The Latest News on Corky - December 1998


It's just after midnight, B.C. time, on the saddest day of Corky's year... the anniversary of her capture in Pender Harbour, TWENTY NINE YEARS AGO. We're going to take this day to think about Corky and imagine her back home, in the ocean with her family, where she belongs. We'd like you to join us. Think about it... and she will come.

It's probably impossible to imagine being shut off from family, friends, home, for that length of time... and equally impossible to imagine enduring, and surviving, such an ordeal. Yet Corky has endured, and survived. She still remains strong... strong enough to still be the energetic star of Sea World's show, and more than strong enough to make the journey home. Our task, surely, is so much simpler and easier than Corky's has been... we just have to figure out how to get her between there (San Diego) and here (Blackfish Sound).


This past summer a bunch of us (from all corners of our world) milled around on Hanson Island talking about Corky, as her family swam back & forth past us. Here's what we came up with... believe it... a journey from San Diego to Blackfish Sound!

The centerpiece of the journey will be CORKY'S FANTASTIC FREEDOM BANNER. You'll remember it, we're sure... the incredible effort that kids from 15 countries around the world put into creating its 14,000 patches and 2.5km length... the great Mother's Day event in San Diego in 1996... the tour of Europe last Spring in that Big Pink Bus.

We'll start Corky's symbolic journey home by laying out CORKY'S FREEDOM BANNER along a beach in San Diego. Then we'll have a hot air balloon hoist it high into the sky... making it the world's tallest banner. Then we'll load it aboard a bus and set off for Freshwater Bay in Blackfish Sound... where Corky's half way house will be. Along the way, up the coast in California, through Oregon, Washingon, and British Columbia, we'll stop for a day or two in perhaps a dozen places. There, we'll connect with schools that are involved in making CORKY'S BANNER grow; we'll leave behind sections of the BANNER for longer display as a kids' art exhibit in galleries, community centers or libraries; we'll hold local press conferences; and we'll hold evening events for the public... perhaps even a festival or two for Corky.

In at least one town, Corky will be welcomed with a marching band. Of course, the whole idea is to make a lot of noise and create a lot of notice (= attention) for Corky. By the time we reach Pender Harbour, where she was captured so long ago, CORKY'S FREEDOM TRAIN will be rolling... and by the time it reaches Alert Bay we'll know why that little village is called "home of the killer whale". Alert Bay will welcome Corky and her GREAT BANNER with open arms, and from it a flotilla of vessels will provide an escort to Freshwater Bay. CORKY'S FREEDOM BANNER will line the perimeter of the bay, strung between boats... and if they've understood our script, Corky's family will parade past while we're there.

There are a lot of pieces to put together to make this happen. Here's some of what we need:

  • Schools & kids (actually, anybody) willing to help make more patches for CORKY'S FREEDOM BANNER. They can be anywhere in the world.
  • Individuals or groups in towns and cities along the route (coastal in California) inland through Oregon & Washington, coastal in B.C.) willing to help organise local school involvement, venues for displaying the BANNER, press conferences, evening events.
  • A bus (we think we've found it).
  • People to ride the bus & help. (Not necessarily the same people all the way).
  • A hot air balloon in San Diego.
  • Helicopters for filming from the air in San Diego & Freshwater Bay.
  • Musicians.
  • A videographer with a good camera (maybe more than one).
  • A crackerjack lawyer.
  • Money, not a lot, to put it all together.

You'll get the picture, we hope... and we hope that at least some of you will be jumping up with your hands in the air by now, wanting in. Here's what to do.

If you're in North America, email Anna Spong

If you're in Europe, email Niki Entrup

If you're in Australia, email Jo & Andy Tilbury

If you're anywhere, email us at

Let's get that freedom train rollin', ok...

Thinking of her,

Paul & Helena.

ps: We're still amazed by the way in which Keiko's life has turned around so dramatically. His was a much more difficult journey than Corky's will be... and he's almost home free. We take immense encouragement from that fact... for Corky, for Lolita, and for all the other captives too.

pps: LATE BREAKING FLASH. The storm that's starting to wind up tonight is too common an occurrence around here to be considered a sign, even though that was the kind of night that happened for Corky & her family 29 years ago. But how about this... just as we were getting ready to send this out, and after an unusual full month of orca silence on our hydrophones, suddenly there are ORCAS CALLING IN BLACKFISH SOUND! Hmmm.

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