Once again animal lovers are calling for SeaWorld to take responsibility for all of its orcas, after video footage surfaced of a SeaWorld-owned killer whale beaching itself after a performance at the Canary Islands’ attraction Loro Parque.
The footage, posted by Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, shows an orca named Morgan lying on a concrete slab, which she launched herself on following a performance at the park. According to Huffington Post, the animal stayed still and despondent for over 10 minutes.
Visitors and staff at Loro Parque, which has five SeaWorld-owned orcas, don’t appear to show much concern over Morgan’s unnatural behavior. Online viewers reacted differently, expressing concern that Morgan was attempting to kill herself and that she should be released by the park into an ocean sanctuary.
“While we cannot explain the reason for her behavior, 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 by the time the videographers had to leave,” Dolphin Project said in a statement.
Morgan is the same whale that was filmed several months ago repeatedly banging her head against the gate of the small medical pool in which she was being kept. This treatment led to the creation of the Free Morgan Foundation, a group dedicated to finding a new home for the suffering whale, who was originally rescued and treated in the Netherlands, but was later sent to Loro Parque on a breeding loan instead of being set free in the ocean.
“Since her transfer she has been brutally and continually attacked and is subjected to excessive sexual pressure from a male orca who she is often locked into the same tank with,” cites an observation of Morgan done by the foundation over 77 hours and 16 minutes.
The observation adds, “Morgan, was attacked, on average, more than once an hour. The other study recorded an aggressive episode only once every 234 hours … This does not include the damage she has self-inflicted from abnormal and repetitive behaviors such as banging her head on the concrete tanks. Additionally, Morgan is wearing her teeth down from chewing on the concrete. Teeth wear in captive orca often leads to infections.”
This recent incident could have ended in Morgan’s death. If killer whales stay out of the water for too long, the weight of their bodies can crush their organs and muscles.
In response to this new footage, PETA’s Foundation Director of Animal Law, Jared Goodman, has released a statement.
“Morgan was captured from the sea six years ago and has been fighting hard against the trials of her captivity ever since. Her behavior shows that she is frantic to get back to the ocean home that she remembers and misses. At Loro Parque, where she is “on loan” from SeaWorld, she is treated as a possession and used for profit. She has been attacked by incompatible orcas dozens of times a day, has smashed her head into a gate over and over again, and has now beached herself in absolute desperation. SeaWorld needs to release this suffering orca and the others it holds captive to a seaside sanctuary now.”
Loro Parque and SeaWorld have not responded to this latest footage, but in the past Loro Parque has said videos of Morgan in distress were exaggerated.