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The future seems hopeless for Morgan the Orca. Yesterday (13th) at an Amsterdam Court house judges delivered their final decision in the case of Morgan. Morgan is a young female orca, who was captured off the coast of the Netherlands in June 2010, taken to a dolphinarium near Amsterdam and was eventually shipped to an amusement park in Tenerife, Spain. The trial began on November the 1st (See SchNEWS 831) and was the third in the series of court proceedings Morgan has been involved in since her glorious rescue in 2010.
The Orca Coalition had filed a lawsuit to return Morgan back to the wild. The judges concluded the decision made by a Dutch Minister to allow the young female orca to be transported to Tenerife was lawful and all appropriate legal steps were taken in the process. The license to transfer Morgan was granted given the stipulation the orca would only be used for educational purposes. This is clearly not the case as the orca is being trained to perform tricks which goes against the terms agreed with the license. The court also stated there is not sufficient reason to think the orca’s health is in danger; however evidence shows Morgan is attacked by other orca in the park on top of the injuries is inflicts on herself. The lawsuit was backed by animal rights campaigners, international scientists, orca experts and a host of celebrities from all corners of the world. Since her rescue the orca was incorporated into captivity, without any release plans. Orcas after all are hard to come by. The small print under her rescue plan would have read something like “As payment for my rescue I will spend a life in servitude, doing tricks at amusement parks in tacky resorts. I understand I will never swim in the ocean again or have any interaction with other sea creatures apart from ones in captivity. I will not incite other orca. I will not object to being part of the captive orca breeding programme… and so on”.
The Orca Coalition tried to give Morgan a fighting chance against tough odds, marine biologist Barbara van Genne said during an interview “We are extremely disappointed that the legislation gives so little protection to wild animals as Morgan. Decisions about the rehabilitation of these animals should not be left to commercial stakeholders, because of the undermining of the interests of the animal, and there is no question of protection. Luckily we were able to expose this problem thanks to the support of many private supporters, and we have generated global attention for the protection of wild animals and the fate of orcas in captivity”. This ruling sanctions that animal rescue can have an unfortunate end result for wildlife as it then becomes captive and a profitable commodity for its captors. The Orca Coalition wants to lobby for a distinct separation between organisations that rescue wild animals and organisations that have an interest in keeping animals in captivity.
The Orca Coalition is made up of seven organisations which took legal action for the release of Morgan and build public pressure to ensure the Dutch authorities enforced adequate protection for cetaceans. “The fact that the license for the care of these animals is no longer in the name of the amusement park Dolfinarium, but in the name of SOS Dolphin, is a good first step.” says van Genne. The coalition group included the Dutch wildlife conservation organizations Dolphin Motion, EDEV – Een Dier Een Vriend , Bite Back, PINK!, Sea First Foundation, The Black Fish and Four Paws. Throughout all the court proccedings the Orca Coalition had been working alongside the Free Morgan Foundation a group of orca scientists and cetacean specialists such as marine biologist Ingrid Visser, Cetacean Field Veterinarian with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Verne Dove and many others. Their expertise played a vital role in pushing this unprecedented case forward however disappointing the results have turned out to be.
Morgan will continue to be imprisoned at Loco, Parque in Tenerife. Animal rights groups in Spain have expressed their intent to continue raise awareness and to fight for the future of the unlucky Orca. The orca coalition plans to get together soon to discuss what their next course of action will be regarding the young female orca. For updates and latest news please follow on @OrkaCoalitie on Twitter or visit the website at http://www.orcacoalition.org
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