At the time, however, relatively scant attention was being paid to the plight of captive orcas. "There was no news item, nothing to write a story about, until February 2010, when the trainer was killed in Orlando," Garrett said, referring to Dawn Brancheau, who was dragged into a pool and pummeled by the 12,000-pound male Tilikum. "Then the media and everybody else seemed to come out of their dormant stage and realize this has to end, this is ridiculous. And that's when many things happened."
The tragedy breathed new life into Orca Network's Free Lolita campaign, which includes a detailed proposal on retiring Lolita from her tiny - many would say illegal - quarters to a sea sanctuary on San Juan Island, where her family spends large amounts of time. The goal of Saturday's march is to see that this retirement finally happens - after so many long and lonely years.
Lolita's story is not a felicitous one. She was likely born between 1966 and 1968, before being captured at a tender age in 1970. "Penn Cove was a brutal roundup," said Garrett, who was featured in the 2013 documentary "Blackfish," in which he describes the mass capture. "Seven young whales were removed and delivered to aquariums, and at least four were killed. Lolita was shipped to the Seaquarium, where there was already a young male orca, Hugo, who was also captured in Puget Sound. He was probably a Southern Resident relative."