Morgan’s Calf Named! Together with mother again

January 13, 2019


On Sunday, December 3, 2017, this newspaper EL  DÍA offered through El Cotarro , in scoop and exclusive, the great news that the already popular and beloved orca Morgan  del Loro Parque, was pregnant (4 months). And we said that the tireless Wolfgang Kiessling,  founder and president of the Loro Parque Group, ordered the development of a super special protocol and operative, to properly and specifically attend to what would be a “first-time mother”. From the first moment and during the 17 months! that the pregnancy has lasted, the own Wolfgang Kiessling , along with the doctor in Sciences of the Sea and director of Loro Park Foundation, Javier Almunia, they were waiting for Morgan until September 22, 2018, the day on which a wonderful orca baby was born that, over time, has been known to be a female and that today, also in scoop and exclusive, I can announce It will be called Ula , a name of Celtic origin that means “jewel of the sea”. Remember that Morgan , was rescued after being found dying on the coast of the Wadden Sea (Holland) and that Loro Parque welcomed her at the request of the Dutch Justice. Today Morgan  and Ula  are from Tenerife and live happily in Loro Parque.

Source: Elcotarro.com

Loro Parque not planning to reunite Morgan with her calf any time soon

December 28, 2018

Yesterday Loro Parque announced several research projects it had in the works involving Morgan’s recent female calf. The calf was removed from Morgan’s care after only a few days citing that Morgan “wasn’t producing enough milk.” The calf has been hand reared in the medical pool ever since, and apparently Morgan is being kept in an adjacent tank.

I would have assumed that the calf would be returned to Morgan at the earliest opportunity. Once the calf is coming over for regular bottle feedings and it’s physical health and development were going well the next priority should be to return the calf to Morgan so that its social development can catch up.

Killer whales, like humans, are essentially a blank slate when they are born. Very little about their behavior seems to be instinctive. This is proven by the fact that so far all orca population in the wild seems to have it’s own culture. They not only have their own unique dialects of sound but also their own unique way of feeding and socializing. Resident killer whales in the Pacific North West have strict social hierarchies with individuals never leaving their mother’s pod until the day the matriarch dies. These orca feed only on fish, primarily salmon. Transient whales that share part of their range with the residents feed on marine mammals such as seals, dolphins, and large whales. Transient social structure seems more flexible with individuals seeming to leave their family unites after a certain point. While still another population in New Zealand seems to have their own unique cultural characteristics such as feeding on both fish and marine mammals. There is nothing to explain this difference other than culture, a learned set of behaviors passed down from generation through generation.

In Loro Parque’s blog post they states the following with regard to the development of killer whale echolocation:

There is not much information on whether it is a behaviour that cetaceans learn or if it is innate, nor is there data on the moment in which it appears in their development,

On the surface their plans seem like a great idea. We have this chance to study orca development, why not use it to full advantage? HOWEVER in order to set up an experiment to test if the behavior of echolocation arises on its own through innate instinct you have to control any and all variables for the behavior to appear through social learning. Therefore the Morgan’s female calf HAS to be kept in isolation in order for this experiment to be conducted. Loro Parque has just made it clear that it has no plans to reunite Morgan with her daughter any time soon.

Loro Parque contributes to research on the echolocation of orcas

December 27, 2018

Loro Parque, in its continuous commitment to scientific research, has recently begun to collaborate in research on the echolocation of orcas, a key sense that favours their orientation and the location of prey for hunting.  There is not much information on whether it is a behaviour that cetaceans learn or if it is innate, nor is there data on the moment in which it appears in their development, so that the zoo, recognised as the best in the world, will contribute to providing information on a feature that is vital to their survival.

Loro Parque is working with the University of Southern Denmark in a study with Morgan’s calf in order to try and establish when echolocation begins in the young orcas.  The first experiments have already begun.

Echolocation is the location of an object through the reflection of sound waves, used by animal species such as bats and cetaceans and in sonar systems.

In both bats and dolphins, echolocation skills have been studied for decades, and although there is a deep understanding of their capabilities and use, it is not clear how it develops.  In the case of dolphins, recordings under animals in human care indicate that echolocation may develop after about three to four weeks, although other studies indicate that it may take much longer.

