MORGAN, a female orca whale which has caused no end of controversy since she was found in a sorry condition in 2010 and taken into captivity, has horrified visitors to Tenerife’s Loro Parque wildlife park with what appeared to be a suicide attempt.
The huge killer whale was caught on video by tourists seemingly intentionally beaching herself on a concrete slab by the side of a pool at the park after a show, with visitors claiming she spent more than 10 minutes lying still out of the water.
This behaviour, experts say, is far from normal as wild orcas remain in constant motion, even while sleeping, apart from a few populations which will beach themselves occasionally for very short spaces of time while hunting. If beached for too long, their huge weight can cause internal organs and muscles to become crushed.
Worryingly, this is not the first time Morgan has sparked concern for her wellbeing in captivity. In April, an anonymous activist sent a video to the Dolphin Project showing the orca in apparent distress ramming her head against a metal gate in an attempt to get into a neighbouring, larger pool. However the park released a statement after the video was published on the Dolphin Project website insisting that the whale’s behaviour was normal and complaining that the video was an attempt to discredit the park.
The park owner, SeaWorld, has also received criticism in the past both over Morgan, the only one of the six orcas kept in the park in Tenerife that was born in the wild, and the condition of whales at another park in the US.
Although there is even a website and Facebook page campaigning to have Morgan freed into the wild, Loro Parque sources have said this is not feasible as she has been found to have hearing problems which would seriously affect her chances to surviving out of captivity.