Bottle-feeding has resumed for the calf, although the formula is augmented by the addition of Morgan’s milk. The videos below show how this was done when another of Loro Parque’s mother orcas, Kohana, rejected her calf.
From Loro Parque (10/1/2018)
It’s now just over a week since Morgan gave birth and the entire team of carers, veterinarians, and international experts who have been monitoring the situation are delighted with the calf’s progress. The primary focus continues to be ensuring that the calf is getting all the nourishment it needs and the team has been concerned that Morgan’s milk production has been lower than required.
While natural breastfeeding is always the preferred option, nothing is more important than the wellbeing of the animals in our care – so the veterinary team has stepped in to assist at times by temporarily bottle feeding the calf.
Despite continuous attempts to help Morgan feed naturally, her milk production remains low. As a result, the only option has been to move the calf over to regular bottle feeds. Thanks to Loro Parque’s world-leading facilities and the help of the world’s top experts, we are able add the small amount of milk that Morgan is producing daily to the bottled formula feed, which is provided in a special dedicated medical pool. Using Morgan’s milk helps enrich each meal the calf receives and provides the vital antibodies that aid the development of its immune system.
Despite the challenges in breastfeeding, the bond between mother and calf continues to grow and Morgan is demonstrating exemplary maternal instincts as she swims alongside her calf at all times they are together.
We know from the many messages of support we continue to receive that many of you are closely following this news, so we will keep providing updates as and when we have new information.
After a worrisome few days in which the whale calf needed supplemental feeding by park staff, the still unnamed baby orca is no longer being bottle-fed. The mother, Morgan, was rescued and rehabilitated in the Netherlands in 2010 before being transferred to Loro Parque, Spain where she was bred with SeaWorld orcas. (The Whale Sanctuary Project has a great summary of how Morgan wound up at a Spanish zoo.)
Ex -SeaWorld representative talks about breeding the whales in Loro Parque – these orcas belonged to SeaWorld until relatively recently. (Published on Mar 30, 2018):
Morgan and her calf update
(From Loro Parque).
Nothing matters more to us than the health and wellbeing of the animals in our care. As we updated earlier this week, a team of veterinarians and external consultants has been monitoring the progress of Morgan and her calf around the clock since birth.
The primary focus during these crucial first days has been ensuring the calf is getting all the nourishment it needs. While natural breastfeeding is always the preferred option, Morgan’s milk production has been below what is needed in these first few days. Therefore, the veterinary team has assisted by temporarily bottle feeding the calf while giving Morgan the chance to increase her milk supply.
We are glad to say that mother and calf have now resumed natural breastfeeding and the experts are pleased with the strong bond the pair have developed. With the help of our state-of-the-art facilities and assistance from world-leading experts, the team continues to closely observe the situation to ensure that Morgan and her baby establish a good, healthy and natural feeding routine. However, we are, of course, ready to step in to help if there is the slightest concern that the calf’s nutritional needs are not being met.
We wish to thank everyone who has been in contact with us in these past few days and have been touched by the many messages of support. We will keep you posted with all the latest information as things unfold.
Loro Parque now has five orcas that belonged to SeaWorld, along with the Dutch orca Morgan – who SeaWorld bizarrely claimed to own before turning the lot over to this Spanish amusement park. Eventually it was determined that Morgan lost her hearing along the way (it is unknown if she was deaf when stranded or became deaf later) and after a spat with SeaWorld, Loro Parque bred her. (For background on this farce, please see Orca whale Morgan’s fate follows the golden rule: those who have the gold make the rules.)
At this writing, nothing more is known about the calf, or whether a “deaf”, young, mother whale will be able to communicate with the infant. Watch this space for updates.
UPDATE September 24th: From Loro Parque –
The first days in the life of a cetacean are critical and we have all been encouraged by Morgan’s strong maternal instincts and the way she is nurturing and taking care of her calf. Establishing breastfeeding is crucial in this early phase and our team of veterinarians and external consultants are closely monitoring both mother and calf to see that this happens.
Over the first 24 hours Morgan’s milk production has been lower than we would like, meaning it may be necessary to introduce bottle feeding to ensure that the calf is getting the nourishment it needs. We sincerely hope that nature can take its course and that Morgan can feed her calf independently.
However, we are watching the situation carefully and will assist with bottle feeding, if the experts consider that the life of the calf is at risk.
We wish to take this opportunity to say thank you for all the kind messages we have received from all over the world as we celebrate the birth of Morgan’s calf. We will continue to provide updates as they enjoy their first days together.
