Wildlife protection has become one of the hottest debates recently.
As the world continues to mourn the tragic death of Ohio zoo gorilla Harambe, a dramatic footage featuring a captive SeaWorld killer whale has prompted scores to call for the release of the mammal back into the wild.
The recently emerged video, captured by a tourist visiting the Loro Parque zoo in Tenerife, Spain, shows an orca lying motionless on the concrete slab right next to its pool. Eyewitnesses claim the whale, named Morgan, was trying to commit suicide. Reports suggest the mammal beached itself for over 10 minutes.
Morgan is one of five orcas owned by SeaWorld that live at the zoo. The incident occurred right after it finished performing at a show.
What makes the incident even more distressing is that this is not the first time the orca has attempted something of the sort. Just weeks earlier, Morgan was filmed banging its head against a metal gate.
“While we cannot explain the reason for her behavior, the juxtaposition of a previously wild orca against the stark backdrop of the park’s performance area is unsettling, to say the least,” said animal rights organization the Dolphin Project. “Some people took selfies with Morgan in the background. Sadly, Morgan was still out of the water by the time the videographers had to leave.”
Meanwhile, the zoo claimed the bizarre incident was nothing out of ordinary.
“The video published by the Dolphin Project on its website is a new attempt at manipulation through exaggeration and dramatization of a completely normal situation in which there is no problem for the animals,” Loro Parque said in a statement.
The tourist park has a controversial history with its killer whales.
“Every single orca that I observed had significant wearing on their teeth, specifically on the lower mandible,” Heather Rally, a wildlife veterinarian with PETA, told Daily Mail. “They start chewing on their tanks. There's boredom there as a factor, and there's also stress... As soon as they start doing that they start to traumatize their teeth.”
Along with Loro Parque, SeaWorld has also come under intense scrutiny for its treatment of orcas in captivity.