Comments by Loro Parque on the Report “Ongoing concerns regarding the SeaWorld orca held at Loro Parque, Tenerife, Spain” by Dr. Ingrid Visser & Rosina B. Lisker
In 2010, the juvenile female killer whale (Orcinus orca) named “Morgan” was rescued by marine animal health professionals at Dolfinarium, Harderwijk from shallow waters on the Dutch coast at the request of the Dutch Government. Over the course of a year with constant expert care, Morgan was rehabilitated and her health restored, and after thorough and repeated review and due diligence by the Dutch Courts, The Dutch Government determined that Morgan was non-releasable and issued a CITES permit authorizing her transfer in 2011to Loro Parque, a professionally accredited zoological park on the island of Tenerife, Spain to join five other killer whales. Upon arrival at Loro Parque, and under a comprehensive behavioural and veterinary care program, Morgan integrated rapidly and smoothly into the existing social group.
Daily work with her trainers gave rise to a suspicion of possible hearing loss that was subsequently diagnosed as a substantial hearing deficit by extensive observation and testing. This hearing deficit is most likely a contributing factor in her original stranded condition but has not in any way inhibited her interactions and integration with her new social group at Loro Parque.
Regrettably, Visser’s & Lisker’s “Ongoing concerns regarding the SeaWorld orca held at Loro Parque, Tenerife, Spain” does not accurately reflect the reality that Morgan is thriving in her definitive home. A principal of the Free Morgan Foundation, the Orca Coalition and the World Cetacean Alliance, Dr. Visser has authored a document that is both erroneous and misleading. Dr. Visser has forgone scientific convention, objectivity and accuracy, instead creating an emotionally charged and exaggerated document that uses inflammatory language to describe negative welfare conditions that do not exist.
Any proper scientific document includes a presentation of materials and methods, which explains how the researcher has done his or her work, and a detailed summary of the data upon which the researcher bases any conclusions. The Visser & Lisker report is virtually free of material, method or data but contains a large excess of conclusions. In short, Free Morgan Foundation has again produced an animal activist opinion piece, which they attempt to veil and market as scientific literature.
The document was produced by a biologist (who has never published scientific research about any veterinary aspect) and a legal advisor based in pictures taken during the short time slots when the animals were in the public presentations. Their conclusions try to challenge the professional opinion of a qualified veterinary surgeon, with the degrees of MA, VetMB from the University of Cambridge, and Fellowship of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, that holds the European Diploma in Zoological Medicine and a European and RCVS recognised Specialist in Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, who is also a Fellow of the Society for Biology and a Chartered biologist.
Hence, two authors without professional formation on veterinarian medicine (one of them not even in biological sciences), are suggesting that a doctor in veterinarian medicine that has worked in the field of marine mammal medicine for 40 years (including continuous responsibility for killer whales) is not able to evaluate correctly the health and welfare of a group of killer whales or , even worst, is maliciously hiding and manipulating information.
Below follows a point by point rebuttal of Dr Visser’s and Ms Lisker’s claims and opinions.
Visser, I. N. & Lisker, R. B. (2016). Ongoing concerns regarding the SeaWorld orca held at Loro Parque, Tenerife, Spain. Unpublished report. 67 pages. Available from www.freemorgan.org
 See e.g., Ford, J. K., Ellis, G. M., Matkin, C. O., Wetklo, M. H., Barrett-Lennard, L. G., & Withler, R. E. (2011). Shark predation and tooth wear in a population of northeastern Pacific killer whales. Aquatic Biology, 11(3), 213-224; Rica, C. (1996). A report of killer whales (Orcinus orca) feeding on a carcharhinid shark in Costa Rica. Marine Mammal Science, 12(4), 606-611.