In his excellent article, Blood in the Water, author Tim Zimmermann gives a thorough and engaging account of the events that led to the death of a trainer by one of SeaWorld’s whales, Keto, in Spain’s Loro Parque amusement park. In the telling of the story, Zimmermann shows that Loro Parque’s orcas were shipped from SeaWorld’s Texas and Florida amusement parks in 2006 to ‘help it [Loro Parque] start Orca Ocean’ and to ‘showcase these remarkable animals’.
Loro Parque’s announcement about the birth:
Loro Parque has good news to share: the orca Morgan that was rescued after being found near dead near the coast of the Wadden Sea in the Netherlands and that forms part of our group of orcas, gave birth to her first calf this morning, which finds itself in a perfect state of health. From the very first moment, Morgan demonstrated to be an exemplary mother attending to her newborn, which is swimming next to its mother in the installations of the ‘OrcaOcean’.
The orca Morgan was rescued at the coast of the Wadden Sea in 2010 and was attended by a team of experts of the Harderwijk Dolphinarium in an effort to help the lost animal, which showed such a severe malnutrition that the animal was only skin and bones. In this moment, Morgan only weighed 430 Kg and the keepers of the Dutch dolphinarium were not sure that the animal was going to survive the first night after its rescue. They, however, were hopeful that with a proper level of care, affection and attention of the care givers, as well as with the adequate nutrition, the animal could make a recovery.
Thanks to all these efforts of the team at Harderwijk, the animal began to recover its weight and strength, and as the Harderwijk installations were not prepared to keep orcas, the Dutch authorities initiated a formal commission to determine the future of the orca Morgan. A group of international and independent experts came to the conclusion that there were only two viable alternatives for the animal: euthanasia or to be kept at an installation of an aquarium that complied with the necessary conditions for this animal species.
At this moment, as Loro Parque had the most modern installations for orcas in existence, the Park was contacted to see if it would accept the animal. Despite all the challenges that this request represented, Loro Parque accepted the petition, thus, avoiding the only other alternative that was left for the animal: the euthanasia.
After a few months at our installations, the orca Morgan adapted to the new conditions and integrated perfectly into the existing group of orcas at Loro Parque. At the same time, it was discovered that the orca suffered a severe hearing deficiency, which was yet another argument to confirm that animal was incapable to survive on her own in nature.
Given this last circumstance, there were a number of questions as to what exactly a delivery would imply for the animal without a hearing capacity. Today, Loro Parque would like to share the great news: the delivery went in a completely normal manner and the first hours after the birth have been developing in accordance with the best expectations.
It is impossible to know the gender of the new calf yet, although the most important issue now is that both, the mother and the calf, find themselves in a perfect state of health. Loro Parque will be informing the public about the development of the situation, and would like to take this opportunity to thank all its visitors from many different parts of the world, the tour operators and all the collaborators in the scientific field for all the support to the Loro Parque mission: to protect and conserve animals and their natural habitats for future generations.
(Video via Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project)
This recent video is disturbing, and raises the question of what SeaWorld plans to do with their six orcas that are housed at an amusement park in the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa.
Four of the orcas were sent to the park (Loro Parque) on a breeding loan, the fifth was born there, and the sixth, a young female named Morgan, was rescued and kept in captivity despite international protest. Although not officially confirmed, it is believed to be Morgan in the video above.
SeaWorld is undergoing rapid and significant change, and deserves time to demonstrate their sincerity and commitment to their avowed promise to improve life for the captive whales. Yet if they really do have their priorities straight, unlike the previous leaders (Orca Morgan’s fate follows the golden rule – those who have the gold make the rules), they will take action for their whales at Loro Parque and not just the orcas on American soil.
The whales in Loro Parque might be out of sight, but they are not out of mind.
The Free Morgan Foundation spearheads an effort to grant Morgan freedom under European law and continues to monitor Morgan and the other whales at Loro Parque. Their reports are grim and underscore the need for SeaWorld to take the reins and do something about the conditions at that park:
Morgan was to be held at Loro Parque as an interim measure whilst the legality of her continued captivity was debated. The main consideration stated as to why she was sent to this facility, despite data to show otherwise, was so she could socialise with other orca.
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.
The author observed Morgan for 77 hours and 16 minutes, over eight days (spread over a 24 day period). During that time-fame, an unprecedented 91 aggression events were documented, all involving Morgan. A similar study, looking at aggression in captive orca (observing them for 1,872 hours, i.e., 78 days) recorded only eight aggressive episodes.
Morgan, was attacked, on average, more than once an hour. The other study recorded an aggressive episode only once every 234 hours.
