Despite the recent successes in getting SeaWorld in the US to stop its breeding programme and to cease its live performances with its captive killer whales, it seems that the stresses of captivity are still proving too much for the killer whales currently living at Loro Parque, a popular tourist destination on the Canary Islands.
According to animal campaign group called The Dolphin Project, Morgan the killer whale currently at the park attempted to beach herself during a performance, behaviour which is often a sign of distress.
The tragic video shot by people calling themselves 'Morgan Monitors' shows the poor orca beach itself on a concrete slide out for about 10 minutes.
Morgan, unlike the animals kept at US SeaWorld resorts such as Tilikum, was taken from the wild in 2010 when she was rescued in poor condition in the Netherlands by a local theme park, Dolfinarium Harderwijk. Since then the Dutch government had issued a “rescue, rehabilitation and release” permit, however in 2011 it was deemed she wasn't suitable to be released and was subsequently transferred to Loro Parque in Tenerife.
While beaching behaviour can mean many things for killer whales, those attempting to free Morgan say that this is a stark reminder of why killer whales shouldn't be kept captive.
“While we cannot explain the reason for her behaviour, the juxtaposition of a previously-wild orca against the stark backdrop of the park’s performance area is unsettling, to say the least.
“Some people took selfies with Morgan in the background. Sadly, Morgan was still out of the water.”
Some viewers who've watched the video have described Morgan's actions as a cry for help or a suicide attempt, however the park officials are stating that this is not the case and part of an anti-zoo agenda that is currently sweeping the media after the deaths of multiple animals including Harambe the gorilla.
In a statement shared by Sky News the park officials said:
"The orcas at Loro Parque are trained to leave the water on their own accord. This behaviour is used for manifold purposes, for example, for presenting the animals to the public, for conducting corporal check-ups, for inspecting their blowholes, as well as for testing hearing abilities of the orcas."
Nonetheless the video has sparked fresh Twitter and social media campaigns to have Morgan freed. You can find out more by visiting the Free Morgan Foundation.
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