Halloween 2016

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Today we are celebrating Halloween with a very special present for the animals who live in Loro Parque: their favorite food in eye-catching and intriguing pumpkins, which surprise both the park inhabitants and the visitors. This tasty decor has been placed in our exhibitions of the titi monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees and meerkats, where the animals are being surprised with a feast while carefully discovering the carved figures in each pumpkin. With this type of activities, the keepers of the park broaden the specific environmental enrichment programs for each species in a playful way, as usual.

Although Halloween is from the Celtic culture, it is celebrated throughout the Anglo-Saxos countries and, recently, in other countries like Spain. We have decided to share this special day with the visitors, so they can discover the behavior of the animals with this experience that gives them new sensory stimuli. An opportunity to enjoy the best Halloween at the Embassy of the Wild Animals with no “trick or treat”.

The campaign of lies from PETA attacking against Loro Parque unmasked

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A few days ago, PETA’s Vegan blog published an article about dolphin Annessa, with the aim of convincing people that they should support Morgan’s release. They used the example of dolphin Annessa trying to demonstrate that those dolphins that are born under human care can be reintroduced into their natural habitat. They say that Annessa was seen all the time and that she is supposed to be 36 years old. We are moved by how facts are distorted, since that information reported by a girl named Tanja (supposedly Dr. Tanja Breining) does not correspond to the truth.

Since Annessa, who was born in the USA at the Dolphin Research Centre in Florida, was thrown into the sea by a storm, she only was seen once after her disappearance, a few days after the incident. Since then, there is no trace of her. Nobody has been able to prove that someone has seen her or that she lived longer. It is nonsense that PETA claims exactly the opposite, not being aware of the consequences of these false statements about animals, which reopen the wound of caregivers and true dolphin lovers who feel they have lost a member of their family because of the storm, as Mandy Rodriguez, co-founder and Chief Executive of Dolphin Research Centre, shared on her website dolphinaria.truth.

RicO’Barry, who spread false information last summer about Morgan, supports PETA on this issue. In the interview, to which PETA refers, he declared arrogantly that he could reintroduce dolphins taking the incorrect and misconceived story of Annessa. He ensures that he has returned “many” dolphins into their habitat. But he also has been unable to scientifically prove it. Nevertheless, what has been legally proven is his incorrect handling with the dolphins he has “released”, because due to his inability, either they do not survive or are captured. Therefore, neither in this case nor in the fall of Annessa, he can speak about a successful release or a new life at sea.

People, who distort facts in their favor as PETA and O’Barry do in this case, are not reliable. They deceive with fake publications in order to receive donations. The distortion of facts in Annessa’s story is merely one example. For this reason, we will not agree to dialogue or cooperate with PETA, O’Barry, or any other organization that disseminates false information, and even less to fulfill their requirements. They have been disqualified several times, both as an organization and as a reliable source of information, no matter how many signatures they say they have collected.

Here you can read the whole statement again, made by Mandy Rodriguez, co-founder and Chief Executive of Dolphin Research Centre in Florida, “O’Barry and others have no evidence to support their claim that Annessa was alive and seen “all the time” when she disappeared after a storm many years ago. They were incapable of identifying her from any other dolphin. For many weeks, DRC caregivers who knew her since the day that she was born, and could easily recognize her, searched throughout the Florida Keys – including responding to possible sightings from the general public. There was a single instance of a photo of her that we were able to confirm soon after the storm, but that was all. It’s important to note that in that single photograph we saw, it was clear that Annessa had already lost a considerable amount of weight and was not sustaining herself in the wild. Unfortunately, Annessa was never seen again and there is no evidence to suggest that she survived long term.” And she adds “O’Barry and others use this unsubstantiated rumor in an attempt to support their agenda. Not only are they continuing to spread false information that is ultimately misleading to their followers and the general public, but each mention of Annessa reopens a wound in the hearts of DRC personnel and dolphin lovers who lost a beloved family member.”

After that statement, it is clear to everyone that those who are against dolphinariums have to lie to argue against our keeping, because they have no evidences for our care to be negative for Morgan or any other dolphin under our protection. Several individual experts and expert teams guarantee animal welfare in our dolphin’s lagoon and in Orca Ocean. We also acknowledge medical information that shows that our animals are well here and that our care it does not affect them negatively (because of high levels of stress, for example). The most important institution for animal welfare in Spain, as well as the authorities, has also confirmed it. They have both data and our animals at their disposal.

We encourage you to visit our dolphinarium where you will not only know the truth about dolphin care, but you will also learn about these animals. Each one of our visitors, more than one million a year, can note that our animals are well looked-after, and they can also see the love and respect they receive from us. We should not let that a radical and fanatic minority spread false information against dolphinariums on the Internet.

