Morgan’s Court Case

Since her capture on the 23rd of June 2010, orca experts and animal welfare advocates have been concerned about Morgan. Conditions for her were undesirable and unacceptable in the tiny tank she was held in at the Dolfinarium Harderwijk, in the Netherlands. Despite the availability of a robust and well researched release plan, the Dolfinarium Harderwijk refused to release Morgan. The Netherlands Government had issued the Dolfinarium Harderwijk with a special capture and release permit, however the Dolfinarium Harderwijk violated the permit and fought against Morgan’s release. The Orca Coalition was formed from a group of non-governmental organisations and they approached the Free Morgan Foundation to appear as expert witnesses and to prepare documents for the court case they would file against the Netherlands Government. Two cases were filed; one against Morgan’s CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) Transport Permit, the other was against the keeping of Morgan in captivity (as well as her welfare whilst she was being held). These two cases were run concurrently during two hearings, both held in Amsterdam (the first was held on the 3rd of August 2011, the second on the 7th of November 2011). Here we present the documents from those first two hearings. The following court hearing was on the 1st of November 2012. This investigated the findings of the first two cases. The current court hearing will be on the 3rd of December 2013 – in Den Hauge – we will be attending and invite you to do the same.

New Evidence for Morgan’s Court Case

The Free Morgan Foundation has prepared reports, now submitted to the Amsterdam Court, These are for the hearing on the 1st of November 2012. This hearing will investigate the findings of the first two cases and decide the merits of the case.

Photos Extracted from Visser (2012) – Captions Are Directly from the Report

Figure 6. Morgan (head out of water, on right) as she is rammed and pushed backwards by the two female orca, Skyla and Kohana. Note the amount of water being displaced as Morgan is forced backwards.

Focus on Mistreatment of Morgan

Our evidence focuses on how mistreated Morgan is at Loro Parque and how detrimental this is to her health. We include photographs showing her being rammed, bitten and attacked (see some examples below). Our reports are based on more than 77 hours of observations on Morgan. Although Loro Parque will claim that these attacks are ‘normal’, you can read in the supporting letters from orca scientists, that this is not the case, particularly in the wlid. In a comparative study, of captive orca, who were observed for 78 days (not hours!), only eight events involving aggression were recorded. This is in comparison to the 91 attacks observed which involved Morgan.

Trainers Ignore Morgan’s Attacks

Figure 7. The full-frame photograph of Figure 6. Note the trainers standing to the right. During all the attacks recorded by the author the trainers were present, yet ignored them.

Reports from External Scientists

Additionally, we present here reports by external scientists about the orca from Norway (where Morgan is from), letters of concern from orca scientists and correspondence between Dr Visser and Loro Parque and Dr Visser and Dr Ridgway.

Morgan Rammed and Attacked

Figure 8. Skyla (female orca, left, obscured by gate) rams Morgan (right) and partially lifts her out of the water. NOTE: Morgan’s lower caudal peduncle is concave from force of ramming (at impact site). Water is displaced at impact site & on Morgan’s left (right of frame). Morgan weighs 1364 kg, requiring her be to hit with a substantial force, in order for her to be lifted out of the water this high.

Trainers Do Nothing to Prevent Attacks & Keep Morgan with Dysfunctional Orca

Figure 11. During a training session, Morgan (partially obscured behind rail), rises out of the water in an attempt to avoid a bite from one of the two orca in the tank with her (Skyla and Kohana). This photo is one of a sequence of images, showing the open mouth and teeth progressed along Morgan’s body as she rose up and then slid down, to try to avoid the conflict.

Stereotypic Behavior Results in Morgan Damaging Herself

Figure 23. Morgan exhibits a hypertrophic scar on her lower jaws, most likely a result of repeatedly banging her chin on the concrete walls. Such stereotypic behaviour can become self mutilating to the point where the subcutaneous injury can become painful and itchy. Further damage to Morgan’s rostrum through stereotypic behaviour inflicted on (2 July 2012). The trainers (on the day she inflicted these wounds and after they were inflicted) commanded her to push a ball repeatedly on the end of rostrum, in order to receive her allocated fish. Also note that the tips of Morgan’s teeth are being worn off from chewing on the concrete (also see Figure 24).

Visser (2012) Report On The Physical Status of Morgan At Loro Parque

Court Documents & Supporting Evidence


CITES APPLICATION made by Dolfinarium Harderwijk CITES EXPORT PERMIT for Morgan from the Netherlands to Spain


Visser, Court presentation “Distressing situation for Morgan at Loro Parque”

Submitted Documents (alphabetical)

Pozzato, L. (2012) “Refuting the “Report on the introduction of a rescued Orcinus orca individual into the OrcaOcean group” by F. J. Almunia Portolés” Trouwborst, Caddell & Couzens (2012). To Free or Not to Free? State Obligations and the Rescue and Release of Marine Mammals: A Case Study of ‘Morgan the Orca’. In Press Journal of Transnational Environmental Law. Visser, I.N. (2012) “Report on the Physical & Behavioural Status of Morgan, the Wild-Born Orca held in Captivity, at Loro Parque, Tenerife, Spain” Vester, H. (2012) “Re-sighting over a seventeen year period, of an orca known as “Stumpy” Lofoten Island in northern Norway in 2012″ Vester, H. & Ilmon, C. (2012) “Re-sighting of “P118”, an adult male orca, near Vesteralen, northern Norway in 2012″

Supporting Documents

Jett, J. Ventre J. (2011) Keto & Tilikum Express the Stress of Orca Captivity Zimmermann, T. “Blood in the Water.” Outside Magazine July 2011. Zimmermann, T. “The Killer in the Pool.” Outside Magazine July 2010.