Put another way, Morgan is over than 100 times more like likely to be attacked at Loro Parque than the orca in the other study. Since her arrival at Loro Parque, Morgan has been inflicted with more than 320 puncture and bite marks (all documented by photographs).
This does not include the damage she has self-inflicted from abnormal and repetitive behaviours 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. These abnormal behaviours are a direct result of boredom from being held in a featureless environment in which she is provided little if any stimulation.
There is a clear lack of empathy for this animal from the trainers, who ignore her calls for attention and her cries for help and disregard aggressive attacks on her by the other animals, even when they are within meters of these events when they occur. (From Report on the Physical & Behavioural Status of Morgan, the Wild-Born Orca held in Captivity, at Loro Parque, Tenerife, Spain).
While captive orcas all lead miserable lives, the breeding policies and forced separations may make life harder for the females. The males are sub-dominant in the studied wild orca cultures, and among the Southern Resident orcas, they remain with their mothers their entire lives, so a case could be made that psychologically the forced separations as calves might be more difficult for them than for the females who eventually form their own family units in the wild (but they too remain in the same pod as their own mothers). But the breeding program hurts the females both as calves and as adults.
The females have to endure having their calves taken away, and at Seaworld females have been forced to mature early and to have calves through artificial insemination while they are the equivalent of a six- eight year old human child – orcas mature much the way we do, entering puberty about 10 – 13 years old on average and very rarely producing calves that young in the wild. The calves are taken away from the mothers as young as two years old.
The death of the 10 month old orca Vicky yesterday in Loro Parque underscores another problem for captive born female orcas – not being prepared to nurture their calves. Vicky had been rejected by her mother who in turn had been separated from her own mother at too young an age to learn how to care for a calf. Had Vicky survived, she likely would have been brought into maturity by manipulating her hormones, then borne a calf that she doubtlessly would have rejected.
Last week Fins and Fluke created a petition to call for the end of captive breeding, and now with Vicky’s death the number of surviving calves has dropped to just 17.
This is a call to action to end the captive breeding programs at SeaWorld Parks. SeaWorld continues to boast about their “successful breeding program” when in all actuality that is far from the truth. There have been thirty-seven known pregnancies at SeaWorld parks since the first survived captive birth in 1985. Only eighteen of these calves still alive today, barely half. The captive breeding program at SeaWorld has resulted in 6 stillbirths, two miscarriages, and five maternal deaths during childbirth. One remaining calf is a result of inbreeding.
Prior the first successful live birth in 1985, captive orcas produced 10 calves, and all 10 were still born or died within 2 months (Wikipedia).
Rivalry and dominance squabbles among females can be deadly, and fourteen percent of the mother whales at Seaworld have died giving birth. One gave birth during a show – the calf survived, but when just a year old witnessed her mother bleed to death from a broken jaw, the result of an altercation with another female…again, during a show. The calf, Orkid, was raised by humans and nurtured by other female orcas (one of whom was Corky who had been bred 7 times and lost 7 calves by time she was just 21 years old and stopped ovulating.) In 2002 Orkid and another young whale teamed up and dragged a trainer into the water where they “roughed her up severely, fracturing her arm and leaving her hand a bloody mess”, and she continues to be a very aggressive whale. (See more – Death at Seaworld)
Any woman who has given birth knows how challenging the process can be, and it is unimaginable that Seaworld has its pregnant whales perform so close to term (Orkid came a month earlier than the average gestation of 17 months), and I can’t think of another industry where near-term animals are forced to perform in the late stages of pregnancy. Visualize a pregnant race horse – the idea is ludicrous.
Recognizing that inbreeding is a huge problem Seaworld has gotten its hooks into the wild Norweigian killer whale, Morgan, hoping to infuse their gene lines with viable stock. Morgan has a chance to escape the dismal fate of female killer whales at Seaworld. You can help in the court battle to return her to her home waters in Norway: Free Morgan Foundation.
Update April 8th: the orca was euthanized a few hours ago after its condition worsened.See Norwegian news article here or click here for more on the death of this whale.
A quick heads up, thanks to journalist Elizabeth Batt (personal communication). A young orca has stranded in Norway (7 April 2013):
KARMØY: Killer whales that Sunday afternoon got dozens of onlookers Viksvågen Skudeneshavn, was lying on a shallow little further outside the city. (See translated page here)
This is the region where the captive orca Morgan’s family lives, and where a community already has selected an area where this whale could be taken if it comes to that. (Please check these posts on Morgan to find out more about her story).