About young orcas, however, there is no information whatsoever, and some knowledge would help to better understand and protect these animals with more reliable risk-assessments on the impact of marine noise, its possible consequences, and even age estimates, based on sound recordings.  Thus, by recording the calf periodically, one can begin to understand the development of its echolocation capacity – when it begins and how this sense evolves until it matches that of an adult orca.

Source: Loro Parque Blog

Update: Morgan’s Calf

October 15, 2018

Announcement from Loro Parque: 

We are pleased to report that Morgan’s calf is continuing to gain weight and is growing stronger every day. Morgan’s milk production has been lower than what is required to meet the young calf’s nutritional needs, so it has been necessary to introduce regular bottle feeding. That decision is already showing positive results and the team of experts who are monitoring the calf around the clock are encouraged by its physical and mental progress as the young orca swims and plays.

While we would rather see Morgan able to breastfeed, the health and wellbeing of the calf are the top priority. In the wild, orca calves do not survive if their mothers are unable to produce enough milk.

Fortunately – thanks to our world-leading facilities, vets, and consultants – we can provide the calf with a specialized and nutritious formula consisting of milk, blended fish, and other essential vitamins and ingredients that are combined with the milk Morgan is able to produce. The formula has been developed by marine mammal veterinarians and animal nutritionists and it is clear that the calf is feeling the benefits.

In the interests of safety for mother, calf, and the experts assisting them, while bottle feeding takes place the pair are currently in different pools immediately adjacent to one another. Both mother and calf show signs they are relaxed and comfortable while this period of bottle feeding takes place.We offer our heartfelt thanks once again for the continued messages of support. The team will continue to provide updates as and when we have new information.

Update: Morgan’s calf – separated again?

October 1, 2018

Update from the Loro Parque Blog: 

It’s now just over a week since Morgan gave birth and the entire team of carers, veterinarians, and international experts who have been monitoring the situation are delighted with the calf’s progress. The primary focus continues to be ensuring that the calf is getting all the nourishment it needs and the team has been concerned that Morgan’s milk production has been lower than required.

While natural breastfeeding is always the preferred option, nothing is more important than the wellbeing of the animals in our care – so the veterinary team has stepped in to assist at times by temporarily bottle feeding the calf.

Despite continuous attempts to help Morgan feed naturally, her milk production remains low. As a result, the only option has been to move the calf over to regular bottle feeds. Thanks to Loro Parque’s world-leading facilities and the help of the world’s top experts, we are able add the small amount of milk that Morgan is producing daily to the bottled formula feed, which is provided in a special dedicated medical pool. Using Morgan’s milk helps enrich each meal the calf receives and provides the vital antibodies that aid the development of its immune system.

Despite the challenges in breastfeeding, the bond between mother and calf continues to grow and Morgan is demonstrating exemplary maternal instincts as she swims alongside her calf at all times they are together.

We know from the many messages of support we continue to receive that many of you are closely following this news, so we will keep providing updates as and when we have new information.

  • The post seems to indicate that while Morgan’s calf has been back on bottle feedings in the med pool that she is also being allowed time with Morgan? However no images have surfaced yet of Morgan and her calf together since the time of the birth. The only images I have found are of the calf being bottle feed alone in the med pool. – As close as mothers and calves are for the first several months following birth it seems doubt that the two have been placed back together, otherwise Morgan would have likely entered the med pool with her daughter during feedings.
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Morgan and her calf have been reunited

September 27, 2018

Announcement from the Loro Parque Blog:

Nothing matters more to us than the health and wellbeing of the animals in our care. As we updated earlier this week, a team of veterinarians and external consultants has been monitoring the progress of Morgan and her calf around the clock since birth.

The primary focus during these crucial first days has been ensuring the calf is getting all the nourishment it needs. While natural breastfeeding is always the preferred option, Morgan’s milk production has been below what is needed in these first few days. Therefore, the veterinary team has assisted by temporarily bottle feeding the calf while giving Morgan the chance to increase her milk supply.

We are glad to say that mother and calf have now resumed natural breastfeeding and the experts are pleased with the strong bond the pair have developed. With the help of our state-of-the-art facilities and assistance from world-leading experts, the team continues to closely observe the situation to ensure that Morgan and her baby establish a good, healthy and natural feeding routine. However, we are, of course, ready to step in to help if there is the slightest concern that the calf’s nutritional needs are not being met.

