The court hearing started just after 9am and finished at 1715, lasting for 8 hours, with short recesses interspersed throughout the day. Three Judges were attending court but only the senior one talked.

Present in the room included representatives from the Orca Coalition and their lawyer; representatives from the Free Morgan Foundation, including expert board members Dr. Ingrid Visser, Dr. Lara Pozzato, Jeff Foster and Jean-Michel Cousteau; representatives from the Dolfinarium Harderwijk, including their veterinarian van Elk, the park director Mr. Foppen and their lawyer; representatives from Loro Parque, including head of research Javier Almunia; the representative from the Dutch Secretary of State for the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation and the Ministry CITES expert; members of the general public from all over the world supporting Morgan’s planned rehabilitation and release. The courtroom was full.

Throughout the entire court hearing, the Judges appeared sympathetic to Morgan’s case and emphasised on multiple occasions that they wanted to perform their roles responsibly by giving due time, care and consideration to Morgan’s case.

Free Morgan Foundation expert board members Dr. Ingrid Visser and Jeff Foster, who both have 20+ years experience working with wild and captive orcas, spoke with expert authority about the observations they made when visiting Morgan on separate and multiple occasions at Loro Parque. They spoke clearly, concisely and presented all evidence and opinions in a scientific manner. They both answered the Judge’s questions honestly and objectively.

Morgan’s lawyer (working on behalf of the Orca Coalition) raised concerns with the transport permit that was issued by the Dutch Government to the Dolfinarium Harderwijk to move Morgan to Loro Parque. He argued the permit has been breached, the clauses included were not respected and the permit itself should never have been issued because it is fundamentally unlawful.

The Dolfinarium Harderwijk representatives constantly repeated themselves throughout the court hearing, to the point that the Judges noted this and asked them to stop. They maintained throughout the hearing that Morgan’s well-being was not an issue that should be raised in this hearing and that the question of her rehabilitation and release from a legal point of view was irrelevant. The Dolfinarium Harderwijk supplied very little evidence, scientific or otherwise, for their case and were unable to substantiate any such evidence that they did submit with citations, references, identification, facts or details when cross-questioned by the Judge or Morgan’s lawyer.

Javier Almunia, head of research, read a few statements on behalf of Loro Parque. Almunia contradicted all observations made about Morgan and her situation by Dr. Visser and Foster. He admitted that stereotypic (abnormal repetitive) behaviours are a common problem in captive orcas but contradicted himself by saying that Morgan’s behaviours and emotions are “normal”. Almunia was unable to provide any details about Morgan’s hearing abilities, despite flagging this as an issue observed (solely) by Loro Parque. His reasons for not yet having Morgan’s hearing abilities tested, despite Loro Parque claiming for a year that Morgan may be deaf, were discredited by Jeff Foster’s expert knowledge of testing for hearing problems in cetaceans.

Morgan’s lawyer explained that rehabilitating and releasing Morgan into the wild will benefit the conservation of the species, habitat and of the individual (Morgan). Morgan is a young, breeding female and currently, the Norwegian population are recovering from a decline. From his expert experience rehabilitating cetaceans (including orcas Keiko and Springer), Foster believes that Morgan “is an excellent candidate” for rehabilitation and release.

Please read and share the following documents:
Summary of Morgan's Court Hearing (2012) 
Detailed Summary of Morgan's Court Hearing (2012) 
Account of Morgan's Court Hearing Proceedings (2012)

THE VERDICT OF MORGAN’S COURT HEARING WILL BE RELEASED PUBLICLY AT THE AMSTERDAM DISTRICT COURTS IN 6 WEEKS on 13th DECEMBER at 1330 Central European Time (1230 GMT).

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From Left to Right: Dr. Lara Pozzato, Jeff Foster, Dr. Ingrid Visser & Jean-Michel Cousteau
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Lara Pozzato, Dr. Ingrid Visser, Jean-Michel Cousteau and the Free Morgan Foundation volunteers
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From Left to Right: Jean-Michel Cousteau, Dr. Ingrid Visser & Change.org Representative Dmitry Savelau with 120,000+ signatures from Morgan's petition supporting her rehabilitation and release in a box to submit to Judges
 
 
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0901 Just about to go into the court room. 

0920 The Judge is not proud of how long it took to get Morgan’s case back in court – there are three Judges (one male, two females) but only one (the male) is doing the talking.

