Activists are concerned that video of an orca named Morgan, on loan from SeaWorld to a Spanish zoo, shows the animal attempting to commit suicide by beaching itself.
"While we cannot explain the reason for her behavior, the juxtaposition of a previously-wild orca against the stark backdrop of the park’s performance area is unsettling, to say the least," The Dolphin Project, the animal rights organization that posted the video, said in a statement.
According to Time
, whales do sometimes beach themselves for short periods of time, but their organs are at risk of being crushed if they remain out of buoyant waters for too long.
The zoo, Loro Parque in Spain's Canary Islands, defended itself in a response statement.
"It is absolutely illogical and absurd to assume that the length and the quality of such video would be sufficient to make a conclusion and declaration of such nature," the park said, referencing assertions that the whale was trying to kill itself.
"A voluntary stranding is a natural behavior of orcas living in the wild . . . 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."
People magazine reported
that Morgan was found emaciated and swimming in the wild near the Netherlands in 2010. Local theme park Dolfinarium Harderwijk captured her as part of a "rescue, rehabilitation, and release" permit from the Dutch government, but she has not obviously not been released.
The Free Morgan Foundation, comprised of Orcalab, Orca Network, Orca Research Trust, Centre for Whale Research, and several other organizations, has fought for years now to have the orca released back into the wild.
Previously, in April, a separate video showed Morgan ramming her head into a metal grate in a seeming attempt to get into a larger pool with a male orca, The Daily Mail reported
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