Photo: Loro Parque.
Updated 24 September 2018: Loro Parque has announced that deaf rescued orca Morgan gave birth on Saturday morning. The park says that the infant orca is in perfect health and that despite concerns about Morgan’s maternal instincts given her deafness, she has been an exemplary mother who is attending to her baby constantly. The park has released this photo of mother and baby, whose sex is not yet confirmed.
Original post 6 December 2017. Loro Parque has confirmed that the orca Morgan, rescued in 2010 in the Wadden Sea, is pregnant. Naturally, the news has gone down very badly with animal activists, and especially the Free Morgan Foundation, which has accused Loro Parque of breeding her on purpose and, it claims, illegally. The controversial nature of the pregnancy has forced the park to issue the following statement on the grounds that the management has taken into consideration the exceptional public interest for Morgan. even though the gestational status of animals is not normally communicated to the public.
On December the 4th, the Free Morgan Foundation published a press release accusing Loro Parque of breaking the law “Orca Morgan Pregnant? Loro Parque in Violation!”. This is the latest smear campaign build by this organization trying to criticise Loro Parque and its activities, with the sole objective of release Morgan back to the wild, something that was refused more than three years ago by the Dutch Supreme Court.
Free Morgan Foundation tries to mislead the public opinion saying that the CITES permit was issued under the strict condition that has to be kept for research, suggesting that breeding was not allowed. But the truth is that the research use was the exemption to the Habitats Directive in order to keep Morgan used by the Dutch Authorities. This exception does not impede the breeding, and the CITES permit of Morgan does not limit breeding either. Free Morgan Foundation has been trying to convince the CITES Authorities about this bizarre interpretation of the CITES regulations sending letters to the Spanish, Dutch and International Autorities that enforce the Convention. And they have not received any support from them, on the contrary, the Spanish CITES Authorities answered that “ … it should be noted that the Community Certificate issued by the Dutch CITES MA doesn’t set any express legal limitation to breeding and authorized to keep the orca for research, breeding or education purposes.”. But Free Morgan Foundation never published this response in their website, nevertheless, you can find all the letters sent to the different CITES MA.
Free Morgan Foundation also accuses Loro Parque of “been busy trying to breed Morgan” despite “the ban on breeding and her young age which can be dangerous to both mother and calf.”. Morgan has been ovulating regularly during the last four years, hence it should be really easy to get her pregnant, as there is no difficuties in breeding killer whales. Nevertheless, Loro Parque haven’t tried to breed her, this pregnancy is totally spontaneous and confirms her integration in the group and the display of natural sexual behaviours. It is clear that the ban on breeding only exists in the imagination of Free Morgan Foundation, and about the age of Morgan, during the successive court cases (2010-2014) they were always arguing that she was older than 2 years at the moment of rescue. That means, in the opinion of Free Morgan Foundation, she will be giving birth to her calf when at the age of 11-12 years, which is the common time for Type 1 Eastern North Atlantic Killer Whales.
Finally, Free Morgan Foundation accuses Loro Parque of breeding orcas for “Financial profit” which is totally nonsense. Under the EU regulations all the cetacean species are considered non-commercial, hence they cannot be bought or sold, but only exchanged between authorized zoological facilities, making impossible any financial profit of breeding orcas.
In conclusion, all the arguments in Free Morgan Foundation press release are absolutely false, and they are aware of its falsehood. Their only goal is to damage the reputation of Loro Parque with defamatory statements, as they are also fully aware that Morgan is unreleasable as it was ruled by the Dutch Supreme Court in its final verdict. This campaign, and the new court case that they are promoting in Holland (an appeal to the two consecutive denegations by the CITES Dutch authorities of their request to invalidate Morgan’s CITES permit) are simply a smoke screen, it will be probably very profitable in terms of donations, but totally useless from the legal perspective.
The park says that pregnancy of captive animals is a natural and very frequent phenomenon in modern zoos, and that the pregnancy was confirmed four weeks ago after a uterus ultrasound exploration due to a periodical medical check. The park also says that its keepers and veterinarian team have the knowledge and expertise necessary to follow up the gestation, providing Morgan with the highest standards of animal care in the world. The park says that it considers the reproduction as a natural right of any animal which cannot be denied under any circumstances, and that furthermore, breeding of animal species in zoos is one of the objectives according to the European Directive and the Spanish zoo’s law and is also supported by the criteria of the professional zoological associations, both national and international.
I have closed comments to this post because under law I can be held personally responsible for readers’ libellous comments, and remain responsible even if remove them if I could have anticipated they might be made … and that’s usually a given with these sorts of posts.