May 15, 2012
This is a segment from the nationally-syndicated, Emmy Award-winning 1999 special, “Baby Wild Films Presents: The Killer Whale People,” hosted by Heart’s Nancy Wilson.
It features for the first time in a television broadcast the complete restored color 16mm film of the Penn Cove orca roundup of August 1970 in which seven presumably Southern Resident orcas were taken, including Lolita, and as many as four drowned in the nets. The special also features the first-ever TV interview with diver John Crowe, who worked on the Penn Cove capture and was in charge of secretly disposing the carcasses of the drowned orcas, to avoid them being counted in the “take.”
The Penn Cove capture footage nearly disappeared. A rusting film canister of the film was discovered in 1993 in the archives of KING Television (NBC Seattle) by Contributing Network Producer/Filmmaker Michael Harris, who was on the staff of KING at the time. Several years later, KING 5 News inadvertently used without authorization wild killer whale footage owned by Harris’ company, Baby Wild Films, in a KING 5 News promotional announcement, incurring a licensing fee of over $10,000. To settle that debt and avoid legal action, KING agreed to issue full, unrestricted rights and license of the Penn Cove footage to Baby Wild Films, in addition to the rest of the station-owned orca capture footage from 1970 to the last roundup in Puget Sound, at Budd Inlet, WA in 1975. Harris then re-transferred and painstakingly restored the Penn Cove film, first donating use of it to Orca Conservancy (Tokitae Foundation at the time) for a powerful 1997 national public service announcement he wrote and produced with actress Linda Evans and recording artist Yanni entitled, “Make a Call, for the Wild,” calling for the stop of orca captures around the world and the retirement of Lolita from her incarceration in Miami Seaquarium. That PSA campaign was a huge success and led to a renewed surge of interest in Lolita’s plight, including the Keith Morrison-reported expose on Lolita and Seaquarium on “NBC: DATELINE,” on which Harris was Field Producer and provided significant amounts of both capture and wild Southern Resident orca footage.
The registered copyright for the film of the Penn Cove roundup and other orca capture footage from Puget Sound is SOLELY OWNED by KING Television (A. H. Belo Corporation) and Baby Wild Films (also dba Outpost Productions). Baby Wild Films has full rights to offer this footage to any party. If you or your organization wishes to disseminate it for any reason, contact Baby Wild Films at [email protected] If it’s for a good cause, they would be happy to provide you anything you need, often for free. However, if it is determined that any parties are using this footage without proper authorization, the owners will seek all legal remedies. Please be respectful with this rare and extremely valuable film.