Appendix: Original citation

“O’Barry and others have no evidence to support their claim that Annessa was alive and seen “all the time” when she disappeared after a storm many years ago. They were incapable of identifying her from any other dolphin. For many weeks, DRC caregivers who knew her since the day that she was born, and could easily recognize her, searched throughout the Florida Keys – including responding to possible sightings from the general public. There was a single instance of a photo of her that we were able to confirm soon after the storm, but that was all. It’s important to note that in that single photograph we saw, it was clear that Annessa had already lost a considerable amount of weight and was not sustaining herself in the wild. Unfortunately, Annessa was never seen again and there is no evidence to suggest that she survived long term.”

“O’Barry and others use this unsubstantiated rumor in an attempt to support their agenda. Not only are they continuing to spread false information that is ultimately misleading to their followers and the general public, but each mention of Annessa reopens a wound in the hearts of DRC personnel and dolphin lovers who lost a beloved family member.”

Zoophobia: An Alternate Reality

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Original Source: http://zoonation.org/zoophobia-an-alternate-reality/

Unfortunately, today we live in an age of ignorance and the misrepresentation of science by animal rights groups. Additionally, this has been propelled by the media, social media, and now by business owners. The latest announcement regarding unlikely partnerships is not the first time a company has been guided by public opinion. Unfortunately we are living in an alternate reality where public opinion matters more than science, so much that an era of zoophobia has begun.

Zoophobia is defined as an unreasonable and persistent fear of animals that can cause avoidance and panic. I would venture to say that there is now a second definition of zoophobia – An unrealistic and persistent fear of being associated with or a supporter of zoological facilities. Most phobias or mild fears begin with a misunderstanding or ignorance about what is feared. The beginning of this zoophobia era was initiated by a bad partnership, a partnerships forged in fear and not with understanding. This year SeaWorld decided to relinquish its fight against an orca-breeding ban. Not only did they stop fighting, but they also supported a re-written bill introduced to law in California that made breading orcas illegal. SeaWorld went a step further and partnered with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)–an organization that has been out spoken against animals in human care and proponents of abolishing the use of zoological facilities. While the some of the conservation projects are admirable such as ending shark finning, SeaWorld is set up to do this on their own and did not need the partnership. The partnership came down to one thing, improving public opinion, as a post-Blackfish recovery plan. This announcement set a precedent for the fate of all zoological and aquarium facilities.

Recently TripAdvisor made an announcement that they are ‘committed to improve wildlife welfare standards in tourism with industry-leading education effort and booking policy changes’. TripAdvisor is partnering with groups and will discontinue selling tickets to animal experiences that connect people with animals in human care. This new policy will go in effect in 2017 and include interactive programs such as swimming with dolphins. However they will continue to support interactive programs such as feeding programs and touch tanks under the supervision of zoo or wildlife officials. As you can see their announcement is not very clear at all. Although their new policy is a bit ambiguous, they do have the support of some major players in conservation as well as animal rights activist groups. If you’re surprised by this combination so are we, especially when two opposing forces like the Association for Zoos and Aquariums AZA) and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). This is a mirror image of the SeaWorld HSUS partnership.

“We believe the end result of our efforts will be enabling travelers to make more thoughtful choices about whether to visit an animal attraction and to write more meaningful reviews about those attractions.”

Stephen Kaufer, CEO and Co-Founder of TripAdvisor

Along with the ban on interactive programs, TripAdvisor is launching an ‘educational’ portal where users will be able to learn about responsible interactions with wild, endangered, and captive animals for wildlife experts. It is centered on educating the public on eco-tourism and conservation. The public will learn about these experiences by clicking on a paw icon to read information from PETA as well as academics exploring all sides of the topic. It is interesting that they mention PETA before academics. This is just another example that indicates public opinion matters more than science. Opinion is not fact; therefore information from PETA should not be included with academic information, as it can be misleading as fact given its context. This is exactly how ignorance and a lack of understanding is perpetually integrated into conversations and negates or confuses the conclusions of scientific literature. This is used to play to the emotions and not to logic. Animal rights groups and mockumentaries such as Blackfish use this tactic to elicit an emotional decision about what a person believes, which allows a person to perceive the misinterpretation of facts or manipulated facts to draw conclusions inline with what animal rights activists want. By doing this they create an alternate reality leading to zoophobia.

This is yet another precedent that will become a major challenge to raising awareness to all of the good aspect of zoological facilities, such as conservation, education, breeding programs, and scientific research. Even PETA acknowledged this precedent. “By refusing to sell tickets to businesses that treat animals as entertainment or playthings, TripAdvisor is making a precedent-setting statement about the use and abuse of animals for entertainment. PETA looks forward to contributing to TripAdvisor’s industry-leading education portal, which will empower people around the world to make better decisions when it comes to animal-friendly travel,” said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. It is clear that businesses are scared to go against public opinion even if it goes against science, which has only furthered the agenda of animal rights groups. For instance Steve McIvor of the World Animal Protection was quoted in the Guardian. He said, “We hope it will only be a matter of time before TripAdvisor will also come to realize that it has to end sales to all cruel wildlife attractions, such as SeaWorld where the animals endure a lifetime of abuse and highly stressful training to perform. Until then we will provide the best education we can on TripAdvisor’s website to steer people away from cruel venues like these.”

