ANIMAL activists are devastated after footage was released of a captive killer whale deliberately beaching itself.
The whale, named Morgan, can be seen launching herself onto a concrete slab after a show at Tenerife’s Loro Parque.
Morgan, who lives at the park with five other orcas owned by SeaWorld, is then seen laying motionless for more than ten minutes.
Visitors didn’t seem to notice the orca in distress, while some even stopped to take selfies with her.
A statement from the park said: “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.
“Voluntary stranding is a natural behavior in wild orcas.”
The statement continued:”The orcas at Loro Parque are trained to leave the water on their own accord. This behavior is used for manifold purposes, for example, for presenting the animals to the public, for conducting corporal check-ups, for inspecting their blowholes, as well as for testing hearing abilities of the orcas.
“During their free time, sometimes animals get on stage, even go sliding from side to side. This is done quite naturally, often associated with game dynamics.
“Pretending that’s a stress test shows an enormous ignorance about the behavior of these animals.”
Orca’s have been known to beach themselves temporarily on the beach while hunting, but they usually remain constantly in motion, even swimming while asleep.
There is a risk that the weight of their bodies can crush their internal organs when on land.
The Dolphin Project said while it could not explain the reason for her behaviour, “the juxtaposition of a previously-wild orca against the stark backdrop of the park’s performance area is unsettling”.
The project’s Ric and Helene Hesselager O’Barry have both investigated the park, they said: “We were shocked at the poor living conditions and commercial exploitation of the orcas and bottlenose dolphins there.”
The video has renewed calls for orcas to be returned to the wild, with #FREEMORGAN trending on Twitter.
Female orcas live on average up to 80 years in the wild, but only up to nine in captivity.