Exklusiv für zoos.media – 04.07.2020. Autor: Philipp J. Kroiß
Free Morgan Foundation: Celebrating Morgan‘s Anniversary with Lies
10 years ago, a young female orca that was later called Morgan was rescued. Thanks to the emergency care at Harderwijk Dolfinarium she didn’t die. She survived, which was like a miracle, but couldn’t stay there because they rescuers didn’t have the facilities to house a grown-up orca. So, it was ruled by the government that Morgan should move to the most modern facility for orcas in the world: Orca Ocean in Loro Parque.
She was introduced to the group, found her position in the hierarchy, and then became a mother of the cute baby Ula. This is a miracle and a success that was never achieved before: a close-to-death orca that was saved, found a new group, and then became the parent of a wonderful calf in human care. Often, great success comes with envy and resentment. This was also the case.
Animal rights industry wanted to control Morgan
From the beginning, the animal rights industry lied about Morgan, her family, and her health. Free Morgan Foundation (FMF) was always in the front line. Now, that the world celebrates the rescue anniversary and after the FMF lost every single court battle against Loro Parque, the lying doesn’t stop. In this article, we want to expose lies and misinformation published by the Free Morgan Foundation.
These lies follow a strategy: the animal rights organization wants to control her because they plan their own orca husbandry. Opening this with a star like Morgan would allow them to attract visitors and the press. They already abuse her to make money by selling promises, they were never able to keep, and cheap merchandising, that doesn’t help Morgan but allow them to live from their questionable activism.
Lies about her hearing
“Given a ‘clean bill of health’ by the veterinarian involved with capturing her in the Netherlands, she was not returned to the ocean, but she was shipped to Loro Parque where it was suddenly claimed that she had lost her hearing. How could such a thing have occurred? There is evidence from other cetaceans that have been shipped by plane that the drugs used can cause deafness.” – This is naughty misinformation.
In the Netherlands, Morgan’s health was monitored but the animal wasn’t trained. Her caretakers had a very tactile relationship with her and she could perfectly observe the whole facility, which was a med pool that was appropriate for her as a young animal but she could have not lived there when she would be an adult. Because of her environment in Harderwiijk Dolfinarium, Morgan could easily compensate the lack of hearing.
At Loro Parque, the installation was much bigger and as soon as the trainers started working with her, they realized that something was not like with the other orcas. As soon as Morgan couldn’t see or feel something, she didn’t react. Normally, orcas react to sound cues but Morgan never did that. But Loro Parque is a center of research and animal welfare, so they wanted to find out, what Morgan had because her health was best possible.
At that time, you couldn’t simply make a hearing test with orcas because it simply didn’t exist. So, Loro Parque invited independent and renowned scientists to conduct research on the hearing of killer whales to evaluate the hearing capacity of Morgan. This research resulted in two hearing tests that proved that Morgan didn’t respond to all sounds the researchers were able to produce. These were the first hearing tests of that kind that were ever been done with orcas and they taught the scientific community a lot about the hearing capacities of orcas. This can be used to protect orcas in the wild as well.
But Morgan’s hearing was impacted already when she was found, as it appears. It is assumed that this was because of military testing that occurred shortly before she was found but the research is still on its way. Care and research of Morgan were all financed by Loro Parque, not a single animal rights activist supported the research understanding the case of Morgan or the special care that is needed to properly house her. The activists preferred to spread lies and finance marketing campaigns for their abusive business concerning Morgan’s case.
At this time, it’s important to remember what the activists, and especially Free Morgan Foundation, would have liked to do: release her without any further research. This would have been her death sentence. In addition, still, no one is able to locate her pod and she would need a group because the population from which she originates is specialized in cooperative hunting. This also causes the next problem: this hunting technique requires constant communication. Morgan is not able to hear this communication which is probably why she was left alone by her pod.
Lies about her integration
“Since her arrival at Loro Parque (in Spain), she has been bitten, bullied and according to Loro Parque ‘accidentally’ allowed to get pregnant, then when her deformed calf was born she was separated from her.” – This is simply wrong, too.
When Morgan arrived at Loro Parque she was slowly introduced to the group. An introduction in an orca group included negotiations concerning the hierarchy, which is normal in social animals all over the world and the animal kingdom. These negotiations can become quite intense and that’s their normal behavior. Morgan was not bullied; she just found her position within the group.
Of course, Loro Parque allowed her to have sex with the other animals because that’s also part of the normal social interaction of orcas and other dolphins. Then she became pregnant just like it happens in wild populations as well. That’s the normal way of life – why should Loro Parque prevent that? There is not a single reason to do that, especially when you talk about animal welfare.
Like in relatively many first-time-moms, there were problems with the milk supply for Ula, who was never “deformed”. Complications are also completely normal and also a reason why, in the wild, many (first) calves die. But the experts in Loro Parque were prepared for that because that is what you do when you care for a baby (orca): be prepared for everything that could happen. So, they temporarily separated mother and daughter to allow Ula to survive.
For over a year now, both live happily together and enjoy their life together with all other members of the group. What should Loro Parque have done? Let her die? So, again, Free Morgan Foundation tells the wrong story to their followers.
Who owns Morgan?
