Morgan  

Estimated date of birth 1933

Died 1999 (66 years old)

 

Morgan

captured as a young whale

they called it a rescue

what they did was put her in a concrete tank

and forced her to do tricks for her food

She was put in with other Orcas

Not of her lineage

they ganged up on her

traumatized her

She was put with Keto

Keto was an aggressive adolescent orca

he impregnated her

Morgan’s health suffered

She had numerous health and welfare issues

She was frequently seen chewing on the concrete edge of her tank

Photos showed one of her teeth to be fractured, and others chipped and worn to the bone.

Videos show Morgan ramming her head into the heavy metal gate of a small medical tank

Videos show her “beaching herself” on the side of the display tank after a show.

Enough with the captures masquerading as rescues

Enough with stunt-training in the name of rehab.

Enough with breeding whales in concrete tanks in the name of animal rights.

Morgan has suffered for decades from kidnapping, abuse and profiteering 

Whales and dolphins do not belong in concrete tanks, being forced to perform for the amusement of ignorant audiences.

Still 

Still

To this day there are Orcas in captivity

It’s time for all of us who care about the wellbeing of these animals to come together and join the growing movement to Retire all these magnificent creatures to seaside sanctuaries where they can thrive.

Citizen Scientist: Julia Nicholls

Information obtained from the whale sanctuary project

 


 

Morgan’s story is a tale of betrayal, of corrupt justice, and of corporate dealing that involves not only Loro Parque, but also SeaWorld.

And it’s a classic example of why it’s time to retire all whales and dolphins to seaside sanctuaries and bring an end to this moral stain on our humanity.

Morgan’s capture as a young whale was called a rescue, and she was indeed alone and underweight. But no attempt was made to rehab her with a view to finding her family and reintroducing her to the wild. Instead, she was shipped to a tropical zoo, thousands of miles away.

The news of her pregnancy, which is a violation of the conditions of her transfer, is the latest in a shameful series of travesties to which this helpless young whale has been subjected.

In 2010, a young female orca was spotted swimming alone off the coast of the Netherlands. Morgan, as she was named, was captured and taken to a local theme park under a “rescue, rehabilitation and release” permit issued by the Dutch government.

Rather than rehabilitating her, however, the Dolfinarium Harderwijk kept her in a small tank for 18 months and taught her to do tricks with a view to sending her to Loro Parque Zoo in the Canary Islands, off the west coast of tropical Africa.

Loro Parque had close ties to SeaWorld, which would regularly send orcas, trainers and veterinarians from its facilities in the United States on loan to its transatlantic cousin.

To protect Morgan from being sent to Loro Parque, a coalition of non-profits filed suit against the Dutch government (which would issue the permit to export her). And in August 2011, the Amsterdam District Court ruled that the young whale should stay at the dolphinarium while more research was being conducted to find a permanent solution for her.

The Solution: a Seaside Sanctuary

 

The ideal solution, presented by the Free Morgan Foundation, was indeed at hand: a seaside sanctuary in a cove in the Norwegian fishing village of Stø. The cove would have a net across its opening to the ocean, and there was a strong possibility that Morgan’s family would pass by there, enabling her to communicate with her pod and potentially to rejoin them.

The citizens of Stø were enthusiastic about hosting Morgan and helping to provide for her. “I am very positive about Morgan coming to our community,” the mayor said. “I will personally look forward to helping on her road to freedom.”

Morgan Loses Her Case

At the hearings that followed, Loro Parque argued that European wildlife trade rules that prohibit the use of orcas for commercial purposes did not apply. Life in the zoo’s display tanks, they said, would give Morgan a better chance, and she would serve “educational” purposes.

Experts said this could not possibly be the case. An officer of Germany’s Federal Agency for Nature Conservation told the judge, “It is agreed among the European experts that every zoo must be considered a commercial facility, in which research or education in most circumstances has either no priority or only secondary priority.”

