The Orca Whale Morgan’s Defense Team Drops a Bombshell – Dolphinarium Aware That Its Dolphins Have a ‘Social Disease’

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“A juvenile killer whale called Morgan was found alone in Dutch waters on June 23, 2010 and has been cared for since then by the Harderwijk Dolphinarium. Now that Morgan appears to be in good health, the Free Morgan Support Group , together with a global team of experts, has presented a solid plan to return her to her native habitat. The plan was designed and endorsed by scientists and experts in orca physiology, behaviour and acoustics.” This whale faces a life in captivity, and a decision may be made on November 7th, 2011.
11/7/11 Today in court the Free Morgan Foundation experts revealed that the dolphins in the Dutch aquarium Dolfinarium Harderwijk have herpes, and that the aquarium officials were aware of this at least since 2009.
These are the animals that the aquarium agreed to allow Morgan to mingle with as a result of the first court hearing several months ago.  Fortunately, the aquarium dragged their heels on compliance and Morgan was not put with the dolphins, but the dolphinarium’s lack of disclosure shows both disrespect to the courts and irresponsibility towards Morgan’s care.

The court will make a decision regarding Morgan’s future on November 21st, 2011.
The following is from research conducted at the Dolphinarium:

Besides benign proliferative lesions in
the genital mucosa, genital herpesvirus
infection is a known cause of severe
clinical disease.
Genital herpesvirus infections
can occur in the gravid uterus and
the neonate upon birth, and they may be
dangerous because neither fetus nor
neonate is immunocompetent (Avgil and
Ornoy, 2006).
Herpesvirus infection has
been described as a cause of abortion,
stillbirth, and neonatal disease in cattle,
pigs, dogs, horses, and humans (Avgil and
Ornoy, 2006; Foster, 2007; Schlafer and
Miller, 2007).
In California sea lions
(Zalophus californianus), genital herpesvirus
infection also has been implicated in
the development of urogenital tumors,
which are a significant cause of morbidity
and mortality in this species (King et al.,
Throughout the history of both parks,
dolphins had been exchanged between the two
parks and with other facilities for breeding
purposes. At the time of this investigation,
October 2007–October 2008, all dolphins from
both parks were kept together in the Netherlands

We acknowledge the training staff of
Dolfinarium Harderwijk and Parc Asterix and
Vivian Emmer for assistance with obtaining
and processing of the samples and the
inspection of the animals.

Will Morgan have to live her life in a tank?

In and of itself, there is nothing about a sexually transmitted disease that is in anyway any different from other diseases, it is just how the viruses are transmitted.  Like humans, all species on this planet are vulnerable – but unlike us they are not able to take precautions.  It is up to those who profit from keeping animals in captivity to assure that precautions are taken on the animals’ behalf.

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