Orcas on Loan From SeaWorld Found Scarred and Listless at Loro Parque

PETA Calls On Spanish Authorities to Investigate, Act to Close ‘Orca Prison Tourist Trap’

For Immediate Release:
August 24, 2015

David Perle 202-483-7382

Tenerife, Spain

Marine park Loro Parque is under fire after images emerged of the orcas held captive there—currently on indefinite loan from SeaWorld—which show that they suffer from rake marks on their bodies and other health issues. The images were taken in March 2015 and show many of the orcas covered with scars and wounds—indicating inter-animal aggression and possibly unsafe enclosures—along with severe dental trauma, which captive orcas typically develop from gnawing on tank walls. Orcas at the park were also spotted with mucus around their eyes. A PETA Foundation veterinarian says that the mucus is “likely a physical response to the irritants found in the aquarium water.” In addition, witnesses saw the orcas floating listlessly in the water, a sign of psychological distress. In response, PETA is calling on the Servicio de Protección de la Naturaleza (the Nature Protection Service) to launch an investigation of the facility.

“SeaWorld and Loro Parque have failed to take action to correct the orcas’ health problems that have been extensively documented by leading orca expert Dr. Ingrid Visser going back at least four years,” says PETA Foundation Director of Animal Law Jared Goodman. “Although it’s difficult to get Spanish authorities to act on cruelty-to-animals matters, PETA is urging them to close this hideous tourist trap that causes animals to suffer.”

The images included the orca Morgan, an underweight orca captured in 2010. Morgan was taken from the wild under the condition that she would be returned to her ocean home when she recovered—but instead she was kept in captivity, put on display only a few weeks later, and then transferred to Loro Parque, where she is forced to perform and has been attacked by the other orcas she shares her tiny tank with. PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—points out that the constant stress of confinement takes a heavy toll on the orcas, who exhibit abnormal behavior and often die at much younger ages than their counterparts in nature. For instance, a 10-month-old calf named Vicky recently died at Loro Parque. And their frustration can be fatal to humans: Keto the orca killed trainer Alexis Martinez in 2009, just two months before Dawn Brancheau was killed by Tilikum at SeaWorld Orlando in Florida. It was the third time that Tilikum had killed a human.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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