Oklahoma City’s Kirkpatrick Foundation announces “Oklahoma Killer Whale Project”

OKLAHOMA CITY – Representatives from Oklahoma’s Kirkpatrick Foundation, Save the Illinois River, and the City of Tahlequah, along with Washington’s SR3 
(Sealife Response, Rehabilitation and Research), and the city of Des Moines, WA have joined forces to support endangered Southern Resident killer whales. 

The “Oklahoma Killer Whale Project” will raise awareness between the connection between Tahlequah, OK and Tahlequah, or “J35,” a member of the Southern Resident killer whale community.

This partnership has formed a “Sister Community” to support SR3’s Southern Resident health assessment research and connect Oklahoma-based ocean enthusiasts to the coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest, according to the press release. (https://www.mmc.gov/priority-topics/species-of-concern/southern-resident-killer-whale/) 

“In Oklahoma, we recognize the connection between our own Tahlequah — a city where environmental and animal protection has a vibrant history — and the endangered Southern Resident killer whales,” said Ed Brocksmith, Secretary & Treasurer, Save the Illinois River.

Logan Curtis, of the Tahlequah Daily Press (https://www.tahlequahdailypress.com/news/killer-whale-creates-unlikely-partnership-with-tahlequah-city/article_ec7a7871-b2a7-5422-ad1e-8f66c7bfbfef.html), reported, “because of these connections, Tahlequah Mayor Sue Catron signed a proclamation declaring a partnership between the two communities.”

Tahlequah (J35) the killer whale first captured the world’s attention when she (https://whalemuseum.org/products/j-35-tahlequah) carried her deceased calf for 17 days (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XhPZNtedXo) in 2018. 
This year she successfully gave birth (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIZ_psySkBc) to a boy (J57) in September, also gaining the attention of wildlife lovers everywhere.

The birth of this calf is considered a hopeful sign for the Southern Resident killer whale family, which is near extinction. (https://www.mmc.gov/priority-topics/species-of-concern/southern-resident-killer-whale/) 

“We are utterly delighted to celebrate the birth of this calf to Tahlequah, and we recognize this moment in time as a unique opportunity to highlight the struggles that remain to protect this species — and so many others — from pollution and, ultimately, extinction,” said Louisa McCune, Executive Director, Kirkpatrick Foundation.(https://kirkpatrickfoundation.com/) 

A large focus of the partnership is a double match fundraising effort that will be directed toward the organization’s research program, which will support conservation efforts for the Southern Resident killer whales. 

Donations will not only be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Kirkpatrick Foundation, up to $20,000, but an anonymous donor in Washington State will also match donations dollar-for-dollar, up to $40,000, in general support of the non-profit.

This fundraising opportunity allows those passionate about marine wildlife to quadruple the initiative’s impact.
Additional efforts being considered include a future Zoom Education Series, an Oklahoma Ambassadors Program making future trips to the Salish Sea (https://www.seadocsociety.org/about-the-salish-sea), and an “Oklahoma Whale Conservation Society.”

“No matter where you live, we all have a role to play in protecting our oceans,” said Casey Mclean, SR3 Executive Director and Veterinary Nurse. “Forging connections like this is an essential part of maintaining healthy marine ecosystems.

“It is heartwarming to see people from across the country coming together to protect this special population of whales,” Mclean added. “I think it shows how we can still change course here, and that should give us all hope right now.”