We wish to thank everyone who has been in contact with us in these past few days and have been touched by the many messages of support. We will keep you posted with all the latest information as things unfold.

Update on Morgan and her calf

September 24, 2018

From Loro Parque Blog

The first days in the life of a cetacean are critical and we have all been encouraged by Morgan’s strong maternal instincts and the way she is nurturing and taking care of her calf. Establishing breastfeeding is crucial in this early phase and our team of veterinarians and external consultants are closely monitoring both mother and calf to see that this happens. Over the first 24 hours Morgan’s milk production has been lower than we would like, meaning it may be necessary to introduce bottle feeding to ensure that the calf is getting the nourishment it needs. We sincerely hope that nature can take its course and that Morgan can feed her calf independently. However, we are watching the situation carefully and will assist with bottle feeding, if the experts consider that the life of the calf is at risk.

We wish to take this opportunity to say thank you for all the kind messages we have received from all over the world as we celebrate the birth of Morgan’s calf. We will continue to provide updates as they enjoy their first days together.

VIDEO of Loro Parque explaining the situation to guests

Morgan gave birth to her calf at Loro Parque (with vid)

September 22, 2017

Birth announcement was posted on Loro Parque’s blog.

Loro Parque has good news to share: the orca Morgan that was rescued after being found near dead near the coast of the Wadden Sea in the Netherlands and that forms part of our group of orcas, gave birth to her first calf this morning, which finds itself in a perfect state of health. From the very first moment, Morgan demonstrated to be an exemplary mother attending to her newborn, which is swimming next to its mother in the installations of the ‘OrcaOcean’.

The orca Morgan was rescued at the coast of the Wadden Sea in 2010 and was attended by a team of experts of the Harderwijk Dolphinarium in an effort to help the lost animal, which showed such a severe malnutrition that the animal was only skin and bones. In this moment, Morgan only weighed 430 Kg and the keepers of the Dutch dolphinarium were not sure that the animal was going to survive the first night after its rescue. They, however, were hopeful that with a proper level of care, affection and attention of the care givers, as well as with the adequate nutrition, the animal could make a recovery.

Thanks to all these efforts of the team at Harderwijk, the animal began to recover its weight and strength, and as the Harderwijk installations were not prepared to keep orcas, the Dutch authorities initiated a formal commission to determine the future of the orca Morgan. A group of international and independent experts came to the conclusion that there were only two viable alternatives for the animal: euthanasia or to be kept at an installation of an aquarium that complied with the necessary conditions for this animal species.

At this moment, as Loro Parque had the most modern installations for orcas in existence, the Park was contacted to see if it would accept the animal. Despite all the challenges that this request represented, Loro Parque accepted the petition, thus, avoiding the only other alternative that was left for the animal: the euthanasia.

After a few months at our installations, the orca Morgan adapted to the new conditions and integrated perfectly into the existing group of orcas at Loro Parque. At the same time, it was discovered that the orca suffered a severe hearing deficiency, which was yet another argument to confirm that animal was incapable to survive on her own in nature.

Given this last circumstance, there were a number of questions as to what exactly a delivery would imply for the animal without a hearing capacity. Today, Loro Parque would like to share the great news: the delivery went in a completely normal manner and the first hours after the birth have been developing in accordance with the best expectations.

It is impossible to know the gender of the new calf yet, although the most important issue now is that both, the mother and the calf, find themselves in a perfect state of health. Loro Parque will be informing the public about the development of the situation, and would like to take this opportunity to thank all its visitors from many different parts of the world, the tour operators and all the collaborators in the scientific field for all the support to the Loro Parque mission: to protect and conserve animals and their natural habitats for future generations.

  • First VIDEO of Morgan and her calf can be found HERE. The calf seems to be having trouble finding the right spot to nurse from, she’s too high on Morgan’s body. 

Loro Parque Foundation collaborates in a study about the impact of toxic substances on the immune system in orcas

February 6, 2018

A recent study carried out in collaboration with Loro Parque Foundation concluded that contaminants, such as DDT, PCBs and persistent organic pollutants, accumulated in the seas generate together a toxic cocktail that affects the immune system of orcas to a greater extent than if the animals were exposed to the same amount of each substance separately.

