their deaths. But on November 18, 1970 the terrible secret of what happened that terrible day at Penn Cove would be revealed to the world:

“In mid-November a trawler dragged the bodies of the drowned infants into its net. The captain of the fishing boat deposited the dead baby whales on a beach in front of a Seattle newspaper reporter, and the story was immediately told to the world. Six years later this discovery played a major role in a court decision that banned Sea World from ever capturing another killer whale in Washington State”. (source)

Lolita enslaved at the Miami Seaquarium

Lolita enslaved at the Miami Seaquarium for 40 years!

Lolita has been performing at the Miami Seaquarium since 1970. The other seven whales captured with Lolita died within five years of their capture. Today Lolita the last remaining member of those captured from the Puget Sound has a chance at freedom and we can help! NOAA is asking for public comment on her upcoming Endangered Species listing. Please make a comment here. Let them know you support her addition to the endangered species listing and her eventual freedom. Isn’t it time this highly intelligent hard worker is allowed to retire and return home?

Champions For Cetaceans Daily Scoop: “Behind The Dolphin Smile”


 

By Kirsten Massebeau

Ric O’Barry has spent a  lifetime advocating for dolphins. In his recently updated book, co written with Keith Coulbourn, “Behind the Dolphin Smile” the reader takes a journey from Ric’s early experiences as a Dolphin Trainer and the star of Flipper, to his awakening as a dolphin activist when a dolphin named Cathy died in his arms at the Miami Seaquarium:

“She was really depressed… You have to understand dolphins and whales are not [involuntary] air breathers like we are. Every breath they take is a conscious effort. They can end their life whenever. She swam into my arms and looked me right in the eye, took a breath and didn’t take another one. I let her go and she sank straight down on her belly to the bottom of the tank.”(Ric O’Barry)

Ric’ O’Barry has fought tirelessly for dolphins. “Behind the Dolphin Smile” documents Ric’s work as an advocate for dolphins worldwide opposing captivity, slaughter, and helping captive dolphins return to freedom.

. This updated edition also includes a preface on drive fisheries, what is happening to end the slaughter and capture of dolphins in Taiji, and his academy award-winning film, “The Cove“.
Behind the Dolphin Smile” is a must have for dolphin activists and dolphin lovers. The book is both inspiring and educational. As always Ric O’Barry reminds us not to be fooled by the dolphin smile.

To learn more go to  Save Japan Dolphins “Behind the Dolphin Smile”