0920 Jeff Foster is brought in as expert witness for Morgan - he has worked both sides of fence (with orca in captivity and the wild) and has rehabilitated three orca.

0922 Jeff Foster visited Loro Parque to see Morgan this week.

The court room is full - Judge says this justifies we spend time on Morgan's case.

0931 Morgan's lawyer (the Orca Coalition’s lawyer) says it is important a decision is made in the shortest time possible as time is working against Morgan.

0935 Judge says we want to learn from Morgan's case - should we do things differently in future?

0940 Judge repeats what Morgan’s lawyer says. Morgan’s lawyer doesn’t know why Dolfinarium Harderwijk are here – he says, "your part is over."

But Judge will allow Dolfinarium Harderwijk to speak as the Judges want to be as informed as possible to make the right decision for Morgan.

Dolfinarium Harderwijk want to confirm that they acted "correctly" for Morgan – that is why they are here and why they feel they are still relevant to Morgan’s case. 

0944 The Judge asks if the reason Dolfinarium Harderwijk are present is because their reputation is at stake. 

0944 The Dolfinarium Harderwijk no longer have a rehabilitation permit - it has been given to a different organisation (not an aquarium). 

The Judge notes there are a lot of supporters for freeing Morgan in the court room.

0947 Morgan fell into the hands of conners says Morgan's lawyer, and having Morgan's right established will contribute to helping other orca. A wild orca belongs in the wild, he goes on to say.

The Free Morgan Foundation represents Morgan's best interests and will continue to do so no matter what the outcome of the hearing. 

Observation - Dolfinarium Harderwijk seem to be here to defend their reputation, not Morgan.

Observation - the amusement parks don't want to be filmed and Dolfinarium Harderwijk have signed an agreement with the Dutch Ministry to prevent this.

0954 Dolfinarium Harderwijk say if previous decision is upheld they know they made the right decision... is this about Morgan or reputation?

0955 Director of Harderwijk claims they acted correctly - "Morgan is happy and healthy right now"

0956 Director of Harderwijk claims that they put Morgan's well-being first.

0957 "I went to Tenerife and Morgan is doing well" says Harderwijk director. This contradicts what Free Morgan Foundation orca experts observed when they visited Morgan independently.

"One party has commercial interest" says Morgan's lawyer.

1009 During a visit to Harderwijk, when invited for a tour of the facility, the Orca Coalition was separated from the State Secretary. This made it very difficult to speak about Morgan.

1010 In out-of-court decisions Loro Parque was considered as the only option for Morgan by Dolfinarium Harderwijk and Loro Parque – they did not talk about rehabilitating Morgan as an option.

A statement made by Henk Bleker, State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation (Dutch MP) more than a year ago is mentioned in court "We must have the guts to kill Morgan.” 

The Judge says, "If you work with live animals, the well-being comes first. Simple."

1021 The Dolfinarium Harderwijk defend their decision with Morgan by saying the world is wild, there is suffering & sometimes animals die.

1024 Dolfinarium Harderwijk compares Morgan to a hedgehog – rescuing Morgan is like rescuing a hedgehog or a rabbit. They are claiming it is the same process. 

1105 The decision by the Dutch court will be taken seriously by the Spanish court. 

1107 The transport permit should never have been granted says Morgan's lawyer.

1140 Expert witness Jeff Foster takes the floor.

Jeff Foster is asked questions by the Judge. 

