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With 12 parks across the US, SeaWorld has faced intense criticism over the alleged mistreatment of its captive killer whales.

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Recently, a captive killer whale named Morgan appeared to be attempting to commit suicide by taking herself out of the water and laying motionless on a concrete slab—a move associated with whale suicide.

Onlookers appeared shocked as they observed Morgan beaching herself during a show at Tenerife’s Loro Parque on May 16th. The killer whale lay there for at least 10 minute before they had to leave the theatre. The footage of the incident shows Morgan moving slightly in the video, but she does not appear to try to get back in the water.

While killer whales occasionally come ashore to hunt, they rarely spend a prolonged amount of time out of the water since their body weight can crush their internal organs. Even when they sleep, they must keep themselves moving in the water to maintain life.

Just weeks before this incident, a video emerged of Morgan banging her head against a metal gate in what seemed an attempt to escape her enclosure.

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“The orca is obviously in huge distress and rams its head forcefully against the metal gate in what seems to be an attempt to escape,” explained Helene Hesselager O’Barry of the Dolphin Project, which is working to expose the grave conditions of the park, including exploitation of their orcas and bottlenose dolphins.
The six orcas in question at the park all belong to SeaWorld. Discovered in unhealthy condition off the coast of the Netherlands in 2010, Morgan spent a year in an undersized pool before being transferred to Loro Parque.

Though her permit says she was only supposed to be rescued, rehabilitated, and released, she is used as part of a show at Loro Parque. Morgan is also the only orca that was born in the wild, and the campaigners reveal she is bullied by the other captive orcas.

Loro Parque, angered by the accusations, hit back with a statement saying the campaigners were attempting “manipulation through exaggeration and dramatization of a completely normal situation in which there is no problem for the animals.” They also claimed Morgan was an extremely active and energetic whale, and that some of her erratic behavior may be a result of her possibly being deaf and using the concrete to receive vibrations as a replacement for sound.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) director of animal law Jared Goodman released a statement in regards to the suspected suicide, saying “Morgan was captured from the sea six years ago and has been fighting hard against the trials of her captivity ever since. Her behavior shows that she is frantic to get back to the ocean home that she remembers and misses.” He says that she is merely “on loan” at Loro Parque, and that they are treating her as a “possession and used for profit.”

He goes on to say, “She has been attacked by incompatible orcas dozens of times a day, has smashed her head into a gate over and over again, and has now beached herself in absolute desperation. SeaWorld needs to release this suffering orca and the others it holds captive to a seaside sanctuary now.”

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