Our Plea for Morgan during the Hearing last friday (sept. 9th)
- 11-09-2011 - news
This is the Orca Coalitions plea for Morgan as presented to the ministry in the hearing last friday september 9th
We have been asked to make a plea for orca Morgan. When we first heard about Morgan, we were immediately interested, an orca in the Wadden Sea, is very special indeed! We were impressed by the rescue of the Dolfinarium and confident that she would be released after rehabilitation, as they indicated themselves. You can imagine our surprise when we heard that Morgan was admitted to the public, even when she was still recovering … This was the moment that we started to look differently at the rescue operation and all pieces fell into place: Morgan would never be released if no one would stand up for her. And now I’m here. Trying my best to convince you to do the right thing. It is actually really simple: You take in an animal, and you set her free when she is healthy again. That it had to come to lawsuits and hearings to return Morgan back to her family, is something that no one in this room would have expected, one year ago.
This past year the Dolfinarium tried to do everything to exclude independent scientists. The Orca Coalition has ensured, through their “party of interest” status, that the Ministry had to listen to these scientists, but even still, these most renowned scientists and whale experts were depicted as incompetent, and their release plan was dismissed as experimental. Although the Dolfinarium has refused, from the very beginning, to release medical records and original sound recordings of Morgan, the Free Morgan Foundation has managed to write this release plan, and even to find Morgan’s family.
And that brings me to the most recent attempt by the Dolfinarium to frustrate Morgan’s return to her family. The hydrophone recordings. This request has first been made on august 4th , after the Dolfinarium continued to refuse to release the original recordings of Morgan, and this still continues to this day. First we had to wait for the written decision of the court, then there were questions to be answered, and now we even have to distance ourselves from a newspaper article, before we are allowed to make these recordings.
So far we’ve had the burden of proof, while there is no accountability for the real dangers for Morgan in Loro Parque. In our opinion there is no place where so much is wrong as in Loro Parque. Hence our surprise that the Dolfinarium specifically chose this location. Meanwhile, given all the problems and accidents with orcas it is obvious that these animals simply cannot be kept in captivity, but Loro Parque takes it too far.
Let me start with the orcas who are staying in Loro Parque:
Kohana: a female of 9 who was separated from her mother Takara and her brother Trua, for this translocation.
Adan: A male of 10 months who was rejected directly after birth, by his mother Kohana who was too young and too inexperienced.
Skyla: a female of 7 who was only 2 years when she was separated from her mother Kalina and sent to Loro Parque.
Tekoa, a male of 12, who was separated from his protector Kayla and his best friend Tuar for his translocation. Tekoa was also responsible for the nearly fatal attack on Claudia Vollhardt in October 2007.
Keto: a male of 16, who was seperated from his broter Keet, for the translocation to Loro Parque. Keto is responsible for the death of his trainer Alexis Martinez, who he brutally attacked on Christmas Eve 2009.
I would like to refute some quotes published on the website of the Dolfinarium.
1) “The group composition and the habitat of the orcas in Tenerife perfectly match the needs of a young orca,” (Marten Foppen)
In no way does the group composition of Loro Parque connect to the needs of a young orca. Instead of finding a mother figure for Morgan, she is placed with a female of 9 who has disowned her own child and who shows such aggressive behavior that he had to be put separately. The other female is only 7 and the two aggressive teenagers are hardly to be called suitable companion for Morgan.
2) “Morgan as quickly as possible to Loro Parque, because there she will have more space and the company of other orcas”.
As soon as possible? The Dolfinarium itself waited until July 17, 2011, more than one year after Morgan was taken in, to request the permit to move Morgan to Loro Parque.
More space? Morgan will be placed in the smallest basin “the medical pool’, as long as it takes her to get used to the other orcas. This medical pool is even smaller than the emergency tank where Morgan stays now. Nobody knows how long she has to stay there. Adan has spent most of his life alone in this tank.
More company? As long as Morgan is in the medical pool, she is just as alone as she is now in the Dolfinarium. And you can wonder whether Morgan should be happy with the most problematic group of orcas that are in the SeaWorld “collection”. Kohana was very aggressive towards her child, Tekoa was frequently attacked by the other orcas, including Keto, and is covered in scars and wounds. Tekoa, Skyla and Keto are so dangerous that no trainer is allowed in the water with them.
3) “The orcas in the Spanish park are cared for by caretakers who are trained by U.S. SeaWorld. Their knowledge about the care and transport of orcas goes back more than 40 years. “There is no more/better expertise in this area. We could not have found a better place for Morgan, “according to Marten Foppen.
The recently released witnessreport by Suzanne Allee shows clearly the results of poor management at Loro Parque. During the 3.5 years that she worked there she even saw how a wounded orca bleeding after an attack by another killer was forced to perform.
5 weeks after the orcas were put in their new basin, the showpool had to be closed because the orcas tore the coating of the walls and swallowed it. Cause: The pool had to be finished before the opening, so the coating was applied while the bottom layer was still wet … This resulted in frequent endoscopies of the orcas (a painful and stressful procedure) and a very bad dental condition for young Skyla.
The only veterinarian who was trained by SeaWorld left after 6 months and the experienced curator resigned after a conflict with supervisor Miguel Diaz, in 2007. The curator was never replaced. 40% of the trainers who were trained by SeaWorld, left the first year, more followed later. New ‘trainers’ were simply picked off the streets without any experience or training. This witnessreport shows that SeaWorld has no control on what is happening in Loro Parque. And in no way can be related to the years of experience of SeaWorld when it comes to Loro Parque.
They could not have found a worse destination …
And another thing:
If you compare captivity to release, there is no doubt which option would serve science more. When it comes to the knowledge that can be gained from the release of Morgan: no scientific research in a marine mammal park can compete with that.
According to international and European agreements and legislation, the government has a duty to take every effort to realize the release of Morgan back to sea, even if the chance that she will survive is not very big. This means that, given the risk for Morgan after release is at least as small as when she is transferred to Loro Parque, Morgan should be given the opportunity to reunite with her family.
The effort requirement to assess if Morgan can be released is with the Ministry, not with the Orca Coalition nor the Free Morgan Foundation. The Ministry should be happy with all the work that has already been done for them. WE are prepared to make the recordings for the Ministry, so that we can find out for the Ministry in what way these pods are related to Morgan, so that the Ministry can make the right decision. It’s up to the Ministry to ensure that these recordings can be made, and it is up to them to meet all the unrealistic conditions the Dolfinarium attached to this.
At the end of the meeting on Monday September 5th, [name removed] said that the release plan should be amplified further and all details should be filled in before serious consideration could be taken. As part of the effort requirement of the Ministry, I would say: you have your work cut out for you! But we are happy to cooperate, as we have offered in vain for a year now .. because ultimately, we all have a shared responsibility to work in the best interest of Morgan and her peers.
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