  • Jeff has worked on the rehab of orca Keiko, orca Springer, as well as bottlenose dolphins Tom & Misha (Tom & Misha were released this year and are currently thriving in the wild) and 5 pilot whales from Florida.
  • "I still think it was a success..." Jeff refers to Keiko's release, the first ever attempt.
  • Keiko was in captivity almost 20 years. He re-learnt to hunt and feed on live fish. He had 100+ encounters with wild orca and often spent his time in close proximity to them. 
  • Springer was a similar age to Morgan and also spent time in captivity. She was rehabilitated and released and has successfully reintegrated with a closely related family pod. She has been re-sighted regularly since her release, including this year which is 10 years after she was released back into the wild.
  • "I think she's (Morgan's) an excellent candidate (for rehab and release)," Jeff Foster.
  • "But every day she's in captivity, her chances decrease," Jeff Foster.
  • Morgan still has memory of the wild and we can rely on that memory to condition her for release - Jeff Foster.
  • The fact Morgan is young and female means she is more likely to be accepted into a pod.
  • Jeff Foster visited Morgan 29/10 and saw her in 2/3 shows. Loro Parque has a dysfunctional group of orca. Morgan is isolated from the group.
  • There are obvious aggression problems at Loro Parque with the other orca and Morgan - Jeff Foster. 
  • "The first thing I noticed she (Morgan) seemed to be in kind of a stressful situation," Jeff Foster.
  • "When I watched her, Morgan isolated herself from the other animals." Jeff Foster.
  • It is not normal to have rakes to the extent that Morgan has - Jeff Foster.
  • Typically one dozen rake marks on an orca - Morgan has hundreds.
  • 25-50% of Morgan's rake marks are fresh, within the last 6-8 weeks.
  • Morgan spends a lot of time underwater, which is encouraging. Typically in captivity, orca spend most of their time logging at the surface. 
  • The most difficult thing to teach an orca is to change their focus from above water to underwater - all contact in captivity is above water (feeding, training, trainer interactions etc). 
  • Morgan still has wild traits - this is encouraging!
  • The trainers at Loro Parque were observed to only interact with the orca during shows. After shows, the orca are ignored. There was little in the way of secondary reinforcements.
  • In her favour for release Morgan has her age, observed wild behaviours that she displays still and the short length of time she has been in captivity.
  • It would be beneficial to create a full ethogram of Morgan's daily behaviours, to observe her outside of a show setting, says Jeff Foster. But this would be difficult without the cooperation of Loro Parque. 
  • Animals Like Morgan can be conditioned to hunt and eat live fish - we have already been doing that successfully with Keiko, Springer, Tom & Misha.
  • "I think Morgan still has memories of eating live fish and this will help us to condition her to do this," - Jeff Foster. 
  • It is key to integrate Morgan into a wild group but she will still do OK on her own as a solitary / satellite animal (satellite animal being an animal who moves between pods) – Jeff Foster. 
  • "I can guarantee one thing - that Morgan will not live a long or happy life in the situation she's in right now," Jeff Foster.
  • "I'm not pro-captivity, I'm not anti-captivity. I'm here for Morgan." Jeff Foster
  • In captive situations orca vocalise less due to the affect that the concrete tank walls has on their acoustics and due to the fact that the orca are always in close proximity to each other – compared to the ocean it is a very quiet environment. Orca lose some communication behaviours in captivity which leads to a lack of mental stimulation. 
  • "When I came I had no agenda. I came to observe Morgan and see if he was a possible candidate (for release). And I believe she is." Jeff Foster

Morgan’s lawyer explains that Loro Parque have a commercial interest in Morgan - 70% of SeaWorld’s turnover is generated by orca. SeaWorld own the other orca displayed at Loro Parque. Scientific research is just a pretence.

1350 Discussing why holding Morgan for scientific research for conservation of the species is invalid - research in captivity only serves zoos. Results cannot be applied to wild orca in a wild setting when research is conducted in an artificial environment that does not resemble the natural habitat in any way, shape or form. 

Studying Morgan in a sea-pen as part of a rehabilitation plan would be far more beneficial than studying her in a small tank in a captive facility.

Dr. Ingrid Visser's latest report shows how Morgan has 320+ rakes and bites from other Loro Parque orca & injuries she inflicts upon herself.

Morgan is bored - she is chewing on the tank concrete, grinding down her teeth, says Dr. Visser whilst showing photographic evidence. 

30%+ time Morgan stayed in the medical tank of Loro Parque which is smaller than the tank of Dolfinarium Harderwijk, observed Dr. Visser during her time visiting Morgan. 

Morgan is hungry for contact with the general public which shows how desperate she is for social interaction – she is experiencing a lack of attention and interaction from Loro Parque trainers. Both Jeff Foster and Dr. Visser observed this during the times they visited Morgan. 

Dolfinarium Harderwijk's 7 experts from 2010 - 2 study birds (not cetaceans!), 2 work for the captive industry (biased?), 3 are orca experts & all were given an incomplete report about Morgan before the last hearing. The 3 experts have all changed their mind since and now think Morgan is a good release candidate. 

Original report (Dec 2010) by Dolfinarium Harderwijk was incomplete – information was withheld from experts - 3/7 of their experts are real experts – these 3 all changed mind. 

The worldwide orca community - the majority (if not all) are in favour of releasing Morgan. They have written statements affirming this.

