This isn’t a post I should be making. It should be clear to anyone who understands the situation of Morgan the orca how wrong it is.
However, as it stands, many people had no idea what happened in Morgan’s case, or why she is different to the other captive orcas across the world. On this, the fourth anniversary of her addition to the orca collection at Loro Parque, I thought it would be beneficial to raise some more awareness on her part of the plight that she is in. I will be covering more of Morgan in my Whale Wednesday posts in the future, but just in case she doesn’t live long enough to be included, I’d like to dedicate this post to her.
Why Is Morgan Different?
Unlike many of the orca that find themselves in captivity, Morgan wasn’t caught because they needed another performance animal. Instead, she was witnessed in the wild behaving in an obviously distressed way, and was captured with the intention to help her back to full health before releasing her back to her pod.
The community that rescued her are known as the Dolfinarium Harderwijk, a captive dolphin facility in the Netherlands where Morgan was found. She was caught and kept under a specific ‘rescue, rehabilitation and release’ permit which meant that once she had been rescued and nursed back to health, she would be released back into the wild. However, in November of 2011, Morgan was transferred to a park in Tenerife, known as Loro Parque.
If you have seen Blackfish (and if you haven’t, I urge you to stop reading now and go and do so), you will know the reputation of Loro Parque. It was the scene for one of the high profile killer whale incidents where a trainer was killed while in the water with one of the whales.
She was considered to be the first orca taken into captivity for over 20 years, which makes her incredibly valuable to the captivity industry; her bloodline is new, so they have another female to breed from without crossing bloodlines.
Her “Home” at Loro Parque
When she was flown from Norway to Tenerife, Morgan found herself in a tank with captive-bred orcas from SeaWorld parks in America. These whales had never experienced the ocean like she had, and they were strange mixes of the different ecotypes of orca that can be found around the world, who would never naturally breed together.
As you may expect, these orcas who had come to recognise and understand each other didn’t approve to this new, wild addition to their artificial “pod”, and it has been noted many times by marine biologists and cetacean specialists that the interactions between Morgan and other whales tends to have agressive undertones, with Morgan bearing some incredible scars over the years. She has also been observed harming herself- creating deep gashes on her rostrum (her “nose”) and her lower jaws from persistent banging on the sides of her tank.
In the clip above, you can see the damage to her rostrum.
Ot should also be noted that some sites have claimed that Loro Parque are saying she is deaf, however there is evidence that this isn’t true at all and Loro Parque describe her hearing issues as “impairment”- they are simply looking for reasons not to release her into the wild.
Like many animals in captivity, they can’t speak up for themselves. Morgan only understands that when she performs, she gets food. I think you’ll all agree, that in a similar situation that we could do nothing about, we’d do the same and resign ourselves to this new “life”.
However, luckily for Morgan, there are people in the world who care, and who haven’t forgotten the terms under which she was captured. Although the Dutch court may have reached a verdict which proved that the Dutch Minister for Agriculture had lawfully in granted permission for Morgan to be transferred to Loro Parque back in 2103, the original terms were broken, and there should be some way to get Morgan back to her family.
The Free Morgan Foundation was set up by orca specialist Dr. Ingrid Visser who has never given up on helping Morgan get back to her pod. Please check out their website if you would like to help them out with setting Morgan free, or simply educate yourself more on her situation.
Please, before you buy a ticket to a dolphin show- wherever it may be, think twice. These animals are being stolen from their families for your entertainment. Even a sick animal who was supposed to be helped and released has been dragged into the captive industry due to greed.
We will find a way to free you one day.