Miranda Theunissen first ‘met’ Morgan five years ago in the Dolphinarium at Harderwijk Zoo shortly after the whale was rescued in a shallow area off the Wadden Sea coast in Holland. From the first time Miranda, who is deaf and dumb with severe vision problems, saw Morgan she formed a special attachment to her and that was the beginning of a unique relationship. Altogether Miranda visited Morgan 88 times during her stay in the Dutch dolphinarium, spending many hours in the company of this spectacular animal with whom she has developed such a deep friendship.
In July 2011, Miranda learned of the decision of the Government of the Netherlands to relocate Morgan to Loro Parque, after identifying the zoo as an ideal place for Morgan to be integrated into a social group of orcas, having an optimum degree in management and care for an animal of this species, and with objectives of education and awareness. Miranda says that she felt immediately very happy for Morgan, but also a little sad for not being able to be so close to her great friend anymore. Shortly afterwards Miranda began travelling to Tenerife with the purpose of visiting Morgan and this year she returned to Loro Parque for the third consecutive year.
Loro Parque organized a special visit with the Discovery Tour for Miranda so that she could take advantage of and fully enjoy her visit to Loro Parque and spend some time with Morgan. Miranda commented that she sees Morgan very happy with the other orcas in Loro Parque and that she will surely come back to visit Morgan every year, as long as her health, especially her sight, allows her.
For the first time a chinstrap penguin chick was born at Loro Parque, a species that owes its name to the thin black line that runs from ear to ear under the chin. This birth is considered a real success as it is a very delicate penguin and it is quite a challenge to breed this species in a zoo.
Isidoro, named after Saint Isidoro, weighed 77 grams at birth after an incubation phase of 38 days. The diet the penguin chick is receiving consists on formula made with blended fish, very liquid during the first weeks and thicker as the chick grows bigger. To guarantee a balanced diet, different kind of fish is used in the formula that is given to the chick every three hours.
During approximately two months, the penguin chick will be hand bred in the Baby Station at the penguinarium, breeding station where visitors will be able to see it and where it will receive all the care necessary during this first stage. After this period, the integration process begins, where the penguin chick will start adapting to its new environment until fully integrating with the rest of the penguins at Loro Parque. Chinstrap penguins are a species that live in waters near the Antarctic; they are medium size (46 – 61 cm) and weigh between 5 and eight kilos. They are able to dive up to 70 metres deep.
A prosperous new year is expected in the penguinarium of Loro Parque as rockhopper and gentoo penguin chicks were also born, reaching 14 chicks in total that will join the large penguin family visible at Planet Penguin, exhibition that recreates the Antarctic habitat.
The birth of new chicks is a good indicator of animal wellbeing as it guarantees that the animal’s necessities are covered and that they reproduce normally. At Loro Parque every detail is considered as not only their natural habitat is recreated, with 12 tons of snow generated to fall into the area, but also the light cycles of the Antarctic are respected, recreating at this time the polar spring, when they enjoy plenty of light and longer days.
Just accepted for publication in Ibis, the international journal for avian scence, is the following article “Trade and habitat change virtually eliminate the Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus from Ghana” by Nathaniel Annorbah, Nigel Collar and Stuart Marsden of Manchester Metropolitan University and BirdLife International. The research in Ghana which resulted in the article was financed by Loro Parque Fundación. It finds that Ghana has lost 90–99% of its Grey Parrots since 1992, a time when the population had presumably already been seriously reduced by two decades of extremely heavy trade. There is no evidence that, away from one or two localities, declines are less severe anywhere else within the West African range of P. erithacus, or across the entire range of the recently split Timneh Parrot Psittacus timneh. As a logical response, in 2016 the Loro Parque Fundación will fund A Rocha Ghana, a leading conservation organization in that country, to take actions to prevent illegal trade and protect forest. Dr. Collar is a member of the international advisory board of the Loro Parque Fundación.