1425 - Dr. Ingrid Visser, orca biologist and Free Morgan Foundation expert, takes the floor

 Dr. Visser gives a presentation with a slideshow of information and photographs, talking us through what it all means.

  • "I'm here as a scientist and I'd like to present some facts," Dr. Visser.
  • Firstly, Morgan is being advertised commercially and is being used in shows to make money for the amusement facility.
  • The aggression from other orca toward Morgan still continues. In the last 4 months, Morgan has received 300 more rake marks.
  • Rake marks on orca aren't abnormal but the NUMBER of rake marks on Morgan are. This is affirmed by Jeff Foster and Dr. Visser.
  • Trainers don't have enough experience with orca to recognise their behaviours. What they think is "play" behaviour is actually aggression. 
  • Trainer neglect - Morgan attempts to interact with trainers but she just gets ignored. Trainers interact with other orca, like 2 year old orca Adan. This was observed by Dr. Visser during the multiple times she visited Morgan at Loro Parque. 
  • Morgan exhibits stereotypic (abnormal repetitive) behaviours like chewing concrete and violently bashing her rostrum against the sides of the concrete tanks. 
  • For every hour Dr. Visser observed her, Morgan chewed on concrete at least 5 times. Morgan has lost nearly 1/3 of the tops of her teeth in only 19 weeks. 
  • Morgan has hypotrophic damage which is getting worse – it is swelling and becomeing itchy and irritating and so Morgan is bashing more because of it. 
  • Blue paint residue on Morgan's teeth indicates she is chewing concrete below water as well as above water. 


1435 Dolfinarium Harderwijk maintain their claim that they have acted correctly and within the law with regards to Morgan.

1440 Dolfinarium Harderwijk say it is none of the Dutch court's business how Morgan is doing - that the issue should be taken up with Spanish government. 

1445 Judge says maybe the parks' need to look at the whole situation rather than assessing the situation mechanically.

1452 Dolfinarium Harderwijk make their plea - they say "Can Morgan be released into the wild" is an irrelevant question from a legal point of view. 

1453 Head of Research at Loro Parque, Javia Almunia, takes the floor.

Javier Almunia is asked questions by the Judge.

  • Almunia contradicts all observations made by Free Morgan Foundation experts.

  • Almunia claims Morgan has integrated with the orca group at Loro Parque & spends time with them. That Morgan's behaviour can be considered normal.

  • Almunia claims Morgan's emotions are the same as those of other orca in captivity AND in the wild!

  • Almunia claims Morgan's health can be considered "normal" and goes on to say how Morgan "receives the best husbandry and veterinary care". 

  • Almunia has doubts about Morgan's hearing abilities – he says this will be checked by team of experts next week.

  • Almunia says they try to fight stereotypic behaviours with enrichment, like secondary reinforcements - Jeff Foster didn't observe this during his time visiting Morgan at Loro Parque.

1500 Dolfinarium Harderwijk submit photos of wild orca with rake marks but don't give details of age of orca, sex of orca or year photos were taken. The photos are in black and white, no colour. 

  • The Judge asks Almunia about Morgan's teeth, chewing concrete and the blue paint residue - Almunia admits this is a common problem in captive orca. 

  • The Judge questions why Loro Parque first mentioned Morgan's possible hearing defect a year ago but they aren't testing her until next week. 

  • The Judge wants to know more about Morgan’s possible hearing problem but Almunia is unable to give any answers.

  • The Judge says, “too bad, we want to hear about it now”, regarding the one-year gap between Loro Parque announcing Morgan may have hearing problem & getting her tested. Almunia cannot answer any questions about Morgan’s hearing defect because they don’t know anything – Loro Parque are just claiming she has one and haven’t tested her yet, despite the offers of experts to do so. 

  • Almunia says haven't been able to test Morgan because it takes time to get hold of the high-tech equipment required to test her hearing, and training Morgan the necessary behaviours required to conduct the test takes time. 

1509 Morgan's lawyer has crucial questions for Almunia but the Dolfinarium Harderwijk’s lawyer refuses to answer saying they don't want Almunia to be cross-examined.

Why are Dr. Visser's observations so different from what Almunia claims is going on with Morgan? – questions Morgan’s Lawyer. 

Why did Almunia talk of auditory tests for Morgan on the 5th October yet still they are no closer to having an answer about Morgan's hearing abilities? – Morgan’s lawyer goes on to question. 

