Young orca Moana in bad health at Marineland in France

Orca Inouk at Marineland, photo: One Voice
Orca Inouk at Marineland, photo: One Voice

Animal welfare organization One Voice has filed an animal cruelty complaint against dolphinarium Marineland in France for the deteriorating health of the young orca Moana, who is kept in concrete tanks covered with algae.

Moana has developed wounds under his skin, One Voice said on Tuesday. The color of his skin has changed, and the dirty water is making it worse. 

One Voice has been visiting Moana for years and presented footage of the killer whale to marine biologist Ingrid Visser and Pierre Gallego, a veterinarian specializing in aquatic mammals. 

“The facility is small and in a bad state (and is deteriorating), and the poor quality of the water is worrying,” Visser said. She wants the data relating to Moana’s health, behaviour and nutrition, as well as data about the quality of the water, made accessible for independent orca experts.

“This would allow an accurate evaluation on the extent of the issues that Moana is faced with,” Visser said.

“Moana’s state of health is critical, and requires urgent treatment by a veterinarian. The pathological process which Moana seems to be a victim of is likely to put his life in danger,” Gallego said after studying new footage of the orca.

One Voice filed a complaint for acts of cruelty and requested an independent investigation and a precautionary foreclosure, which means a ban on transportation of Moana and using him in shows.

Moana, his uncle Inouk, mother Wikie, and brother Keijo swim day and night in the filthy waters of the old dolphinarium. According to One Voice, the new animal rights law that passed a week ago in France contains loopholes when it comes to dolphins and orcas.

“The law proposed that it is possible to keep orcas and dolphins in pools for research. But to study what exactly? How they suffer when they are cut off from the world? Illness among captive individuals? How to develop various diseases by imprisoning them?” One Voice said.

Moana is the first orca who was born by artificial insemination in Europe. Worldwide there are only a few orcas born by artificial insemination. 

Moana’s mother is Wikie, and his father is Ulises, a wild orca captured in Iceland and held captive at SeaWorld in San Diego in the United States.

His whole life, Moana has only lived in a tank forced to entertain humans; he has never been in open sea. His trainers say he’s smart because he could do forced movements (tricks) when he was only one year old.

One Voice said that the orcas at Marineland develop mental and physical illnesses from living in an environment that is too small and completely artificial, without any entertainment and surrounded by poor quality of water.

“Our priority mission is to ensure the health and well-being of animals. We thus carry out this mission every day of the year with professionalism and passion,” Marineland responded on social media a day after One Voice announced their complaint against the park.

They shared a video, made the same day according to Marineland, of Moana in the pool with a trainer. “The territory of a pod of killer whales varies from 1,300 km to 810 km, not in your pathetic basins,” user Bil.o.c. responded on Instagram.

“A little realism on the part of the parks wouldn’t hurt. Accept the fact that it is wrong to have such animals in your ponds rather than thinking about your money,” Laurie responded to the post.

In the documentary Inside the Tanks, British documentary maker Jonny Meah filmed the life of animals at Marineland: 

The Animal Reader is a small, independent news platform with daily posts about issues affecting animals.

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