Video of killer whale beaching at water park prompts outrage

Whale Beaches Herself After Show
Whale Beaches Herself After Show

Footage of a captive killer whale beaching itself after a show at a Tenerife water park has caused indignation on social media, prompting calls for the giant animal to be returned to the wild.

Morgan, the orca, is seen deliberately pulling itself out of the water at Loro Parque in the Canary Islands and laying motionless for several minutes, in a video taken by "Morgan Monitors" and shared on Vimeo.

Morgan on concrete slide-out, Loro Parque, 05/16 from Dolphin Project on Vimeo.

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Visitors reportedly took selfies with the Morgan in the background, according to The Dolphin Project, a group campaigning against dolphin and whale's captivity.

Loro Parque has some whales on loan from SeaWorld, and Mashable has reached out to the park to clarify how many.

One user commented to the video, saying: "Looks to me as if she was trying to take her own life, I don't blame her."

"This is one of many examples of what is wrong with captivity. One would never see this bizarre behavior in nature," says Richard O'Barry, founder of Dolphin Project.

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He noted that while the orca's behaviour cannot be explained, "the juxtaposition of a previously wild orca against the stark backdrop of the park's performance area is unsettling, to say the least."

Twitter users started a #FreeMorgan thread to express their outcry at the killer whale's alleged mistreatment:

The whale was taken from the wild in 2010 by a local theme park, Dolfinarium Harderwijk, under a Dutch government-issued "rescue, rehabilitation and release" permit, according to the Free Morgan campaigning group. It was later transferred to Loro Parque in the Canary island by order of a Dutch court.

However, the theme park "never fulfilled the 'rehabilitation and release' part of the permit," claims Free Morgan.

The park responded to the accusations, telling Sky News: "Voluntary stranding is a natural behavior in wild orcas.

"The orcas at Loro Parque are trained to leave the water on their own accord. This behavior is used for manifold purposes, for example, for presenting the animals to the public, for conducting corporal check-ups, for inspecting their blowholes, as well as for testing hearing abilities of the orcas.

"During their free time, sometimes animals get on stage, even go sliding from side to side. This is done quite naturally, often associated with game dynamics.

"Pretending that's a stress test shows an enormous ignorance about the behavior of these animals."

The video comes after SeaWorld announced in March it would no longer breed killer whales in captivity at any of its parks, making its current generation of orcas its last.

For years, public pressure piled on the company to phase out its orca shows.

SeaWorld was already fighting a California ruling from October 2015 that had banned orca breeding at its San Diego park.

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