It is vitally important that this young whale has every opportunity to be reunited with his/her family, and not taken into captivity, so please spread the word and help keep an eye on the news.
This letter was written to thank the community of Sto Harbour for trying hard to return Morgan to her family, and it shows that it would be feasible to keep this whale out of captivity if help is needed.Original letter was written in November 2011. Dear Mayor Jørn Martinussen, On behalf of the people everywhere who were rooting for the young killer whale Morgan to be returned to the waters of Norway where she originated, I want to send you heartfelt appreciation. You and the community of Sto Harbour offered her a safe, natural place to be restored to health before she would be returned to the wild, and you made a full commitment to working with scientists from around the world. It would have been an unparalleled opportunity for scientific discovery and an enchanting global learning experience.
Unfortunately reason did not prevail, and the legal system of The Netherlands ruled that Morgan must be sent to an amusement park in Spain.
The choice was made to disregard the opinions of leading scientists in the field of whale behavior and biology, so now Morgan will be placed with whales from SeaWorld. SeaWorld is part of a huge corporation called the Blackstone Group, (who are also majority owners in Merlin Entertainments – who in turn run Sealife Centres in the UK and also their European facilities including Gardaland in Italy and Heide Park in Germany). They are wealthy and powerful. One can only assume that the political pressure must have been huge, as a whale such as Morgan is worth millions of dollars for her ability to generate box-office receipts for amusement parks, and even more for her contribution of fresh genes to their breeding programs. The whales in Loro Parque where she is supposed to live show signs of aggression towards humans and towards each other, and are bred too young and too often. Captivity will wring the spirit out of her, and statistically her life will be shortened by decades. You and the environmentally conscious citizens of Sto Harbour, Norway are a fine example of how to make a difference in global problems, large or small. When asked to help, you said yes, and that alone is inspirational. Maybe the people of Norway will get Morgan back someday, she belongs there. Sincerely, Morgan Supporters From Around the World
For the whale lover who has enough t-shirts, mugs, trinkets, and stuffed dolphins, a gift that shows you care about their passion may be one of the most memorable presents they will receive. Why? Because although you may not share the whale enthusiast’s interest, they will deeply appreciate knowing that you took the time to make a difference in a cause they care about.
In this case, you can sign a petition, and/or visit the websites dedicated to orca research in general, or help one young whale specifically – and see a myriad of ways to pledge your time, donate if you wish, or print out a pledge to give to your gift recipient. (The petition just encourages a Dutch court to release a captive whale who has not adapted to captivity, and you can keep your support anonymous. The judges are due to announce their decision on December 13, 2012). You can find out more about the whale, Morgan, here, and sign the petition here.
Morgan has been documented repeatedly bashing her head against the side of the gate opening mechanism…[which] results in self-inflicted damage to her rostrum (end of snout) & chin. From continually banging her head on the concrete, she has hypertrophic tissue (fibrous tissue that replaces normal tissue destroyed by injury).
This whale can be successfully returned to the wild, there already exists a place to rehabilitate her near where her wild family lives:
Her family has been located. “Heike Vester and Filipa Samarra identified Group P by comparing Morgan’s distinctive calls with the recent call type catalogue of wild Norwegian killer whales developed by Heike Vester, and came to the conclusion that Morgan is likely to have originated from either from group P or a group closely related to group P. You can download the full report.
Below are two sample pledges you can print out, there are other creative options to be found as well, at the Free Morgan Foundation website. More about Dr. Visser and her research can be found at the Orca Research Trust.
Jean-Michel Cousteau and Dr. Ingrid Visser in conversation with WILD TIME’s Thomas Janak bring clarity and insight into the fundamental importance of returning this young killer whale to the wild. They point out that times have changed along with our understanding of these intelligent whales, and Cousteau makes the case that we have more to learn from them in the wild than we can in captivity. Orca biologist Dr. Visser explains the suffering that Morgan endures in captivity, and makes suggestions for what people can do to help. For more information please go to FreeMorgan.org.
