Morgan’s Story

The Free Morgan Foundation, in advance of a new, Nov. 1, court hearing, has released a passionate PSA calling for Morgan’s release back into the wild.

Morgan’s story is a case study in how the cover of “rehabilitation” is sometimes used as a way to bring wild marine mammals into captivity, which is always looking to diversify the gene pool. I doubt Loro Parque or any other marine park would have been so eager to bring Morgan into their collection if the Judge that authorized that decision had said that she was not to be used for breeding.

Orca Morgan’s Apprenticeship Begins

Well, actually it began almost from her first days at Harderwijk. But speaking of the relationship between humans and intelligent, social animals, here are some clips which show Morgan learning her new life as a performing orca at Loro Parque.

UPDATE: And here’s one more, from Jan. 18

Morgan’s Life At Loro Parque

I’ve been getting a lot of updates from folks who are worried about how Morgan is being treated by the other killer whales at Loro Parque. The first flurry of concern was related to this image of Morgan’s dorsal film, which was screen-capped from a video, and appears to show bite marks on Morgan’s dorsal fin.

I was also tipped to this video, which appears on a Facebook group called Occupy Loro Parque. It shows Loro Parque owner Wolfgang Kiessling walking over to the med pool after a show, to discuss Morgan and take a look at her dorsal with two trainers.  Fast forward to the 2:20 mark, where Kiessling makes an appearance:

Finally, I was sent a link to this video, which appears to show Morgan, Kohana and Skyla swimming together in the main show pool. I am not enough of an expert on killer whale behavior to evaluate whether Morgan is being harassed or chased, and what her vocals indicate. But the video does show what appears to be this pretty nasty rake along her side.

Here is the full video, for comment and analysis.

UPDATE: Since I posted the above video it has been removed from YouTube. It has been republished here by someone who wanted to preserve the record of Morgan’s life at Loro Parque. Here is the republished version:

The social grouping at Loro Parque has always been a volatile one, and it is impressive to see the degree to which Morgan’s welfare there is being tracked with such passion and commitment.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Today, December 24, is the 2-year anniversary of the death of Alexis Martinez, who was killed by Keto at Loro Parque on Dec. 24, 2009. I never met Alexis, but I have met his family. They are wonderful, caring, people who are handling a tragic loss with courage and  grace. I am amazed by their strength and they deserve all the love and support the world can offer them on this most difficult day of the year.

Morgan Meets Skyla

My personal opinion was that a chance to return to life in the wild (with all its uncertainties) was very much the right ethical choice over a life as an entertainer and breeder at Loro Parque.

But I also think that this (so far):

Is better than this:

Orca Morgan’s Transport To Loro Parque

There is something quite extraordinary about moving orcas from one place to another. Part of it is the sophistication of the planning and the technology that has evolved to make this commonplace. Part of it is the awareness that the orca is a very intelligent and aware animal, which makes me wonder just what, exactly, an orca being transported must be thinking.

Here is what Morgan’s trip from Dolfinarium Harderwijk to Loro Parque involved on the Harderwijk side:

And here are some pictures of her arrival at the other end, where it appears she will become part of SeaWorld’s orca “collection” (full set here).


Now we wait and see how the integration into Loro Parque’s fractious group goes.

Morgan Heading To Loro Parque

Morgan, the killer whale “rescued” in the Wadden Sea, and nursed back to health at the Dolfinarium at Harderwijk, won’t be going back to the ocean, a Dutch judge has ruled. Instead, she’ll be sent to Loro Parque, where she will join the five orcas owned by SeaWorld.

It will be a challenging transition. Loro Parque is where trainer Alexis Martinez was killed in 2009, by Keto (my story on that tragedy is here). And it is a marine park with a very unstable social grouping, with the most visible manifestation being the severe scarring on the male, Tekoa.

Loro Parque also has a young calf, Adan, who is just over a year old. And to add to the potential complexity of adding Morgan to the Loro Parque mix, there is a lot of speculation among people who follow orcas and the marine parks closely that Kohana, the mother of Adan, is pregnant again. There has been no confirmation or comment either way from Loro Parque about this. But this is what Kohana looks like these days.

I am no expert, but here are some recent videos of Kohana a friend sent me, with the following comment:

She’s starting to get chunky enough that you should be able to pick her out as being the fat one even if you can’t ID her well otherwise. She looks way too big now for it to just be some change in her weight or something.

What do you think?

UPDATE: I just got solid confirmation that Kohana is in fact pregnant. So, with the addition of Morgan, Loro Parque is headed toward seven orcas, unless they move one or more out over the next year.

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