“Loro Parque, Dolphinarium Harderwijk (who captured her) and SeaWorld (who claim to have owned her but who pawned her off to Loro Parque as soon as the ‘we don’t breed our orca’ pledge to the public was broken) are all complicit in the cover-up of her treatment and how her ‘ownership’ was shifted between these commercial facilities against EU law.” – Completely wrong!
First of all, Morgan was never owned by SeaWorld. She was listed by SeaWorld because SeaWorld constantly collects data on their whales and she lived with whales that were owned by SeaWorld. So, she, of course, appeared in their data collection, although SeaWorld never owned her. As soon as SeaWorld aimed to implement their wrong breeding ban, that will harm their animals in the long-term, they had to face the fact that this breeding ban violates EU law.
The solution to this problem was that the ownership of the animals, which were on loan at Loro Parque, was transferred to Loro Parque itself. This was a great contribution to conservation by SeaWorld because the group of orcas at Loro Parque are an important column of a project preventing the extinction of an orca population in the Strait of Gibraltar as well as a project to expand the Macaronesian protection area for marine animals – both are led by Loro Parque Fundación.
So, Free Morgan Foundation again lies to its audience.
Did they ever actually look at her real husbandry?
“To anyone who has a semblance of respect for wildlife, they would recognize that keeping any cetacean in a concrete tank, making any animal perform tricks for its food while loud music and dancing is performed as a background, that such methods are not a model for ‘rescue’.” – This is ridiculous on many levels.
In reality, Morgan lives in a system of pools that are filled with more than 22 million liters of water coming directly from the Atlantic Ocean (but is filtered, of course, because it simply won’t be legal to have animals living in this water quality that the ocean currently has). She always has got the choice to participate in training, presentations, or anything else. So, it’s her choice, nothing else.
For decades, every experienced trainer that works in accredited and certified facilities like Loro Parque knows that food deprivation simply doesn’t work. Even in the 1960s, this was already known and only bad trainers worked with that. The system of positive reinforcement doesn’t include punishment like food deprivation or anything alike. The music isn’t loud and dancing isn’t the part of the presentation.
Every day, the animals are trained five to six hours to benefit them cognitively and physically. This is always an offer – no animal is forced to do that. The animals like to train, so they participate in the training. Thanks to science, we know that dolphins and other whales pour our happiness hormones during training sessions.
So, the question is: when Free Morgan Foundation used the money of donators to travel around the world and watch the orcas at Loro Parque – what did they actually do? They seem to never have visited the presentations because the picture they create is so amazingly wrong, that it is really ridiculous. The experts at Loro Parque often talked to Ingrid Visser, who is the leader of Free Morgan Foundation, and explained the truth to her, presented data, and more. This information was never completely passed to her followers – but why? Well, it seems to be obvious why: it’s because of the facts simply refute the narrative of this organization collecting money of well-meaning animal friends with lies.
The idea of a “seaside sanctuary”
Free Morgan Foundation would like to tear Morgan and her daughter Ula out of the group to place them in a so-called “seaside sanctuary” – but this is not even existing. There is not a single “sanctuary” for orcas in the whole world. The animal rights industry wanted to build that but now seem to focus now more on belugas, not orcas. The industry even found a place for their own little SeaWorld but still don’t have a single animal.
According to the plan, this “sanctuary” would be a bunch of net cages that expose the animals to the chemical and noise pollution of boat traffic close to the cages that are placed in waters that are not known for their good quality. So, this would be a massive downgrade for both, mother and daughter. Only once a similar project was built: it was for Keiko, who died through the hands of the activists, and it was as big as a show pool in SeaWorld – smaller than Morgan’s and Ula’s habitat at Orca Ocean.
In addition, it’s not clear how they would like to finance the husbandry in the long-term – they even don’t get the money for building this in the first place for years now. They would need millions of dollars to finance the husbandry of the animals and they simply don’t have that money. While Loro Parque invested millions in conservation, they lost millions for marketing campaigns for a project they are not able to realize and smear campaigns to get in the custody of the animals.
Merlin Entertainment’s “Beluga Sanctuary” is failing constantly during the last months. They kind of recreated the questionable husbandry of Keiko to house three belugas from China. One beluga whale, already died, the remaining two females are in a small temporary holding facility for over a year now. Now, it is promised again that they would move to the net cages – like it is promised for months now.
So, sanctuaries owned by animal rights activists don’t work – they don’t work for dolphins and other whales, same as they don’t work for elephants, primates and big cats. An often-advertised big cat sanctuary was recently exposed by the series “Tiger King” and different sanctuaries for elephants and primates were accused of bad husbandry. Luckily, this will not be the future of Morgan.
The future of Morgan
Morgan was rescued by true heroes of animal rescue and conservation, first in the Netherlands, then in Tenerife. Her presence already contributed a lot to research, education, and conservation. Loro Parque is an animal embassy and one of the centers providing not only a future to the animals in its care but also for the animals around the world.
Morgan will stay an important part of that – as well as Ula and all the other members of their new family. If Free Morgan Foundation wants to continue the waste of the donated money, they will lose again in front of the court because, in reality, the lies the organization constantly shares were already refuted many times. This won’t change anything because Morgan is doing great and thrives. Millions of people will be able to see that again as soon as Loro Parque re-opens.