'Suicidal' killer whale appears to beach itself at theme park

Campaigners have called for a captured killer whale to be released back into the wild after video footage showed the animal appearing to attempt "suicide" at a theme park.

Orca Morgan was filmed lying on a concrete slab at the side of the tank at SeaWorld's Loro Parque in Tenerife, after jumping from the water.

The footage, which was taken anonymously, was posted by charity the Dolphin Group and shows two minutes of the whale lying motionless by the water, though the animal was said to have been there for 10 minutes before the videographer had to leave.

It follows footage taken in April that reportedly records Morgan repeatedly banging her head into the tank's metal grate.

While we cannot explain the reason for her behavior, the juxtaposition of a previously-wild orca against the stark backdrop of the park’s performance area is unsettling, to say the least.

The Dolphin Project

Responding to the latest video, Loro Parque said Morgan's behaviour was "normal" and said the footage was "a new attempt at manipulation through exaggeration and dramatisation of a completely normal situation in which there is no problem for the animals."

“The orcas sometimes repeat the exercises the trainers are teaching them spontaneously in their free time," a park spokesman told The Telegraph. "It is play. So you can see Morgan in this case sliding out of the pool, a move she does to get onto the stage or onto the scales when she is being weighed."

Morgan was captured in shallow waters in the Netherlands in 2010 and taken to Loro Parque the following year.

The most recent footage has sparked a #FreeMorgan campaign on social media.

Orca factfile:

  • Orcas are the largest member of the dolphin family

  • They are not a threat to humans

  • Female orcas can live for up to 90 years in the wild

  • They can swim up to 30 miles an hour