Dutch killer whale Morgan gets new home

2011-11-30 16:39

Madrid - A young killer whale at the centre of a legal battle waged by Dutch conservationists has arrived at its new home on the Canary Islands, a spokesperson for a Spanish zoo said on Wednesday.

The 1 400kg female orca named Morgan arrived at Loro Parque on the island of Tenerife late on Tuesday after being flown from the Netherlands, Patricia del Ponte said.

Photographs issued showed the whale being lowered by crane in a cloth hammock into a pool tank at the park.

The estimated 3-year-old whale was rescued in shallow waters off the Netherlands in 2010.

The Dutch government permit that originally approved her capture said a Dutch dolphinarium could hold her and restore her health so she could be released.

But after the dolphinarium assembled a team of experts for advice, it was found she had little chance of survival in the wild unless her natal pod, or family, could be identified. Authorities then decided it should be transferred to Loro Parque, which already has several orcas.

Opposing experts for the "Free Morgan" group said the dolphinarium was guided by financial interests, rather than concern for the animal's well-being, and proposed a plan for reintroducing her to the wild.

International treaties prohibit the trade of killer whales - which are actually classified as ocean going dolphins - without special permits. Fewer than 50 orcas are held in captivity worldwide and the bulk of them are owned by SeaWorld, a subsidiary of US private equity giant the Blackstone.

A female capable of breeding and introducing new genes into the pool of captive orcas is worth millions of euros.

Loro Parque said it would provide a home for the orca along with the five others it has.

Read more on:    spain  |  portugal  |  marine life  |  animals

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