Actor and Philanthropist Raul Julia-Levy's Passionate Quest for Lolita's Freedom Gains Momentum

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The Free Willy Foundation, under the umbrella of the Earth Island Institution, joins Hollywood's elite calling for the release of a captive Orca whale.

With Permut, Longi and Donnor on board, we maintain of unwavering confidence and hope in releasing Lolita from her exploitative existence at the Miami Seaquarium

Imagine roaming around in an eight by ten room for the rest of your life, receiving the same food day in, day out, at the same time, performing the same routine over and over again. Feeling claustrophobic? Depressed? That's how Lolita feels as she swims in an 18 feet deep, 35 feet by 80 feet tank, only a fraction of the vast ocean she once explored, eating the same ration of fish and jumping through the same hoops.

Lolita is the orca whale held captive at the Miami Seaquarium for the past 37 years. Recently her story has made international news as celebrities have stood behind the campaign for her release. On January 23, Newsweek ran an article about Lolita titled "Free Lolita! A Whale Story" that explains in detail the whale's inhumane plight.

Recent media coverage has compared Lolita's story to that of Keiko, the orca star of the Free Willy movies, directed by Richard Donner. In 1994, the Earth Island Institution (EII) established the Free Willy Keiko Foundation (FWKF) that eventually realized its mission of successfully rehabilitating Keiko to his oceanic home in the volcanic Westman Islands of Iceland.

For the Keiko Project, the Free Willy Keiko Foundation received generous assistance from the Earth Island Institute and numerous other foundations. According to EII's website, the organization "works for solutions to environmental problems by promoting citizen action and incubating a diverse network of projects."

The rehabilitation of Keiko involved many steps. First the FWKF negotiated the donation of Keiko from the Reino Aventura amusement park to the project. After successfully transporting Keiko from Mexico City to Oregon, the rehabilitation team built a rehab pool, and eventually a sea pen when Keiko was returned to Iceland to assimilate to his native waters. When Keiko lived in the sea pen, the team re-taught him to eat live fish and other skills to live in the wild.

Keiko's story gives scientists, activists, philanthropists, and Hollywood producers, directors and actors inspiration to forge ahead with the efforts to free Lolita. The latest coup for the campaign to retire Lolita is the recent involvement of the Earth Island Institution: The Keiko Foundation.

Raul Julia-Levy, celebrity spokesman for Lolita's release, said, "Having the Earth Island Institution aligned with our efforts brings a one-two punch to our campaign. We now have the experience of Richard Donner in our quest to free Lolita."

Donner, also the executive producer of Free Willy, raised money and assembled a cast of thousands for the rescue, rehabilitation and release of Keiko. Knowing the controversy surrounding the release of a whale held for entertainment purposes, Donner brings to the equation his compassion and inspiration.

Another high-powered individual to join the campaign is music legend Elton John. In an article published in the Times Colonists, Elton John stated in a letter found on his website, "I have been deeply moved by efforts to free Lolita and wish to add my name to the campaign to return her to home waters, where she can hopefully reunite with her family."

"She has spent most of her life performing daily in a small tank and I wish to add my voice to those others who are attempting to see her either freed or fully cared for in retirement in a sea-pen within the waters where she was captured almost 30 years ago," said Julia-Levy. "A powerful group has been meeting the past two weeks to strategize for the campaign. The Miami Seaquarium won't know what hit them."

Adding to the humanitarian efforts are recent recruits David Permut who produced the 1996 blockbuster Face/Off and Steve Longi who co-produced the recently released Charlie Bartlett. Permut and Longi join Oscar-winning producer Jonathan Sanger, best known for producing Vanilla Sky and Mission Impossible, and Anna and the King and The Martian Child's producer Ed Elbert in the battle to free Lolita.

"With Permut, Longi and Donnor on board, we maintain of unwavering confidence and hope in releasing Lolita from her exploitative existence at the Miami Seaquarium," said Julia-Levy.

Julia-Levy encourages private citizens concerned about anthropomorphic mammals like Lolita to contribute to the campaign for Lolita's release by donating to the Keiko Foundation.

Further information about the Earth Island Institute may be obtained from their website or by contacting:

David Phillips
Earth Island Institute
300 Broadway, Suite 28
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 788 3666 X 145


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