Supporting Evidence

Logs of Video recordings of Morgan at Loro Parque. By “Morgan Observer” Petition to the Netherlands Government from citizens of Oksnes municipality in Norway Transcript Discovery Tour inside Orca Ocean, Loro Parque


Letter from Stefan Bräger, PhD supporting the reversal of the export of Morgan to Spain and her careful preparation for a release into the wild Letter from Paul Spong  & Helena Symonds, Orcalab, recommending Morgan be removed from Loro Parque 20120628- email to Ridgway, from Visser re Loro Parque & Morgan 20120628- email to Alumnia & Delponti, from Visser re Dr Sam Ridgeway 20120628- email response Delponti, Patricia re Dr Sam Ridgeway 20120628- email response Almunia, Javier re Dr Sam Ridgeway

Loro Parque’s Evidence

To ensure that interested parties have access to both sides of the story, we have also included the report from Loro Parque regarding Morgan being held at their entertainment park. Almunia J. F. P. (2012) “Report on the introduction of a rescued Orcinus orca individual into the Orca Ocean group”

Graph of Morgan’s Weight, From Almunia’s Report

Almunia (2012) has a graph of Morgan’s weight in his report. We are very worried about her, because her weight should not plateau off like this (you can see that shortly after the 1st of August 2012, her weight stops increasing). Photos taken by Dr Visser, in October show distinctive signs that Morgan’s weight is an issue.

List of Evidence & Documents Submitted to Court (3 August & 7 November 2011)

