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# Orca~Morgan: The Missed Opportunity #

Animals  (tags: Dolphinarium, Hardewijk, The Netherlands, bleker, foppe, seaworld, loro parque, orcacoalition, orca morgan )

- 2678 days ago -
The Dutch courts ruled that orca Morgan is allowed to be transported to the entertainment park Loro Parque on the Spanish island of Tenerife. A missed opportunity because the orca was one of the best known candidates for release back into the wild ~


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Ester Hellen (213)
Wednesday November 23, 2011, 12:40 pm
Orca Morgan: the missed opportunity
Tuesday 22 November, 2011, 19:03, opinion by Wietse van der Werf

Yesterday the Dutch courts ruled that orca Morgan is allowed to be transported to the entertainment park Loro Parque on the Spanish island of Tenerife. A missed opportunity because the orca was one of the best known candidates for release back into the wild. Although we are saddened by the outcome of the legal proceedings, we remain realistic and take a positive look at the work that lies ahead

For us the Morgan campaign wasn't just about saving Morgan from a life time in captivity. This has of course always been the absolute priority but it is important to recognise that our efforts have set in motion a change which is much bigger than just benefiting Morgan. We need to accept that although we might have lost the ability to block Morgan's transport to Loro Parque, the combined efforts of the Orca Coalition and Free Morgan Foundation managed to start up one of the largest and most effective international community response campaigns ever, calling for the release of a captive orca.

The Dutch dolphinarium which kept Morgan isn't doing very well at the moment, in fact many dolphinariums around Europe are closing down. 15 years ago Germany counted 9 dolphinariums and now only 3 remain, one of which will close down next year partly thanks to our campaigning efforts. What we are seeing is a change in people's perception of these animal circuses. The Morgan campaign has greatly helped in that sense - the Dutch dolphinarium's reputation is clearly crumbling.

We believe it is important we start to look beyond the campaign which has so far focused on blocking the export of Morgan and take note of the challenges which lie ahead. We are definitely not giving up on Morgan but feel the need to look at the bigger picture.

Many marine species, including the Orcinus orca to which Morgan belongs are increasingly threatened by human activity. Habitat destruction, pollution, whaling, destructive fishing practices and climate change are all but a few causes for the diminishment of the orca populations. It is about time that nations started taking these issues more seriously and a more pro-active approach is needed to fulfill our moral and legal obligations to give these animals adequate protection.

It is quite simple. International conservation regulations require that an animal which has been captured from the wild needs to be released and where this is not an option, it can only be kept for the purpose of scientific research. Neither of these were the case in the situation of Morgan. We formed the Orca Coalition and started legal proceedings simply because her captivity and export plans were illegal. What is most alarming about the judge's ruling is that she, along with the Dutch government, simply took the most easy option. Because what if she ruled otherwise? What if orca Morgan would have been transported to Norway? Would this mean that other orcas might also become feasible candidates for release? What about the claims the industry has been making for many years, that captive orcas enjoy the best life staying where they are: inside their tanks? What would the effect be of such a decision? Obviously the judge felt this weight on her shoulders and opted for the easy way out.

It is a shame to see that the Dutch courts couldn't find the courage to make the historic decision and start putting a serious spanner in the works of this profitable and mostly illegal industry. We were close though and it is really only a matter of time before a judge somewhere makes the right decision.

Orca Morgan is a missed opportunity to do what is right for this animal and the many more which will be unfortunate enough to be caught up in the lucrative captivity trade. Orca Morgan was the chance to prove that captive animals can successfully be released, hence why the industry was determined to stop it from happening. They might have won this time and it's very unfortunate for Morgan. But don't be fooled. In 15 years time there won't be many sea world's and dolphinariums left. Whether it is because of health and safety issues, animal welfare concerns or simply because the whole concept is cruel and outdated; watching dolphins and orcas jump through hoops is a thing of the past.

We must remain positive and determined. The orca Morgan campaign made big steps and has managed to start a lot more than a mere lawsuit. The tables are turning. It is up to all of us to work together in the coming years and raise the necessary awareness among the public to help people make the right choice in turning their backs on whale and orca shows. Free Morgan!

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