PUERTO DE LA CRUZ, Spain – Morgan, a deaf orca at an animal park in Tenerife, in Spain’s Canary Islands, is in the final stages of pregnancy, her caretakers told EFE on Monday.
Javier Almunia, director of the Loro Parque Foundation in Puerto de la Cruz, said that twice-weekly ultrasound scans on the sea mammal showed the fetus was in perfect health.
“In any case, we will prepare to make sure everything is ready for any eventuality if things don’t go to plan, having everything at hand in case we need to intervene,” Almunia said, adding that Morgan could be expected to give birth at any point after the summer.
The gestation period for these formidable ocean-spanning hunters, the largest member of the dolphin family, is around 17 months and individuals usually give birth to a solitary live calf, which has a 50 percent mortality rate in the first year.
In 2010 Morgan was found beached in Wadden, the Netherlands, and eventually transported to the park in Puerto de la Cruz at the end of 2011, where she went on to perform daily shows to audiences who come to the zoological park to see its vast array of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish. Keeping killer whales in captivity is a controversial topic and the Loro Parque has not escaped the debate.
Numerous organizations have been set up calling for an end to the practice of keeping these intelligent creatures, capable of reaching speeds of 65 kilometers per hour (40 mph) at sea, captive.
In 2009, one of Loro Parque’s trainers, Alexis Martínez, was killed by an orca called Keto on Christmas Eve.
A Free Morgan Campaign has been set up to lobby for the liberation of this killer whale.