Captive Killer Whale, Morgan, Gets Legal Representation

A coalition of Dutch animal rights groups has retained the services of an attorney to represent “Morgan”, a young killer whale captured in the Wadden Sea, off the north coast of The Netherlands in June, 2010.
Feb. 11, 2011 - PRLog -- Morgan, a young female orca (killer whale), captured in the Wadden Sea, off the north coast of the Netherlands on June 23, 2010 now has her own attorney.

Following her “rescue” in waters where orcas are rarely seen, and apparently separated from her pod, Morgan was taken to the Harderwijk Dolfinarium in the Netherlands. After two weeks of rehabilitation, being fed and given antibiotics, the Dolphinarium announced that she was in good health. However, with the influx of attention and money that Morgan’s public display has brought to the Dolphinarium, her future and her hopes of freedom have been dwindling.

In early December, the Harderwijk Dolfinarium, in conjunction with a board of seven “questionably independent” experts, announced that Morgan should not be returned to the wild. This decision came despite the Dolphinarium’s receipt of a detailed, multi-stage release plan developed by The Free Morgan Group which is comprised of a wide range of experts who have not only extensive experience with wild orca, but also to varying degrees, experience with the release of captive cetaceans. The Free Morgan Group’s plan can be seen here:  However, this plan was essentially ignored by the members of the Dolphinarium’s advisory board and was not given consideration, or even mentioned in the Dolphinarium’s report that Morgan is not a suitable candidate for release.

This move by the Harderwijk Dolfinarium has prompted a coalition of Dutch animal rights groups, the Orca Coalition (Orka Coalitie), to retain the services of an attorney to represent Morgan. Their goal is to challenge the Dutch Ministry to consider the release plan introduced by the Free Morgan Group and question the validity of the Dolphinarium’s report that would doom Morgan to a life in captivity.

From the Orca Coalition:

Amsterdam February 11, 2011 - The Orca Coalition has engaged a lawyer to move the (Dutch) Ministry to accept a “second opinion” about the future of orca Morgan. After more than seven months she is still being held in a small tank in the Dolphinarium Harderwijk. The Orca Coalition’s first demand is to transfer Morgan to a specially designed enclosure in Deltapark Neeltje Jans in The Netherlands as soon as possible. This is a more natural environment and she will have more space. She will be permanently under expert supervision to begin the first steps to rehabilitation.

More than 40 independent international orca experts united in the Free Morgan Group, and presented a rehabilitation plan to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation in the Netherlands last year. However, this plan was ignored while a report presented by the Dolphinarium recommending Morgan to remain in captivity, was adopted by the Ministry without any review. In the Dolphinarium’s report, seven “independent” experts advised against the release of Morgan. The Orca Coalition challenges both the independence and expertise of these individuals. Doubts cast on their independence and expertise are based on advice being solicited from an orca trainer, a SeaWorld veterinarian, a seabird expert, and someone who has been working closely with the Dolphinarium for years.

The lawyer engaged by the Orca Coalition, Mr. Wijngaarden from the law firm Böhler in Amsterdam, has started legal proceedings on behalf of the Orca Coalition. Relevant information about the orca must not be withheld by the Dolphinarium any longer and must be released. Furthermore, a second opinion in the form of the Coalition’s plan must be accepted by the Ministry for consideration. The Orca Coalition is of the opinion that adherence to international laws and regulations governing cetacean species will result in the eventual release of Morgan.

“The orca is entitled to a fair chance to regain her freedom. The Ministry should not accept the advice from the Dolphinarium without an independent review”, states Mr. M.F. Wijngaarden, lawyer for the Orca Coalition.

The Orca Coalition has received many pledges of support from various sources. Members of the public who wish to help fund this legal action may do so through the website:

The Orca Coalition is a collaboration between a number of Dutch animal and conservation organisations: Sea First Foundation, PINK!, Dolphinmotion, Een Dier Een Vriend (EDEV – an animal a friend), Bite Back, The Black Fish and Four Paws.

For more on Morgan’s capture, her current status, plans developed by an expert panel to reintroduce her to the wild, important links… and what you can do to help, please visit:

For the latest orca updates, additional content, links to related documents, news, information and stories, visit

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The Orca Project is a non-profit organization where ideas, news and information are shared to raise awareness about Killer Whales in captivity, their exploitation by Marine Mammal Parks and the freedom of their wild counterparts around the world.
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Page Updated Last on: Feb 11, 2011
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