Will a Spanish Zoo Conquer the Will of the Dutch People in the Battle Over the Rescued Orca Whale, Morgan?

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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.” Loro Parque is trying to obtain this whale, and a decision may be made on November 7th, 2011. Please contact the Free Morgan Foundation for more information.

Even the penguins have a better environment. (cc photo)

Spanish Loro Parque looks to be a modern zoo, and seems to go to great length to provide most species with enriched environments – that is, except for the marine mammals.  Although the orca exhibit was opened in 2006,  zoo designers gave these bright animals yet another featureless bathtub to call home.  The zoo boasts the capacity to keep their relatively new  orca tank clean and cool – but they also seems to have walked right into a time warp and built a marine mammal facility that is part 60’s circus and part SeaWorld theatrics. They keep five orcas there, on loan from SeaWorld, and are trying to get custody of the rescued orca Morgan.
In general, visitors give the zoo high marks, and most complaints are related to the prices (you can check the Trip Advisor rating here). According to Wikipedia, the other creatures on display in the park are ‘the most diverse collection of parrots in the world’,  chimpanzees, gorillas, marmosets, sea lions, otters, jaguars, tigers, iguanas, alligators, giant tortoises, flamingos, pelicans, exotic fish, piranhas, sea horses, and various sharks.
And all of those animals have better homes than the orcas.
This video shows both how much the trainers care for the orcas, yet how unsuitable and unnecessary it would be to send Morgan there:

Several trainers have been injured and one  has died at Loro Parque because captive orcas are not safe  – they suffer when their families are broken up, and they are bored by confinement.

On October 6, 2007, apprentice trainer Claudia Vollhardt was attacked and nearly drowned by Tekoa. After this attack, the trainers ceased to do waterwork for more than six months, and never again with Tekoa.
In the spring of 2009, Skyla, the youngest orca, was also excluded from waterwork after she pushed trainer Rafa Sanchez around in the pool and up against the walls with her rostrum during a show.
Less than a year later, on Christmas Eve of 2009, 29-year old Alexis Martinez was crushed to death in the jaws of Keto. After spending two and a half minutes at the bottom of the 12-meter deep main pool, his body was retrieved but he was never able to be revived. He went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance on the way to BelleVue Medical Center in Puerto de la Cruz, and was pronounced dead. His funeral was held the next day, on Christmas, and his ashes were spread at Playa El Socorro at sundown. Since then, the trainers do not enter the water with any of the orcas. The park initially characterized the death as an “accident”, however the subsequent autopsy report stated that Alexis died due to grave injuries sustained by an orca attack, including multiple compression fractures, tears to vital organs, and the bitemarks of the animal on his body.[8][9] During the investigation into the death of Alexis Martinez, it came to light that the park had also mischaracterized to the public the 2007 incident with Tekoa, and claimed it was also an “accident” rather than an attack.[10]   (Wikipedia)

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