Oceans Conservation

Hollywood producer Raul Julia-Levy's current project involves an impressive cast ranging from Johnny Depp, Lindsay Lohan, and Harrison Ford to Elton John, 50 Cent, and Plácido Domingo. He's attracted high-powered producers including Cameron Crowe, Ed Elbert, and Ron Howard. It's a veritable A-list role call, and he's still recruiting.

But the brightest star in Julia-Levy's lineup -- and no doubt the biggest, at 7,000 pounds -- is Lolita, a 40-year-old killer whale living in a 20-foot-deep tank at the Miami Seaquarium. Taken from her family while still a juvenile, Lolita has been performing for sunburnt tourists twice a day over the last 37 years. The tank she lives in is just four times her size at its widest; she'd have to circle it more than 600 times to travel the same distance her still-wild family members might in an average day. Her only companion -- another killer whale from her pod, or family group -- died 20-some years ago after repeatedly bashing his own head against the enclosure walls. In her native Pacific Northwest waters, whales like Lolita have lifespans similar to humans; in a tank, that life expectancy is cut in half.

"The conditions that she lives in are barbaric," Julia-Levy shouts to me over the phone, unable to contain his anger. He decided to get involved in the campaign to free Lolita last year, when he learned that it was in need of star power. But as spokesperson for the glittery troops he's amassed, Julia-Levy -- the son of actor Raul Julia -- emphasizes that he and the other Lolita-loving producers and celebrities are involved as regular citizens, not activists. "We are people who have consciences," he says, "and everyone in this campaign from Hollywood has a mind of their own, and we believe that what we're doing is the right thing simply because animals should live in their normal habitat."

Julia-Levy's passion for this campaign was evident just a few moments into our conversation -- and his fervor shows no signs of waning. When asked what's next, he hinted at a plan "involving a 'big stick,'" but said he couldn't elaborate just yet. No doubt when he does, he'll have plenty of star power behind him.

How did you first hear about Lolita and get involved in the campaign?

I knew about Lolita for a long time, but it was probably about a year ago when I really got involved with the campaign. I was actually a little depressed because my little dog had just died -- he was 9 years old. It was a very tough time for me, and I was looking at pictures of my dog on the internet and then I came across ... [a video] of Lolita and the conditions of where she lives. And I got even more depressed. Then I did a little bit of research on the situation and I contacted the Keiko Foundation, which is [under the umbrella of] the Earth Island Institute. They're the ones that have the vast experience relocating animals to their natural habitat -- like Keiko [the star of Free Willy] and Springer.

Who all is on board so far?

The latest one to join the campaign is Elton John. We have some of the most powerful producers on board: Jonathan Sanger, Ed Elbert, Richard Donner (who was behind the Keiko campaign and was extremely instrumental in the release of Keiko), David Permut, Steve Longi. We have a wide range of celebrities, too, including Johnny Depp, 50 Cent, [Hayden Panettiere, Lindsay Lohan, Plácido Domingo, Janet Jackson, Ringo Starr], Harrison Ford ... the list is pretty extensive. We really just want to send the right message. We want people to educate themselves and to learn and know that it is not possible for an animal of that magnitude, that large, that in her normal habitat is used to traveling long distances -- at least 80 to 150 miles a day -- to be confined in a small, little tank, day after day, night after night for the past 30-something years. That's not normal. That animal needs to go back to her normal habitat.

What does it say about our culture that it wasn't until these famous faces got attached to the campaign that people started to pay attention?

Unfortunately, in our society nobody listens to your next-door neighbor when he raises his voice. ...

When celebrities speak loud and stand up, it seems like everybody listens, it seems like everybody takes it more seriously, and I don't understand why normal people do not do the same thing ... This is work that we all have to do as citizens. We all have to raise our voices when something is not right. Why do we have to wait for celebrities to raise their voices first?

Is it the responsibility of celebrities then -- because they are influencing the public this way -- to research these organizations and get involved?

I think it's everybody's issue ... every citizen in this country has the same responsibility as any celebrity in Hollywood. Everybody should be responsible for taking care of our environment, our water, our animals. This responsibility belongs to everyone.

