North Las Vegas School Receives PETA Award for Trying to Free Captive Orca

Morgan, Who Was Supposed to Be Treated and Returned to Her Pod, Is Locked in a Small Tank, Abused, and Forced to Perform Tricks for Food

For Immediate Release:
November 27, 2013

Allison Lakomski 202-483-7382

North Las Vegas, Nev.

For creating a video and sending more than 100 letters in an effort to reunite a young female orca named Morgan with her family in the open sea, Tom Williams Elementary School in North Las Vegas will receive a Compassionate Action Award from TeachKind, PETA’s humane-education division. The school will receive a framed certificate. Morgan, who is owned by SeaWorld, was found in an emaciated state off the coast of the Netherlands in June 2010. Although she was supposed to be treated and released back to her family in November 2011, the Dutch government allowed her to be shipped to Loro Parque on the Spanish island of Tenerife. She’s being kept in a tiny barren tank and is continually under attack by larger orcas. Morgan’s fate will be determined at a hearing in the Netherlands on December 3.

“Morgan’s original captors betrayed her by directly violating their own stated intention to reunite her with her family and have instead relegated her to a life of virtual slavery,” says PETA Director of Youth Outreach and Campaigns Marta Holmberg. “Even the first-grade students at Tom Williams Elementary School know that Morgan is a candidate for release back to her family, but her present captors would rather make money off her than free her.”

The dolphinarium where Morgan had been kept in the Netherlands publicly renounced the option to release her in December 2010, based on the advice of seven individuals who were given incomplete and inaccurate information. After being presented with the complete story, four of the seven found that she was a suitable candidate for rehabilitation and potential release. As a result of chewing on solid objects because of severe stress, Morgan’s front teeth are worn down to the gums, and she has banged her head against the tank so often that she has worn away the skin and exposed raw flesh. Morgan is featured in the critically acclaimed documentary Blackfish, which debuted on CNN in October. Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, the orca who was captured 30 years ago and who killed SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau—his third human victim—in 2010. In the wild, orcas swim up to 100 miles every day and work cooperatively to find food in tightly knit groups using unique dialects.

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