Morgan the orca will not be freed from her tank at a Spanish amusement park, according to a verdict released today. The Dutch Council of State ruled that Morgan's highly-contested 2011 move to an amusement park in Spain was lawful, and that -- for now at least -- Morgan will not be returned to the ocean.
"Returning the killer whale to the ocean, as proposed by the animal welfare groups in the Morgan Release Plan, was not deemed to be an ‘alternative, satisfactory solution' because Morgan's native pod had not been found and she belonged to a population with a highly complex social structure," the court said.
Found in a severely weakened state in the Wadden Sea in 2010, Morgan was taken to the Dolfinarium Harderwijk and nursed back to health. Then, she was shipped to Loro Parque in the Canary Islands in late 2011, because officials said releasing her back into the ocean was too risky. See this post for more information about Morgan's history.
Animal advocates, spearheaded by orca expert Ingrid Visser, who has studied Morgan at length, and the Free Morgan Foundation, say that she is subject to frequent "aggression incidents," including bite marks and confrontations with other whales in the tank. Visser has also observed stereotypic behaviors and painful tooth problems she has from chewing on the tank's walls. You can read more about Morgan's disturbing conditions at Loro Parque here.