The project supported by Loro Parque Foundation in 2017 aimed at investigating how toxic pollutants in the seas specifically affect the immune system of orcas. Dr. Javier Almunia, Director of Environmental Affairs of Loro Parque Foundation, explains that the novelty of this study lies in the fact that the toxic components were measured combined, which is how they are found in nature, and not individually. 

The components were selected due to the frequency of their detection in the corpses of the stranded animals in Antarctica. The scientists from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, then implemented the analysis. The study was conducted in a laboratory with the blood extractions, about half a liter each, that were taken from the orcas in the installations of OrcaOcean in Loro Parque. The blood samples were processed to separate the blood cells responsible for the immune system which were subjected to an in vitro test and then exposed to the toxic cocktail.

Dr. Almunia explains that the scientific community has knowledge about how each of these components, for example DDT, affects the immune system of orcas but there is not a lot of research done to analyze the effect produced by a combination of different toxic components. The study concludes that the combined impact is greater, i.e., various of these substances together can cause a major pathogenic effect than each individual component in a similar concentration.

The toxic agents, when combined, start to produce an effect on the immune response capacity in orcas faster than expected. It is also possible that these pollutants influence the reproductive system of the animals, as some of them are similar to hormones in structure. In fact, there is a group of resident orcas in Scotland that has not bred for years, and it is suspected that this has to do with pollution. A toxicology analysis on a female orca stranded recently showed a very high concentration of persistent organic pollutants.

As its greatest impact, this toxic cocktail can shorten the life of the animals as their immune systems are forced to fight constantly against the pathogens, which is something that has already been seen previously in dolphins. Dr. Almunia emphasizes that obviously, “it is difficult to demonstrate that pollution was a direct cause of the death of an animal as, logically, an animal dies eventually as a result of a pathology, an infection, a tumor or a parasite infestation.”

The question that the expert of Loro Parque Foundation raises is how much easier it is for a pathogen to affect the health of an animal whose immune system is depressed. Further extensive studies are needed to answer that, and that is why Loro Parque Foundation is working together with the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, to identify and analyze the concentration of toxic substances in animals stranded in the Canary Islands.

Up until now, the toxicology has focused on studying each single compound, and this study supported by Loro Parque Foundation helps to bring forth a different perspective which can determine whether toxic compounds, once accumulated in an organism, interact in any particular way among themselves causing, as a result, a greater impact on the immune system in animals.

As far as the regulation and control of these toxic substances is concerned, Dr. Javier Almunia comments that the results of this study are published in the Environmental Science & Technologymagazine and are, therefore, available to the scientific community. The next step would be to deliver this information to the political level for the appropriate decisions to be made to address the matter.

Source: EIN News.com

Tenerife marine park loses court battle over orca welfare

November 13, 2017

Tenerife’s Loro Parque has lost a defamation battle against an animal rights charity over treatment of orcas at the marine park.

A Spanish court has thrown out a defamation lawsuit bought against PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – in which Loro Parque sought €100,000 in damages.

The case was brought after PETA published photographs in 2015 showing the killer whales covered with scars and wounds, which it said had come from the animals being kept in too close proximity to each other.

Other images showed severe dental trauma, which PETA says captive orcas typically develop from gnawing on tank gates and walls. Another (above) showed an orca with a collapsed dorsal fin, which PETA says is the result of having inadequate space to swim and dive.

Dismissing the case, the judge ruled that PETA’s views, which are based on expert analysis and research, were protected under Spanish laws on freedom of expression. The judge ordered Loro Parque to pay undisclosed legal fees.

“To say that orcas are suffering in Loro Parque’s dismal tanks is accurate, not defamatory,” said PETA director Elisa Allen. “PETA is calling on the marine park to stop trying to conceal these animals’ suffering and start moving them to coastal sanctuaries.”

This year, France and California announced bans on orca breeding and countries such as Chile, Costa Rica, and Croatia have banned keeping cetaceans in captivity, while others – including Brazil, India, Nicaragua, and Norway – have highly restrictive standards that make the practice nearly impossible.

The last dolphinarium in the UK closed more than 20 years ago, but many tour operators are still selling tickets to overseas marine parks.

Source: ttg media.com