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 seven 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 four hearings, both held in Amsterdam (the first was held on the 3rd of August 2011, the second on the 7th of November 2011, and the third on the 1st of November 2012. The third investigated the findings of the first two cases). Then there was an appeal hearing on the 3rd of December 2013 – in Den Hauge.
The evidence we presented at each of these hearings is located on the Evidence for Court page of this website. You can read about the Verdict and the subsequent Spiegl & Visser (2015) Comity White Paper on their relevant pages also.
In August 2016 the FMF challenged the legitimacy of Morgan’s European Union (EU) CITES transfer and exemption certificate. It asked the Government of the Netherlands, to act on Morgan’s behalf – to use its vested authority to ensure that Morgan’s legal rights were protected – but it refused and as such the FMF was left with no choice but to take the Netherlands Government to Court. That hearing was held on the 23rd of January 2018.