Court hearing in Amsterdam on fate of killer whale

AP News

11/7/2011 1:52:56 PM - AP News

Animal rights activists made a last ditch appeal Monday to an Amsterdam court to release a 4-year-old killer whale back into the wild rather than let her be sent to a Spanish marine park.

Morgan was rescued last year from the Wadden Sea off the northern Dutch coast, ailing and emaciated. The Dutch dolphinarium that nursed her back to health now wants to transfer the orca to an amusement park on the Spanish island of Tenerife, arguing she would likely not survive in the wild.

Dutch Agriculture Minister Henk Bleker last month agreed, saying sending Morgan to the Loro Parque, which has one of the world's largest tanks for captured orcas, was "the least bad solution."

Experts summoned by the dolphinarium say Morgan is likely to die if she is released and unable to find her original pod, or family.

Marine scientists siding with conservationists fighting for Morgan's freedom, say the whale's chances are good of integrating into another pod.

"She was taken out of the water to be rehabilitated and released. This has to be tried," said Barbara van Genne, a spokeswoman for conservationists calling themselves the Free Morgan Foundation.

Van Genne said four of seven scientists who originally backed the dolphinarium's export plan now support Morgan's release.

The court will deliver a written ruling in two weeks.