Orca Whale Morgan’s Fate Follows the Golden Rule: Those Who Have the Gold, Make the Rules

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In an ideal world, business interests would not trump common sense, but time and again big business just walks over the rights of the average citizen. Here in the U.S. the wealthy and powerful have even disrupted the political system, leaving too many of us virtually jobless and homeless, and now it appears as though those conglomerates are able to influence decisions affecting the people of Europe as well.
But as the Occupy movement shows, global citizens have reached the limit of patience and tolerance – and now this one lost whale is rapidly becoming a symbol of that movement because despite scientific advice to the contrary, big business was able to prevail and a single Dutch judge was able to have this animal sent to an amusement park instead of setting her free.

Orca Morgan is hoisted by crane into a container on a truck at the Dolfinarium in Harderwijk, Netherlands, early Tuesday Nov. 29, 2011. A Dutch dolphin park has loaded a young killer whale into a container on a truck ahead of her transfer by plane to amusement park Loro Parque on the Spanish island of Tenerife later Tuesday after conservationists lost a legal batter to have her released. (AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski)

In this case, public opinion was up against several financial giants, and gradually the story of how the laws designed to preserve your rights have been sidestepped is beginning to emerge. At first glance the issue seems to involve just a young whale, a small Dutch aquarium, and a handful of conservationists – not of particular interest unless you are passionate about those things – but peel away the veneer and the real issue is revealed: money, and lots of it. This young orca is worth millions of dollars for her ability to bring in box receipts, and millions more for the fresh supply of genetic material she provides to the whole captive industry.
Who are the players? SeaWorld, though taking the heat from conservationists, is a bit player, as is the Dutch Harderwijk Dolphinarium where Morgan has been living, as is Loro Parque where she now lives with SeaWorld’s whales. The real money and power belong to the corporations that pull the puppet strings of the theme parks.
SeaWorld is owned by The Blackstone investment group, whose diverse holdings include several marine amusement parks in Europe.
Harderwijk Dolphinarium is owned by a french conglomerate, Compagnie des Alpes,  which was established to run ski resorts in 1989, but who bought marine amusement parks throughout Europe from the American corporation Six Flags relatively recently, in 2004. Six Flags had bought the parks around 1994 to 1998.
Loro Parque owner showing plans for the orca pools where Morgan now resides.

Loro Parque in the Spanish Canary Islands is owned by Wolfgang Kiessling, a german born businessman with a background as “an airline manager and flying in German investors”, who got around Spanish law prohibiting the amusement park by building it as part of hotel grounds in the  70’s.  But in 1994, about the time Six Flags was buying parks in Europe, Loro Parque formed a foundation for research, and at that time they had no orcas.
According to IslandsConnection.eu:

Then around 2003 out of the blue, they were contacted by SeaWorld, “they wanted to place four of their killer whales in appropriate installations that were not in any way competitive to them.  Thanks to our quality they decided that Loro Parque would be the right place to bring them to.”  Eventually they came to an agreement and the orcas were flown to Tenerife in 2006 and have been a monster hit with the public.

In 2010, two months before Dawn Brancheau was killed at SeaWorld Orlando, one of SeaWorld’s whales killed a trainer at Loro Parque.  In his excellent article, Blood in the Water, journalist Tim Zimmerman reports:

As I learned, SeaWorld was a key partner in the launch of the orca program at Loro Parque, loaning the park four killer whales to help it start Orca Ocean. SeaWorld’s vice president of communications Fred Jacobs explained it to me this way in an e-mail: “Loro Parque is a highly respected zoological institution, and we have worked with them for years. The relationship was conceived primarily as a breeding loan and to allow Loro Parque to showcase these remarkable animals.” He added, “The deal differed only in scale from the dozens of similar partnerships we are part of at any given time. The addition of Orca Ocean, a facility that is comparable in size and sophistication to anything found in the U.S., also provided us greater flexibility in managing our collection of killer whales.

The idea that SeaWorld “wanted to place four of their killer whales in appropriate installations that were not in any way competitive to them” is pretty amusing, because it implies that SeaWorld/Blackstone has too many whales, and can’t take care of them…but SeaWorld is breeding the whales as fast as they can, breeding them too young, and too frequently.
No, more likely, SeaWorld/Blackstone, the Dolphinarium/Compagnie des Alpes, and Loro Parque/Kiessling found a giant loophole in European law that otherwise prevents the captive industry from flourishing there;  according to sources, the amusement parks must  do research in order to house the whales.  As convenient as it is that Loro Parque now has a conservation foundation, the research with the orcas is ridiculously simplistic, could be done on any SeaWorld’s whales anywhere, and most likely exists to foil the laws.
On a par with Japan’s “research” whaling, these heavily invested companies have just managed to skirt the laws and to muffle the voices of those who protest.
It is not too late to return Morgan to her wild family.  It is still not clear that this was a legal move, and your opinion counts!
Here is a contact from a FaceBook page:
Under EU [European Union] law, it is illegal for orcas to be traded between parks for commercial purposes. One of the main arguments for sending Morgan was for ‘scientific research’, as a way to get around this law.
Please consider writing a quick email to:
And POLITELY bring to their attention the fact that Loro Parque is NOT a research facility for cetaceans, but in fact a zoo which is accepted to be for commercial purposes. Therefore, under this law, Morgan’s transfer is illegal.
Please share!
Also this one lists many contacts, including:
1. Embassy of Norway
Norway was not once consulted during the court and they still have a rightful claim on Morgan, because she is a norwegian orca.
List of embassies in the US: http://www.norway.org/Embassy/Honorary-Consulates-General/
List of embassies in the UK: http://www.norway.org.uk/Embassy/consulates/

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