Ten years ago Canadian and American citizens, governments, and environmental groups coordinated the rescue of an orphaned orca, Springer, and returned her to her natal pod where she continues to thrive. To mark the anniversary, celebrations are planned in Canada and the U.S. Join in and learn more about Springer’s remarkable story, and how rescue and release of whales and dolphins can work again in the future:
Springer (also known as A73), a two-year old orphan of Canada’s Northern Resident killer whale population, appeared 10 years ago in Puget Sound near Vashon Island after becoming separated from her family. Three hundred miles from home, the little orca captured international attention and galvanized community support for a relocation effort. Concerned about her weakening health and increasing human interactions, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), and Vancouver Aquarium mounted the first-ever orca relocation project. “The decision to rescue Springer was not an easy one to make,” said Will Stelle, director of NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest regional office in Seattle. “There were risks and unknowns every step of the way. In the end, we were successful because we worked as a team. Community involvement and support were a key part of the project.” Today, Springer is healthy and fully integrated with her extended family, and has returned each year to their summering grounds in Johnstone Strait. Events include an evening celebration open to the public (registration required) at the Vancouver Aquarium on Tuesday, June 12 at 7PM; an afternoon public program at Seattle’s Alki Beach Bathhouse on Saturday, June 23 at 11 AM; and a 10th anniversary reunion at Telegraph Cove, B.C., from July 12 to 15.
But Springer’s story could have turned out differently. Several aquariums – including SeaWorld – lobbied to have her brought into captivity, but fortunately an environmental group located legal documents containing a 1976 agreement between SeaWorld and Washington State (a result of the Penn Cove fiasco), proving that SeaWorld is barred from participating in any capture of any orca in Washington waters.
Statistically speaking had Springer ended up at SeaWorld she may have been dead by now (according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), “At least 137 orcas have been brought into captivity from the wild since 1961. 124 are now dead, surviving an average only four years in captivity.”).
Or, like other captive whales she would have been bred far too young.
A similarly aged SeaWorld orca, Kohana (born in 2002) was impregnated at seven, and summarily rejected her calf, Adan. She is again pregnant by her uncle, Keto, and is due to have her second calf this fall. In this video you can see her calf Adan swimming alone after he was born.
Adan has never been accepted by the other orcas, and is often placed in a tank with Morgan, the young female orca rescued in Holland and now sharing the pools at Loro Parque, Spain with other SeaWorld orcas – in spite of international efforts to return her to wild family. Both Adan and Morgan are outcasts, unable to form bonds with the older whales. Unlike Springer, the captive industry prevailed in Morgan’s case, and her life seems bleak when compared to the normalcy of life in the wild enjoyed by Springer. Although rumors are rife that Morgan has health issues, there has been no hard data presented to support this, nor is there proof of when such damage occurred.
Meanwhile in the wild, Springer was fostered by various older females and now spends her time with a small group, where she is often seen ‘helping’ with younger calves. Please mark your calendar and try to attend one of these celebrations to learn more about this successful rescue and release, and to commend the people, groups, businesses, and government officials who came together to give Springer this chance to live wild and free. For more information: The Whale Trail
The Orca Coalition is pressing the case for the release of the little Dutch orca Morgan, based on the fact that the initial decision by the courts to send the whale to a Spanish amusement park was a temporary measure.
On June 23rd 2010, a young female killer whale was found stranded in the Wadden Sea, off the Dutch coast. The orca was brought to the Dutch dolphinarium at Harderwijk and given the name ‘Morgan’. The company vowed they would care for her until she regained her strength to be released, however it started allowing paid costumers to visit Morgan after only a few weeks, something that would get the orca used to humans and would complicate any rehabilitation and release effort. Not long after the dolphinarium mentioned the US based marine mammal park Sea World as a possible destination for orca Morgan and it was at this stage that a group of concerned Dutch animal welfare and conservation NGO’s founded the Orca Coalition. Two important court hearings followed. During the first, which was held on August 3rd 2011, the judge ruled that the responsible Ministry had neglected its obligations on the issue and should do additional research to investigate the possibilities to rehabilitate the orca and set her free. The transport of Morgan to Tenerife was temporarily blocked. However, two weeks after the second hearing, which took place on November 7th 2011, the judge announced in her ruling that the dolphinarium was allowed to move Morgan to Loro Parque. She was transported to the island by aeroplane on November 29th 2011. A new appeal hearing in the orca Morgan case will come before the Dutch courts soon, possibly as early as August. At stake is the young killer whale’s freedom as well as the potential to set a new legal precedent and change the lives of other captive animals forever. While the outcome of the case is anything but set in stone, we see great potential and with your support we can give it our best.
Once again the courts will need to carefully address Morgan’s survivability in the wild versus the trauma of life in captivity. To do so they will need to obtain an unbiased evaluation of Morgan’s health, and not rely on reports by the amusement park veterinarians.
The Free Morgan Foundation has continued to search for Morgan’s wild family, and has secured a place to prepare her for release into the wild.
This video is remarkable from an artistic point of view, and beautifully contrasts the lives of orcas in the wild versus in captivity. It is worth the extra time to view whether or not you believe captivity is the best option: