Killer Whale Morgan Transferred to Spanish Zoo, Condemned to Life in Captivity

Weeks after Dutch judge sides with Sea World, Morgan arrives on Canary Islands.

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Killer Whale Morgan Transferred to Spanish Zoo, Condemned to Life in Captivity

Trainers place killer whale Morgan in a sling to be hoisted by crane into a container on a truck at the Dolfinarium in Harderwijk, Netherlands. (Photo: Arab News)

Welcome to hell the Sea World family, Morgan.

After Dutch conservationists lost a lengthy legal battle to release Morgan, a killer whale, into the free waters of the open ocean, the 3,000-pound mammal has been transferred to a Spanish Zoo, joining SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s corporate collection of cetacean cash cows.

Estimated to be around three years old, Morgan was rescued in shallow waters off the Netherlands in 2010.

A female orca that can both breed and introduce new genes into the pool of captive killer whales is an underwater ATM potentially worth millions of dollars.

The original rescue plan called for Morgan to be transferred to the Dutch dolphinarium, where the severely malnourished specimen could be nursed back to health, reports the Associated Press.

But after the dolphinarium assembled a team of experts for advice, it was found she had little chance of survival in the wild unless her natal pod, or family, could be identified. Authorities then decided it should be transferred to Loro Parque, on the Canary Islands, which already has several orcas.

Cetacean conservationists don’t buy this line of thought—at all.

A female orca that can both breed and introduce new genes into the pool of captive killer whales is an underwater ATM potentially worth millions of dollars.

Legally, Morgan cannot be transferred to the U.S., but her offspring can.

She is the twenty-seventh killer whale in SeaWorld’s collection, including eight at SeaWorld San Diego, seven at SeaWorld Orlando, and six each at SeaWorld San Antonio and Loro Parque, reports The Orlando Sentinel.

Conservationists oppose sequestering dolphins—technically, killer whales, or orcas, are classified as oceangoing dolphins—in captivity.

“In fact, putting orcas together in captivity may sometimes even make their lives worse. Many problems arise in captivity when animals are put together as  ‘tank mates’…In captivity all choice is removed, and this can result in animals attacking each other or becoming so stressed that they harm themselves or attack their trainers,” reads a statement from Free Morgan, the conservationist group that fought her transfer to Spain.

Last year, Tillkum, a killer whale housed at Shamu Stadium in SeaWorld Orlando, killed a trainer. Jim Borrowman, a whale-watching expert in British Columbia, told CNN that wild orcas regularly travel 100 nautical miles each day, and to put them in a pool where they swim around in circles continually, and kept away from their families, “takes a toll on their brains.”