The bed we're gonna be sleeping in tomorrow, we're making it today.

What do you say to the argument that Lolita shouldn't be moved?

Those who oppose this are extremely arrogant. Who are they to say that animals cannot be relocated? If you put a person in a cage for 30 years and you ask him to choose -- "Do you want to get out of that cage or do you want to stay there?" -- what do you think he's going to say? He's gonna say he wants to get out of that cage. Unfortunately, animals cannot speak. That's why we need to speak for those animals who cannot speak for themselves.

For those who say, "Oh, the animal is happy here because we love him," it's completely erroneous. Animals need to be loved by humans -- but in their normal habitat. Meaning: Respected. We need to respect their habitat; we need to respect their privacy; and we need to respect their freedom. I don't want to love animals in captivity; I want to let them go. And this animal surely deserves to go back to her family, to her normal habitat. This animal has paid the highest price of her life: Being confined to a cage for 37 years. I can tell you 100 percent that animal cannot wait for the day to come that she's going to be free.

Speaking of raising voices -- tell me about the benefit concert. Is that still in the works?

It's part of our plans to put on a benefit concert -- absolutely. We want to do it in Miami, a couple of blocks from the Seaquarium. We're planning a series of events. But right now, our team is in the process of negotiations with the Seaquarium. We will try every single diplomatic road to resolve this situation properly for both parties. This has to be a winning situation for both parties.

I think [Seaquarium owner Arthur] Hertz should really think about this because he's got a whale that's not going to live more than five years in that tank. And he can come out of this one looking like a hero. It's up to him. But like I said, our team is putting together a diplomatic plan to negotiate the situation, make both parties win, and do the right thing.

So that's the first step ... and if that doesn't work?

Then the campaign goes to a whole new level ...



  • Corte reconoce a Raúl Julia Levy Como Hijo Legítimo de Raúl Julia.

    Una jueza federal se opuso la exhumación del cuerpo del famoso actor de Hollywood, Raúl Julia y reconoció a su hijo mayor, Raúl Julia Levy.

    Desde hace tiempo, el productor y filántropo exigió a una Corte federal en Los Ángeles, exhumar el cadáver de su padre, y al mismo tiempo demandó que él y sus dos supuestos hermanos se hicieran un examen de ADN, a lo que la viuda de su padre, Merel Polloway, se negó.

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    El animal fue nombrado 'Pablito' y tiene 13 años de edad.

    El actor hollywoodense Raúl Julia Levy pagará la quimioterapia y diálisis de un perro rescatado de la calle, el cual tendrá un costo de 30 mil dólares.

  • Roban filmación sobre Calakmul y Jaina; denuncian dilación de la PGR

    Material fílmico de la zona arqueológica de Calakmul, Campeche, el cual sería utilizado para uno de los documentales más esperados de los últimos años a nivel internacional, fue robado y sustraído de manera ilegal del país.

    El caso ocurrido en 2012 -hasta ahora develado por Crónica- ha encerrado corruptelas, dilación e indiferencia por parte de la PGR y de la Procuraduría estatal, así como desencuentros entre el Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) y organismos independientes ligados al cine y la televisión en Estados Unidos, lo que lo convierte en potencial conflicto binacional.

  • Hollywood deja México por violencia e incertidumbre jurídica: Raúl Julia

    El saqueo de material fílmico inédito de las zonas arqueológicas de Calakmul y Jaina, en Campeche, parece ser sólo una pieza en el engranaje nacional de inseguridad e incertidumbre jurídica…

    De acuerdo con datos de la Organización de Productores Asociados de Hollywood, en los últimos 4 años se han dejado de filmar en territorio nacional al menos 100 películas y de invertir más de 2 mil 300 millones de dólares que habrían generado empleos a técnicos y otros trabajadores mexicanos.

  • Renato Sales sí fue enterado del robo del material fílmico de Calakmul

    Nuevos documentos oficiales obtenidos por Crónica, comprueban que Renato Sales Heredia, entonces procurador general de Justicia de Campeche, fue enterado del robo y sustracción ilegal de material fílmico de la zona arqueológica de Calakmul y Jaina, tan sólo dos días después de los hechos.

    El 16 de abril de 2012, bajo el título “Se solicita colaboración”, el agente del Ministerio Público local Angélica Concepción Hernández Calderón dirigió al hoy fiscal nacional antisecuestro un escrito en el cual le describía el asunto y le pedía buscar la colaboración de las procuradurías de todos los estados de la República para localizar y presentar a la millonaria polaca Elizabeth Thieriot y a los demás implicados en el asunto.

  • No fue competencia de la procuraduría de Campeche: Renato Sales

    La denuncia de supuesto robo y sustracción de material fílmico de la Zona Arqueológica de Calakmul, Campeche, o la posible violación a Ley Federal sobre Monumentos, Zonas, Arqueológicas, Artísticos e Históricos, no implicaron la competencia de la Procuraduría General de Justicia de ese estado.

    Así lo dijo el coordinador nacional Antisecuestros, Renato Sales Heredia, quien señaló que el pasado 19 de mayo fue remitido por la PGR a esa dependencia estatal el desglose en copia certificada de la averiguación previa CCH-2453/1ERA/2012, con relación a la cual se determinó, el 30 de septiembre de 2013, el No Ejercicio de la Acción Penal (NEAP) respecto a conductas presumiblemente delictuosas del orden federal.

  • Exige Imcine a autoridades resolver robo del material fílmico de Calakmul

    El Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía (Imcine) demandó resolver el caso de robo y sustracción ilegal del país de material fílmico inédito de la zona arqueológica de Calakmul, en Campeche.

    “El asunto representa algo muy fuerte en términos de que el afectado ha presentado una demanda y habría ya que darle seguimiento y aclarar los hechos”, dijo Lorenza Manrique, directora de Apoyo a la Producción Cinematográfica y de la Comisión Mexicana de Filmaciones.

  • Especialista: en caso Calakmul hay responsabilidad penal

    Ante la violación de diversos artículos constitucionales y otras leyes, códigos y reglamentos, es viable interponer un juicio político por el caso Calakmul en contra del ex procurador y el actual procurador de justicia del Estado de Campeche, concluyó la doctora Betty Zanolli Fabila, especialista en derecho y procuración de justicia del Tecnológico de Monterrey y de la UNAM.

    Al realizar un análisis jurídico de las normas involucradas, la catedrática consideró que Renato Sales Heredia -ex procurador de Campeche- y el actual procurador José Ambrosio Herrera “incurrieron en responsabilidades políticas, administrativas y sobre todo penales, por lo cual la procedencia de un juicio político permitiría denunciarlos por los delitos de abuso de autoridad y ejercicio indebido del servicio público.

  • Venden y difunden en el extranjero material fílmico robado de Calakmul

    Material fílmico de la zona arqueológica de Calakmul, en Campeche, que había sido robado y sustraído de manera ilegal del país desde hace más de dos años, comenzó a ser difundido y comercializado en el extranjero en perjuicio del patrimonio cultural del país.

    Las imágenes fueron publicadas en el avance de un documental denominado “Revelaciones de los Mayas y mentiras de Hollywood”, realizado por Elisabeth Thieriot, millonaria polaca radicada en Estados Unidos que el 14 de abril de 2012 sustrajo los videos de territorio nacional, según consta en la denuncia promovida ante la Procuraduría de Campeche por el productor de Hollywood, Raúl Julia Levy, único con permiso del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) para obtener la filmación…

  • “Árbitro” de EU cedió a Thieriot los derechos sobre filme de Calakmul

    El 9 de mayo de 2012, a menos de un mes de robar y sacar del país imágenes de las zonas arqueológicas de Calakmul y Jaina consideradas patrimonio nacional, la millonaria Elisabeth Thieriot solicitó a un árbitro independiente de Hollywood cederle los derechos del material fílmico –arbitraje No. 12-52—.

    Presentó, como prueba, testimonios falsos: los de tres técnicos mexicanos que participaban en la filmación –contratados por el productor Raúl Julia Levy, él único con permiso del INAH para grabar y usar los videos en el documental Revelaciones de los Mayas 2012 y más allá— y quienes le habían ayudado a huir de México, vía Guatemala, el 14 de abril de ese año.