1514 Jeff Foster has done hearing tests on cetaceans before – he says the test takes 20 minutes and you don't need to teach any special behaviours to the orca for it. The equipment is easy to get hold of.

Morgan’s lawyer has crucial questions to ask Almunia based on the answers he has just given.

1516 Dolfinarium Harderwijk’s lawyer says "no further comments". 

1520 The Dolfinarium Harderwijk’s lawyer says that whether Morgan can be released or not is irrelevant and that she has spent too long in captivity now - they say "let bygones be bygones". But Morgan has spent more time in the wild to this day than she has spent in captivity and the Free Morgan Foundation experts still agree that Morgan is a good candidate for release – she can be re-conditioned to hunt and feed on live fish, she is still young and she still displays wild traits and behaviours, amongst other evidence to support the idea she can be rehabilitated and released. 

1523 Dolfinarium Harderwijk say we were unsuccessful finding her direct family despite best attempts - but Morgan was matched acoustically to her family / close family relatives, who were sighted in 2005 and twice in 2012.

1525 "Morgan is not capable of participating in a pod" claim Dolfinarium Harderwijk. 

1528 "She (Morgan) is pretty bossy" claims Dolfinarium Harderwijk - they think she will negatively impact any wild pods because of this, the reason they give for why releasing Morgan will not help conserve the species. 

1529 Dolfinarium Harderwijk think releasing Morgan into the wild will result in her "death or permanent loneliness". 

Dolfinarium Harderwijk say they want recent evidence / observations to be ignored and only past evidence available at the time of issuing the permits to be examined during this current hearing. 

1540 "If it is said that Morgan isn't being used for education that is misinterpretation" says Dolfinarium Harderwijk. 

1550 Dolfinarium Harderwijk answer questions about the orca photos they submitted showing orca rakes – the photos were taken from an Alaskan orca catalogue but they know little else. 

The Dolfinarium Harderwijk are asked how old the orca are in the photos they have submitted as evidence. They say they don’t know but "...we think you can determine their (orca) age by the size of their dorsal fins." – the Dolfinarium Harderwijk sound uncertain when providing their "expert" knowledge. 

1630 The Judge asks both parties questions for clarification what has already been discussed after a short recess.

Morgan's lawyer explains releasing Morgan will benefit the conservation of species, habitat and Morgan as an individual. 

Capturing Morgan contradicts international conventions (such as ASCOBANS) explains Morgan's lawyer. 

1655 Morgan's lawyer says that one way in which Dolfinarium Harderwijk violated their permit for Morgan is because a point came where they were no longer holding her with the intention of releasing her. 

1657 Morgan is valuable to wild populations because the population is still recovering from a decline - Morgan is a breeding female. 

1700 Loro Parque pretends to conduct real scientific research says Morgan's lawyer.

1701 The other orca held at Loro Parque were all born in captivity so are used to a world of little sound, unlike Morgan - thus acoustic studies conducted by the park are irrelevant, especially in relation to the conservation of wild orca. 

1705 Members of Royalty, the general public, over 138,000 people from all over the world, supporters in the court room from all over world – they all care about Morgan, the Orca Coalition tells the Judges, all three of whom are listening with their undivided attention. 

1710 "How Morgan is doing right now is no longer relevant for the decisions of this case" the Dutch Secretary of State finishes. "Morgan's well-being is irrelevant". 

THE VERDICT OF MORGAN’S COURT HEARING WILL BE RELEASED PUBLICLY AT THE AMSTERDAM DISTRICT COURTS IN 6 WEEKS on 13th DECEMBER at 1330 Central European Time (1230 GMT). 

 
 
“I have a long-standing commitment towards protecting marine biodiversity and marine mammals through scientific understanding and conservation. 


I have also been involved in returning animals from my father’s animal park, to the wild, where and when it has been possible.

These very same philosophies persuade to me to believe that Morgan, who is a wild-born orca, should also be given the chance to go from captivity, back to her natural environment.”
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HSH PRINCE ALBERT II OF MONACO 

 
 
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Jim Toomey is a popular American cartoonist, famous for his comic Sherman's Lagoon.

Jim Toomy's cartoon, Sherman's Lagoon, appears in over 250 newspapers in North America and in over 30 countries worldwide.  

With a Master's degree of Environmental Management, Jim's cartoons often feature issues which pertain to the Ocean.  Read an interview he did recently with Catherine Fox about how he got started and his interest in marine life.