Overview of Morgan’s current and proposed situation. Prepared by the Free Morgan Group, 1 August 2011 RESPONSE TO “MOTIVATION” DOCUMENT with regard to Application for CITES permit to export Morgan to Loro Parque OVERVIEW OF RESPONSE TO van ELK DOCUMENT with regard to the FREE MORGAN FOUNDATION RELEASE AND REHABILITATION PLAN RESPONSE TO van Elk DOCUMENT with regard to the FREE MORGAN FOUNDATION RELEASE AND REHABILITATION PLAN RESPONSE TO THE INTRODUCTION PLAN OF A RESCUED Orcinus orca INDIVIDUAL IN THE ORCA OCEAN GROUP ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS PERTRAITING TO MORGANS SITUATION RESPONSE TO RESEARCH PROPOSALS with regard to APPLICATION FOR CITES PERMIT TO EXPORT MORGAN TO LORO PARQUE EXTRACTS Williams., V. (2001) Extracts from “Dying to Entertain You” A report for Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), UK. Pp 100. Rose, R. Parsons, E.C.M. & Farinato, R. (2009). Extracts from “The Case Against Marine Mammals in Captivity”. The Humane Society of the United States and World Society fro the Protection of Animals, 4th edition. Pp 76. FOUR OF THE “SEVEN EXPERTS” DOLFINARIUM HARDERWIJK WHO CHANGED THEIR OPINION Dr. John Ford’s letter Dr. Christoph Guinet’s letter Dr. Christina Lockyer’s letter Dr. Fernando Ugarte’s email ANNEXES Appendix 1 CITES Guidelines flow chart Appendix 2 IUCN guidelines for Re- Introductions Dolfinarium Harderwijk educational banner “Stumpy” the Norwegian orca is provisioned and accepted by no less than five groups of orca.  Pages 48.49, extracted from: Stenersen, J., and Similä, T (2004). Norwegian Killer Whales. Tringa forlag. ISBN: 8299457734. Pp 92. TABLES Collaborators in rehabilitation and release projects List of Incidents (between orca and trainers) List of Aggressions (between orca) Comparison of ‘Research Projects’ submitted in 2005 and 2011 by Loro Parque. REPORTS & PUBLICATIONS Albright Mark (29 February 2008) “Anheuser-Bush launches multipark venture in Dubay” St. Petersberg Times (Accessed 31st July 2011) Allrodt Oliver (18 May 2007) “Mexican baby killer whale in tug of love” Reuters (Accessed 31st July 2011) Garcia J. (20 July 2011) “ SeaWorld seeks Dutch killer whale” Orlando Sentinel Hardie T. (July 2011) “Re: Introduction Plan of a rescued Orcinus orca individual in the Orca Ocean group” Unpublished report submitted to the Free Morgan Foundation. Jett J.S. & Ventre J.M. (February 2011). “Keto & Tilikum Express the Stress of Orca Captivity” Manuscript Submitted to The Orca Project Unpublished report. Pp 21.l Quintana Craig, 15 January 1994 “SeaWorld gets permission to import a killer whale from Barcelona Zoo” Orlando Sentinel (Accessed 31st July 2011) Samarra F., Duc A., Miller P.J.O. 2010 “Identification of Morgan’s discrete call repertoire and matching to sounds recorded from the wild North Atlantic killer whales” Sanchez F. (26 June 2011) “Analysis of Morgan’s behaviour at Dolfinarium Harderwijk from video clips” Unpublished report submitted to the Free Morgan Foundation. Sanchez F. July 2011 “Comments about the “introduction plan of a rescued Orcinus orca individual in the Orca Ocean group”. Unpublished report submitted to the Free Morgan Foundation. Sanchez F., & Hardie T. (20 July 2011). “Analysis of Keto’s endoscopy”. Unpublished report submitted to the Free Morgan Foundation. van Elk N. 14 November 2010 “Expert advice on the releasability of the rescued killer whale (Orcinus orca) Morgan Dolfinarium Harderwijk- SOS Dolfijn” Pp 56. Visser, I.N., and Hardie, T. M. (2011). “Morgan” the orca can and should be rehabilitated. With additional notes on why a transfer to another ‘captive orca facility’ is inappropriate and release is preferred. Unpublished Report (V 1.2) P 68+ Errata. Available from: Orca Research Trust and Free Morgan Foundation Zimmerman Tim July 2011“Blood in the water” Outside online (Accessed 31st July 2011) CORRESPONDENCE Allee S., (20 July 2011) Allee S., (28 July 2011) Bleker (undated) Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation Dolfinarium Harderwijk, (18 April 2011) Dolfinarium Harderwijk , (26 May 2011) Foote A., (7 August 2010) Foote A., (undated) Pozzato L., (12 October 2010) Pozzato L., (1 June 2011) Rose N., (29 July 2011) Rose, N., WDCS, HSUS, AWI (11 November 2010) Steven J., (21 July 2011) van der Hoef, B., (21 July 2011), DeltaPark Neeltje Jans Visser I. N., (5 June 2010) Vester H., (21 July 2011) Vester H., (21 July 2011) Wemelsfelder F., (19 July 2010) Endorsement and commitment letters by Free Morgan Expert Board members Berta S., Garrett H. and Orca Network, (July 2011) Cousteau J.M. ,H. Lohuis and Ocean Future, (July 2011) Hardie T. and Orca Research Trust, (July 2011) Pozzato L., (July 2011) Ray C., (July 2011) Rossiter W. and CSI, (July 2011) Sanchez F., (July 2011) SeaWolf, (July 2011) Spong, H. Symonds and OrcaLab, (July 2011) van Ginneken A., July 2011 Visser I. and Orca Research Trust, (July 2011) Williamson C. and WDCS, July2011 Endorsement letters by Non Free Morgan Expert Board members Mahlke L., July 2011 Martens H., July 2011 Orka Coalitie, July 2011 Rose N., (21July 2011) LIST OF ALL THE DOCUMENTS GIVEN TO THE MINISTRY Power Point Presentation “Morgan should and can go free” Pozzato L. September 2011 Power Point Presentation “Morgan Rehabilitation and Release” Pozzato L. September 2011 Power Point Presentation “Risk assessment rehabilitation and release orca Morgan” van Twillert J. September 2011 Transport Plan to Norway FMF September 2011 “Detailed step by step Plan for rehabilitation and training for Morgan the orca” FMF September 2011 Letter regarding Loro Parque’s facilities Visser 24th September 2011 Photo evidence from Loro Parque Visser 2011 Letter to the Ministry FMF 15 September 2011 (in Dutch) “Summary report on the acoustic analysis” FMF September 2011 “Extended family report” FMF September 2011 “Commenting on the scientific research projects” FMF September 2011 “Comparison of Morgan’s discrete call repertoire with a recent catalogue of Norwegian killer whale calls” Vester and Samarra September 2011 Vester, Heike (August 4 2011), Letter regarding the necessity of new acoustic recording of Morgan LIST OF THE DOCUMENTS TO SUBMITTED for 7 NOVEMBER 2011 Research Proposals (Bound together with the CVs of the authors and a covering letter) Foster and Visser (26th October 2011), “Morgan‘s Transport to Neeltje Jans Protocol prepared for Free Morgan Foundation” Response to the document “Introduction plan to the Dolphins” of the Dolfinarium Also contains letters from: Dr. Verné Dove (PhD) Dr. Lori Marino (PhD) Dr. Ingrid Visser (PhD) Jeff Foster Suzanne Allee Carol Ray Frank Sanchez Samantha Berg Further comments on the Loro Parque “Introduction plan” containing letters from: Dr. Tiü Similla (PhD) Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennart (PhD) Dr. Craig Matkin (PhD) Dr. Jeff Ventre (MD) Dr. Alexandra Morton (PhD) Dr. Rob Williams (PhD) Dr. Ingrid Visser (PhD)