Has SeaWorld laundered a free-born orca? By description, 'illicit trade - not legally permitted or authorized, occurring under the radar, involving activities that are not considered morally acceptable' would all fit under the guise of laundering.
According to a formidable white paper that has just been released, SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. has been the principal beneficiary of an act of illicit wildlife trade for at least the last four years and the for-profit franchise hasn't been working alone. Loro Parque in Spain and Dolfinarium Harderwijk in the Netherlands are complicit in SeaWorld's act to launder a free-born Norwegian female orca right under everyone's noses.
The white paper, authored by orca expert Dr. Ingrid Visser, Ph.D. and attorney Matthew Spiegl, J.D., unravels American, Spanish and Dutch, as well as European Union law to shine a light on this duplicitous sleight of hand made by three prominent players in the marine entertainment captivity industry.
The young orca in question, known as Morgan, was found alone and emaciated off the Dutch coast in 2010 and was captured by Dolfinarium Harderwijk for rehabilitation. According to the permit she was rescued under, Morgan should have been returned to the wild, with over 30 experts agreeing she was a suitable candidate for release. However, despite this, the Dutch courts decided that Morgan should be sent to Loro Parque. Morgan still resides at the Spanish park, living in a concrete tank with five SeaWorld-owned orcas, four of whom were flown, on loan, to Loro Parque in 2006 (with the fifth being born at the park the same year Morgan was captured). Somewhere along the line, SeaWorld has laid claim to Morgan too.