Jim has drawn a special cartoon just for Morgan to highlight her plight.  Help spread the word and post the link to Jim's exclusive Morgan cartoon wherever you can.

 
 
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Ingrid Visser & Jean-Michel Cousteau
Lawyer and ocean advocate Matthew Spiegl spoke with Jean-Michel Cousteau (Ocean Futures Society) about Morgan at the BLUE Ocean Film Festival which took place during the last week of September. 

Spiegl writes, "Jean-Michel also wanted to talk about an issue that is very personal to him and his Ocean Futures Society -- Morgan, an orca whale who was captured on June 23, 2010 and has been in captivity since.

When the discussion turned to this young female orca, there was a noticeable change in Jean-Michel's voice. Although always passionate, there is a profound sense of urgency when he speaks of Morgan. Having spent over four years fighting to free another orca named Keiko from captivity; Jean-Michel is frustrated that we are still having this discussion about captive marine animals performing "circus acts" for humans in 2012." 

"We need to put Morgan back in the ocean. We need to get off our ass and campaign as far as we can with as many people as we can to convince the judges, the people who are making the decision in Amsterdam on the first of November, and I'm planning on being there and as many people who can join, to show the world, the legal world that there is a growing number of people, that we are able to have a voice," says Cousteau. 

Spiegl also spoke with Dr. Ingrid Visser (Orca Research Trust) who is on the Free Morgan Foundation expert board, who gave the him a "quick education on orcas and filled [him] in on the details about Morgan, explaining that she was not stranded and rescued - but that she was captured and taken". 

To read the full article please visit:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-spiegl/morgan-the-shame-of-the-n_b_1917562.html

 
 
Digital Journal journalist Elizabeth Batt writes about Morgan's up-and-coming court case on the 1st November in Amsterdam. She talks about the inspiration and motivation behind the group going to court to support the case for Morgan's freedom. Find out what we hope will happen to Morgan and what anybody new to Morgan's case should be aware of, including basic facts about wild orca, why Morgan is not suited to a life in captivity and why she is considered a good candidate for release.

"Morgan is a suitable candidate for release... [She] has spent more time in the wild than she has in captivity so far. Scientific experts have been able to match Morgan’s vocalizations with a group of orca in Norway believed to be Morgan’s pod...this really increases Morgan’s chances of reuniting with her family pod."

"The group of experts supporting the case for Morgan’s freedom is phenomenal. Combined they have more than 100 years worth of experience working with orca. They really know what they are doing. My ultimate hope, is that they get the chance to do with Morgan what was meant to have been done from the very beginning – rehabilitate and release her back into the wild."

You can visit Orca Morgan's Court Case group to find out how you can support Morgan in court:http://www.facebook.com/groups/SupportOrcaMorganInCourt/

Read Elizabeth's article here with interview from Morgan's Court Case travel coordinator Sam Lipman: 
http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/334016?fb_action_ids=10151071801273309&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

 
 
Because the group of orca held at Loro Parque is even more dysfunctional than those held at SeaWorld, San Diego. Dr Visser is very concerned about Morgan’s welfare.  She already has evidence of Morgan being bullied, attacked, rammed and bitten.  This latest injury in captivity shows that trainers cannot control the orca and Morgan’s removal from Loro Parque has an even greater urgency.

Nakai is an 11 year-old captive orca imprisoned at SeaWorld California. Last week he was photographed with a horrific injury - a chunk of flesh the size of a dinner plate is missing from his lower jaw (you can see from the photo that this is no exaggeration). Nakai has been treated with antibiotics by SeaWorld veterinarians, but this poor animal is not in the clear - not only could his injury cause direct health implications, but it could lead to infection. 

It is believed that Nakai sustained this wound on September 20th during a night show at the amusement park, but it is unclear as to how it happened. 
Originally, experts were of the opinion that Nakai's injuries could not have resulted from an orca bite. The U-T San Diego reported: 

Dr. Ingrid Visser, a leading orca researcher from New Zealand and anti-captivity activist, concurred with Anderson [veterinarian with the University of California Davis Wildlife Center] that the wound doesn’t appear to be a bite, more like a slice caused by something like a metal plate or a wire. She added that she believed that the injury is more serious than Sea World officials have stated.

