The mental state of a young orca held captive in Holland is deteriorating rapidly, according to the Northlander trying desperately to return it to the wild.
Tutukaka orca expert Ingrid Visser has spent the past month in the Netherlands waging a campaign to free Morgan, a female orca rescued off the Dutch coast in June 2010 and thought to be at least 3 years old. It was rescued by staff of a marine mammal park about 50km east of Amsterdam, Dolfinarium Harderwijk, who nursed the orca back to health. However, a coalition of conservationists and marine scientists say the animal must now be returned to
The coalition feared a bid by the Dolfinarium to transfer Morgan to a theme park in Spain's Canary Islands earlier this month would have ended any hope of freeing Morgan.
However, a Dutch district court ruled on August 3 that Morgan could not be shipped out of the country.
The judge also ordered the Dolfinarium to move Morgan to a bigger tank.
At the time Dr Visser called it an incredible victory, but her euphoria was short-lived.
She told the Northern Advocate this week she was increasingly concerned about the orca's mental state and frustrated by the marine park's refusal to co-operate.
"The Dolfinarium Harderwijk has ignored the judge's directions and has done nothing towards moving Morgan into a larger enclosure," Dr Visser said.
"They have refused to release any of her health records, her DNA profile or her acoustical records which would help to get her back to her extended family. Her mental health has deteriorated a lot. She is now screaming so loud that it is ear-piercing and she is exhibiting stereotypical behaviours nearly 90 per cent of the time I was watching her."
Stereotypical behaviour is a term for frequently repeated actions typical of animals held in confined spaces with little to do.