Battle to give Lolita the same freedom as Willy

They freed Willy, at least in the movies, so why not liberate Lolita in real life? "Free Lolita the killer whale" has become a war cry from the United States's north-west coast to the sun-drenched beaches of Florida.

Lolita, named for her flirtatious nature, is knocking on a bit at 31 but is still delighting audiences at the Seaquarium in Miami's Key Biscayne after 25 years in captivity. Wielding a brush between her teeth, she has become known for her highly impressionistic paintings but has been in a blue period since her boyfriend Hugo died 15 years ago.

Now, mammal lovers at the two extremes of the nation are split over whether she should be retired and sent back to her friends in the chilly waters of Puget Sound, off Washington state in the north-west, where she was captured in 1970. The big question is: after 25 years of being pampered and hand-fed, could she survive in the wild?

Washington's state governor, Mike Lowry, says she could. He says he got the idea for the "Free Lolita" campaign when he visited location shooting at Puget Sound last year for a sequel to the popular film Free Willy, in which a boy releases a whale from captivity.

The owners of the Miami Seaquarium, where Lolita is the star dollar-earner, suggest Mr Lowry may have ulterior motives. They note he has been embroiled in a growing sex scandal this year after four women accused him of hands- on sexual harassment. His flirtation with Lolita is a timely distraction, they say.

The other day, Mr Lowry, a Democrat, solemnly proclaimed that Lolita should be brought home "to retire as a citizen of Washington state". His campaign has already found an echo at the other end of the nation. A Florida magazine publisher has offered $2m (£1.27m) for her freedom, financed "Free Lolita" ads at bus stops and set up a telephone hotline to win support for the release of the five-ton flirt.

Richard Donner, producer of Free Willy, said he would feature Lolita in publicity for the sequel, called The Adventure Home and due out in July, to press the case for her freedom.

"(It) would be an exciting experiment in social biology ...very much like Terry Waite or Terry Anderson returning home," one marine biologist told the Miami Herald newspaper.

Other whale-lovers disagree. She may be unable to forage for herself, may be rejected or attacked by her own pod, or social group, and may be reduced to doing her stunt routine to get fed by passing fishing boats, they say.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world