“This is clearly a very traumatic wound and it appears to be down to the bone and again, I think that SeaWorld is underplaying the wound,” she wrote in an e-mail. “This is another example of why these animals shouldn’t be in captivity.”

However, new evidence has come to light which now suggests otherwise - that Nakai's injuries are likely to have resulted from an orca bite. 

New photographs of Nakai have been released by orca expert Ingrid Visser, which clearly show four puncture marks at the bottom right of the wound - the spacing matches that for orca teeth as you can see by comparing them to Nakai's teeth in the same photo. 
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© Orca Research Trust
"When I tried to photograph him over the top of the (very) high rails, I was told to not stand on the camera box and I had to stop taking photos there. Then the trainers deliberately moved Nakai to another tank where we couldn’t see him properly. I only managed to get 6 semi-decent photos of him."

As others have speculated, it is possible that SeaWorld staff members cauterized the wound with lasers to get rid of the rakes before anyone outside of the park saw the injury. But they left those four punctures since they would have had to take too much flesh to remove them.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced on Friday they have filed a complaint with the Department of Agriculture for conditions at SeaWorld San Diego that led to a gaping injury to the lower jaw of an 11-year-old killer whale.

For more information please read the following articles: 

Journalist Tim Zimmermann first reported this news - 
http://timzimmermann.tumblr.com/post/32433797105/nakaiphoto

'Death at SeaWorld' author David Kirby also investigates the story - 
http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/09/28/what-happened-nakai-seaworld-whale-missing-huge-chunk-chin

CBS8 report on Nakai's injuries: http://www.cbs8.com/category/155799/video-landing-page?clipId=7780197&auto

The U-T San Diego interviews Dr. Ingrid Visser about Nakai's wounds - 
http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/sep/28/killer-whale-injury-down-bone/

CBS8 report on PETA's complaint filed with the US Department of Agriculture:
http://www.cbs8.com/story/19666384/killer-whale-hurt-at-san-diegos-seaworld-show

CBS8 reports on the recent photographs of Nakai's injuries taken by orca expert Ingrid Visser:
http://www.cbs8.com/story/19679464/orca-expert-takes-new-photos-of-killer-whales-injuries

Ingrid Visser speaks with journalist Tim Zimmermann about her professional analysis of Nakai's injuries: http://timzimmermann.tumblr.com/post/32870571126/vissernakaianalysis
 
 
After the Free Morgan Foundation had given the experts of the Dolphinarium additional information regarding collected acoustic information which reveals that Morgan is related to the Norwegian P pod Morgan’s natal group or a related kin group and information which indicate that killer whales groups are now sighted frequently near Vesterålen in northern Norway during summer, four experts changed their opinion and stated that Morgan is a prime candidate for release.

"Given this new information, I now believe that rehabilitation back to the wild for Morgan is potentially feasible and an effort to accomplish this warrants serious consideration." 
- John K.B. Ford, PhD Head, Cetacean Research Program Conservation Biology Section


"Given this new information, I believe that rehabilitation back to the wild for Morgan is potentially feasible."   Christophe Guinet Directeur de recherche CEBC-CNRS

"One thing that I do think is that it would be a very interesting scientific experiment to prepare Morgan for ultimate release into the open sea, providing that she is tagged for tracking and monitoring on release."
- Dr. Christina Lockyer

"The plan of moving Morgan in a seapen in a  fjord in Vesteralen or Lofoten is very much in line of my original recommendation."
- Fernando Ugarte  Greenland Institute of Natural Resources

Read their full letters and emails here

 
 
Prepared by Jan van Twillert & Dr Ingrid N. Visser / Free Morgan Foundation

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

As part of the Free Morgan Foundation’s Rehabilitation and Release Plan, an appropriate location must be decided upon which encompasses all the requirements for the Plan to succeed.  This is, inter alia; logistical, environmental, personnel, community and habitat criteria.  Furthermore, it must be a location that has historical and recent sightings and encounters with the local population of orca.

The location of Stø, in northern Norway, is an ideal location for the implementation of the Rehabilitation and Release Plan.  The area provides not only all the logistical requirements but is also a prime habitat for orca, with sightings regularly reported within a 10 km range of the harbour and site for the rehabilitation sea-pen.  In addition, the local community of Stø sees Morgan’s return to these waters, as not only a benefit to the Stø Community in terms of possible economic benefit, but also it is clear that they genuinely care about the marine environment, its inhabitants.

