Raul Julia-Levy's tiniest soldier in fight to free killer whale
SEATTLE, WA -- Inspired by actor/producer/philanthropist and animal welfare activist Raul Julia-Levy, a nine-year-old boy has taken on what has become the biggest challenge of his young life.
Seattle native Trevor Beavers, an animal rights enthusiast, has joined a growing number of conservationists worldwide in an active demonstration of concern to help free Lolita, a killer whale, from entertainment captivity.
More than 30 years before Beavers was born, a four-year-old Lolita was captured off the shores of Whidbey Island. Her captors used speedboats, airplanes and explosives to force the entire southern resident orca community into a narrow cove where as many as 100 orca whales were corralled. Surviving young whales were shipped to marine parks around the world.
Since Lolita's capture on August 8, 1970, she has been living and performing at Seaquarium in Miami, FL, and is reportedly the oldest orca whale currently in captivity.
Protesters argue that Lolita, now in her 40's, should be allowed to return to her native waters where her life expectancy could be lengthened. When not entertaining tourists, Lolita is being housed in the smallest and oldest whale tank in North America.
Although a growing number of animal rights organizations have rallied behind Lolita's retirement and subsequent freedom, Beavers has gravitated toward Julia-Levy, a likable and community-oriented celebrity who has united some of the biggest names and more powerful political activists in the entertainment industry to join his growing army of supporters.
Some of Julia-Levy's lieutenants include the likes of Wesley Snipes, Johnny Depp, Harrison Ford, Janet Jackson, Sir Elton John and Plácido Domingo, to name a few. For a list of other celebrity supporters, go here.
Beavers may not have reached celebrity status by Hollywood standards, but he has undoubtedly earned a bright star in Julia-Levy's eyes.
"I love this kid and his energy," said Julia-Levy of his tiniest and youngest soldier.
On May 15, 2010, young Beavers will join his family, friends and other supporters in what is being hailed as part of an international demonstration aimed at raising public awareness to Lolita's plight.
At issue is a marine mammal that is capable of swimming up to 35 miles an hour and diving as far as 500 feet under the sea. However, Lolita subsists in a tank that is only 80 feet long and just 20 feet at its deepest point.
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulations stipulate that the primary enclosure for a killer whale must have a minimum width of no less than 48 feet.
Protesters contend that the tank in which Lolita has lived for decades is, in fact, in federal violation and a detriment to the killer whale's longevity. In the wild, an orca whale can live to age 90, if not longer.
According to the plan, Lolita has a good chance to live out the rest of her life peacefully in a sea-pen sanctuary in the San Juan Islands, and eventually be reintroduced to the wild and her family.
"I can't wait for the day when we see Trevor kneeling in the sand next to the words,'Welcome Home Lolita'," said supporter Lorrie Barton Morris.
Julia-Levy could not agree more.