23 November 2011 / by Radmila Gurkova
Dutch judge rejects pleas for killer whale freedom
A Dutch judge has ruled that a rescued killer whale can be sent to a Canary Islands amusement park, despite pleas to release the animal into the wild.
The case of Morgan the orca sharply divided opinion in the Netherlands. The orca was rescued by a dolphinarium in Harderwijk after being found exhausted and starving in shallow waters in the Waddenzee in June 2010.
Conservationists are devastated by Monday's ruling, fearing the move to the Canaries will kill Morgan. The judge in Amsterdam decided however that the orca would have no reasonable chance of survival in the wild. The plan is to transfer Morgan within days to Loro Parque on Tenerife, where she will join five other orcas in a big tank, on show to the public. Ahead of the judge's ruling the campaign website of the Free Morgan Foundation had been getting more than 50,000 hits a day.
Niels van Elk, a vet who has been working at the dolphinarium for 13 years, thinks Morgan will be better off in captivity than in the wild.
"The theme park is the best option for her because that is where she can live in a group and that is the best we can offer her," he says.
"We as humans should not pretend that we can replace the challenges and the satisfaction that a group of killer whales can give. It is an artificial environment, it's a different life but it's a good life all the same."