The community commitment ranges from the Mayor to the fishermen and also includes residents.  This also includes local businesses who have offered to provide liaison cooperation and to assist with the project throughout its duration.

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Despite overwhelming evidence provided by world renowned orca researchers, scientists and advocates, as members of the Free Morgan Foundation, the best interests of Morgan have not been met. It has been designated that she will be sent to a life of permanent captivity in a barren concrete tank.  Realistically this is nothing short of a death sentence for Morgan as orca in captivity only live an average of 8.5 years, compared to more than 50 years in the wild.  It is disgraceful that a country such as the Netherlands, known around the world for their humanitarian and animal welfare compassion, should have allowed this to happen.  Clearly, ulterior motivations such as money and entertainment have presided over the welfare interests of Morgan.

Unfortunately, because of constrains in the European/National law, the Judge could not decide for Morgan to be rehabilitated and released.  Therefore, Morgan will be the poster-child for our continuing fight against this barbaric and antiquated form of entertainment.  In the same way that dancing bears have been phased out, so too will be the way of places such as the Dolfinarium Harderwijk.  Our long-term goal of establishing laws to ever prevent an animal in need, being turned into an animal used for profit and personal gain, will not stop with Morgan’s incarceration.

“Personally, I am devastated that after all these months of fighting the good fight, to find that reason and science lost over money and ulterior motives.  It is sad to see that non-profit organizations are bullied and overridden by corporate greed and unjust laws.” 
– Dr Ingrid N. Visser


“I find it unbelievable that we point a finger at countries with barbaric activities such as dancing bears, yet, here in our very own country we allow the equivalent to happen with such a highly intelligent species such as orca.”
– Jan van Twillert


“I believe that justice has taken a hard blow today, I think that all the good premises were there for the Netherlands to do the right thing and to show the world that the way animals are treated should and can change.  Once again private interests, insensitivity and political constrains won over good sense and science.”
– Lara Pozzato


“It is unbelievable that it is possible to imprison a wild intelligent animal for profit, under the guise of rescue.”
– Jenny van Twillert


“With this ruling Morgan has been condemned to a short life in the entertainment business, but she is still an excellent candidate for return to her home waters. We could learn so much about orcas by doing so, but there’s money to be made at the circus gate.”
– Howard Garrett


It is heartbreaking that Morgan has been sentenced to a life of stress, forced breeding, poor health and social strife. A life that will be cut short, all for profit and a crude form of entertainment. Thanks goes to the FMF, for fighting the good fight.
- Carol Ray, former killer whale trainer


“Wow. I was hopeful that the Dutch Government would make an evidence-based decision. Poor Morgan is now sentenced to a life with broken teeth in an acoustically dead concrete pond. This reminds me of ‘Planet of the Apes.’ Except this time, we’re the Apes!”
- Jeffrey Ventre MD, former killer whale trainer, SeaWorld of Florida


"I am devastated that even after we could show that wild orcas still exist in northern Norway and that it is possible to find Morgan's relatives and she has a fair chance of being returned to a wild life, she will put to life sentence in captivity to entertain people!"
- Heike Vester


“WDCS is disheartened to learn that a court in Amsterdam has decided that Morgan should be transferred from the Netherlands to remain in captivity at the Loro Parque zoo in the Canary Islands. We now fear for Morgan’s health and welfare as she will be introduced into a new captive environment, to orcas who are strangers to her and to the circus-style shows at Loro Parque. In captivity, orcas suffer a significantly reduced survival rate, low breeding success and stress, which can lead to aggression between themselves and towards trainers, illness and even death.”
- Rob Lott, The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, (WDCS).


“I am deeply saddened that the decision makers have denied Morgan the perspective to someday enjoy the rich and fulfilling togetherness with her family, despite the strong evidence and resources in favor of her rehabilitation.”
- Astrid van Ginneken


“What an unreal and dismaying decision! Despite all the evidence and arguments in favour of Morgan being given a chance - from knowledge about her probable origins, to a practical plan worked out in great detail, to the promise of funding, and solid community support in Norway – the Court has ruled against her. In doing so, it has condemned Morgan to a short and dreadful life behind barren walls. How terribly sad.”
Dr. Paul Spong


"It is unfortunate that we continue to be manipulated by the power of economics over clear science and what is best for the welfare of this one individual killer whale. I am saddened to hear of today's verdict. We are cheating ourselves and the next generation too."
Jean-Michel Cousteau