Raul Julia-Levy, actor and philanthropist, announces exclusive alliance with the Free Willy Keiko Foundation / Earth Island Institute to reunite captive orca, Lolita, with her pod in Puget Sound.

Much has been made in the news in the last month about a coalition of recording artists, actors and producers teaming up in hopes of helping Miami Seaquarium's performing killer whale Lolita rejoin her family group in the Pacific Northwest. Actor Raul Julia-Levy, the official spokesperson for this coalition, announced today that he is continuing a campaign designed to gain public awareness and ultimately the release of one of the last remaining wild captive orcas, Lolita.

This elite coalition includes national/global partners around the world, including Ed Elbert, Richard Donner, David Permut, Steve Longi, Johnny Depp, Cameron Crowe, Jonathan Sanger, Harrison Ford, Elton John, 50 Cent, Hayden Panettiere, Placido Domingo, Lindsay Lohan, Janet Jackson, Truth Hurts, Richard Grieco, Billy Zane and recently the international auto maker Saab. In the Saab commercial, it features Lolita in her tank, along with a chained dog, and a bird flying against glass window, with the theme, "Release Me", including a tagline, "The Power of Nature Just Wants to be Free."

In announcing this alliance, Julia-Levy states that [The Free Willy Keiko Foundation has unique expertise in the capture and the care of orcas. They are the only non-government, non-profit organization in the world with experience in successfully translocating an adult killer whale over long distances. (Keiko, from Mexico City to Newport, OR, and then from Newport to Iceland.)

The Free Willy Keiko Foundation assembled an A-list team of veterinarians and handlers and an extraordinary amount of expertise. Although Keiko never found his family, the project is considered by many to be successful in fulfilling a promise made to millions of kids around the world -- to make Keiko free. Now they're confident if given a chance, they can help write that Hollywood ending for Lolita.

Unlike Keiko, Lolita's family exists in the waters of the Puget Sound, and she still vocalizes her family recognizable call, and through the past three decades, the Southern Resident Orca Community is now considered to be one of the most studied groups of orcas in the world. Bringing Lolita back home to her family (pod) could be a boon to the whale population in Puget Sound, as well as sending a loud and clear message to the world that animals on our planet do have a voice--it is our voice.

"There's no other group out there with the kind of knowledge and resources that the Free Willy Keiko Foundation has that can give Lolita the best chance of retirement," says Julia-Levy. "But the bottom line is, we don't own the whale," Julia-Levy is quick to note. "The Miami Seaquarium does."

However, the Seaquarium is concerned about the welfare of Lolita because she never had to find her own food, and has had constant human contact for nearly four decades; therefore, a move across the country could be too stressful. Some scientists have suggested the transport could even kill her.

Julia-Levy has a different opinion. He says, "Based on the reports we have received from leading scientists is that she's in incredible health, and that's solely because of the love and care that she's received at The Miami Seaquarium. That also makes her an exceptional candidate for safe transport and reintroduction to her natural habitat."

"Although we appreciate the support in-kind, from organizations and individuals who have come forward to yield expertise, ownership and credentials in this effort." Julia-Levy goes on to say, "It is through our exclusive alliance with the Free Willy Keiko Foundation that we can build the best bridge with the Seaquarium to work together to do the right thing for Lolita."

Inquiries about this campaign can be directed to the Earth Island Institute.

Media Contact:

David Phillips

davep @

Earth Island Institute

300 Broadway, Suite 28

San Francisco, CA 94133

(415) 788 3666 X 145

Author Information

David Phillips
Earth Island Institute