The Dutch ministry that had authorized the move to Loro Parque admitted that it was relying on the word of Spanish authorities (the Canary Islands are a Spanish territory) that the zoo served conservation and educational purposes, even though it had no conservation program and its “education” program consisted of a few handouts and posters.

But the judge sided with the zoo and ordered that Morgan be flown to the Canary Islands 2,000 miles to the south.

Life at Loro Parque Zoo

 

Soon after Morgan arrived at Loro Parque, the zoo began talking about her as though she was being integrated into their orca “family.” But Morgan could never be part of their family. For starters, five of the other six orcas were born at SeaWorld parks in Orlando or San Diego. Three of them were fathered by Tilikum. Morgan’s lineage was completely different. She couldn’t truly fit in, and the other whales began ganging up on her.

Despite her trauma, Morgan was regularly put in the same tank as Keto, an aggressive adolescent male from SeaWorld who had already fathered two calves at Loro Parque. (Both infants were rejected by their troubled mother.)

Incredibly, the zoo is now arguing that being bred in captivity is “a natural right of each animal.”

None of this gave pause to the zoo’s owner, Wolfgang Kiessling, who expressed delight over his new acquisition. Morgan, he said, had been sent to him as a “donation from nature” and a “new blood line” for breeding. (No mention of conservation or education.)

Meanwhile, Morgan’s health suffered. A 2016 study detailed numerous health and welfare issues, including that she had frequently been observed chewing on the concrete edge of her tank. Photos showed one of her teeth to be fractured, and others chipped and worn to the bone.

Among many other concerns are videos that show Morgan ramming her head into the heavy metal gate of a small medical tank, and show her “beaching herself” on the side of the display tank after a show.

Morgan Is Pregnant

And now she is pregnant, probably by the aggressive young Keto.

How does Loro Parque explain this, given that European law prohibits the use of a captive whale for breeding purposes, that breeding Morgan is a violation of the conditions of her transfer and that there are chemical means of birth control?

Clothing itself, incredibly, as a defender of animal rights, the zoo is now arguing that being bred in captivity is “a natural right of each animal” and one that “cannot be repressed under any circumstances.”

To which one can only reply: What about Morgan’s right not to have to spend her life in a concrete tank thousands of miles from her home?

SeaWorld Stands Aside

And where is SeaWorld in this series of travesties by its overseas partner?

Rather than pressuring Loro Parque to do the right thing, SeaWorld stood aside while the zoo allowed Morgan to be impregnated with no regard for the law or for the young whale’s continued suffering.

And in response to the news of her pregnancy, SeaWorld has quietly ended its relationship to Loro Parque, along with any effort or influence it could have had to dissuade the zoo from breeding orcas.

And these are not just any orcas, but rather orcas who came from SeaWorld itself.

Certified Humane – Really!

Rather than being condemned universally for its behavior, Loro Parque is basking in the glow of being awarded the American Humane Association’s humane certification seal of approval.

The announcement reads: “American Humane is excited to recognize Loro Parque as the very first Humane Certified™ institution in Europe.”

And in a media release, AHA’s President and CEO, Dr. Robin Ganzert, states:

“American Humane Conservation’s Humane Certified™ seal of approval helps verify for the public that the animals living in these institutions are living under high standards of verifiable humane care. We are proud to congratulate each of the twenty-five world-class facilities that have continuously proven their dedication to the responsible, humane treatment of the remarkable animals under their care.”

The Time for Seaside Sanctuaries is NOW

Enough with the captures masquerading as rescues, and stunt-training in the name of rehab.

Enough with breeding whales in concrete tanks in the name of animal rights.

And enough with the certification programs.

Whales and dolphins do not belong in concrete tanks, being forced to perform for the amusement of ignorant audiences.

It’s time for all of us who care about the wellbeing of these animals, including the nation’s major animal welfare organizations, to come together and join the growing movement to retire all these magnificent creatures to seaside sanctuaries where they can thrive.

It’s the least we can do to make up for the decades of kidnapping, abuse and profiteering that have wrecked the lives of these icons of the ocean.

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