Many have called this an evolution of the animal and entertainment industries, a reflection of a change in public sentiment and awareness of animal welfare. However at Zoo Nation we feel this is a strongly misguided statement and that we have actually taken a step backwards. Social media forwards a good portion of this agenda and most of these decision based on ‘public sentiment’ has been emotional decisions, not scientifically informed decisions. This is how ignorance wins and this is how public opinion has become more important than science.

At Zoo Nation we support the scientific management of animals in human care. Research has come a long way and we agree that not all zoos are equal. However, the best shot of preserving species when populations are becoming decimated is through the use of zoological and conservation facilities. These facilities are on the forefront of cutting edge research, conservation methods, breeding programs, and education. Part of the problem that we are facing with an eminent sixth extinction is that people have become so disconnected with the natural world; they are under the illusion that they don’t need it. If your not connected then how can you care or be aware. Because of this people rationalize decisions on what needs to happen based on emotion and not based on knowledge. We have information at our fingertips and yet people still make decisions based on opinions and emotion. This is exactly why these new zoophobia trends continue to happen and are gaining speed. The best way to prevent the spread of zoophobia is by education and having the right information. That is why at zoo Nation we are committed to support the zoological and aquarium community by raising awareness, showing the impact they have on conservation and research, and educating the next generation in the hopes of preventing the next major extinction event driven by humans.

Independent experts confirm the welfare of the orcas at Loro Parque

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An independent assessment, conducted by experts from the Zoo Animal Welfare Education Centre (Zawec), has certified that the 6 orcas that live in Loro Parque fulfil the diverse welfare standards established by the Welfare Quality protocol. Thus, this assessment, performed on Loro Parque its request in August this year, confirms the great diet of the cetaceans and the availability of an adequate area for the animals, as well as a correct behaviour and the optimum health state.

Under the premise of having a qualified opinion not linked to the park or anti-zoo groups, scientists examined the facilities and condition of the animals, as well as collecting information about handling routines, training programs and veterinary supervision of the orcas. For that matter, experts had free access to veterinary registers and to a research on the social behavior of the orcas in Loro Parque.

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The report’s findings, derived from observation and analysis of these animals are determinant, clear and concise: “The evidence indicates that Keto, Kohana, Skyla, Tekoa, Morgan and Adam get adequate food, both in quantity and quality; the quality and temperature of the pool water is appropriate; the design and size of the pools of orcas meet the recommendations currently available; and the health of the orcas of Loro Parque are mostly good, with the exception of dental problems, although the time dedicated by the keepers to the cure and supervision to avoid pain or discomfort of the orcas, is seen as especially positive.”

Finally, the document notes that “the protocols of medical training and veterinary supervision and intervention are very satisfactory. Moreover, the orcas show a behavior that indicates a relationship of complete trust with their caregivers.”

The Zawec organization has essential objectives training and research in welfare of the animals in the zoo. Its main activities are the elaboration and the validation of welfare assessment protocols for different species in captivity, advice on the welfare of wild animals and the development of research projects on welfare of wild animals in captivity.

Spirtle The Dolphin Was Spotted Speeding To Recovery

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Original article: Spirtle The Dolphin Was Spotted Speeding To Recovery

Scotland isn’t exactly the first place a person thinks of when worrying about getting a sunburn. However, a dolphin affectionately known as “Spirtle” has proved that sunburns can happen anywhere and on any animal. And we’re talking about a really bad sunburn.

Spirtle was first spotted in May, while stranded on a large expanse of tidal mudflats near Aberdeen, Scotland. The bottlenose dolphin, after being stuck in the sun for nearly a day, was rescued and refloated. It took a group effort thanks to a team of multiple organizations, including British Divers Marine Life Rescue, the Scottish SPCA and staff from North 58 Sea Adventures. You can read the full story covering the rescue here.

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Dolphin skin is crucial in their ability to efficiently swim at high speeds. SeaWorld describes their skin as soft and rubbery and it has evolved into a texture that reduces extra drag. They shed their outer skin every two hours in order to keep their skin in prime streamlined condition. In recent years, researchers have noticed that sunburns on cetaceans have been increasing, as noted in Science magazine. Many are attributing this trend to the reduction of the ozone layer.

Before the stranding, Spirtle was already apart of a group of 200 animals that were being monitored and observed by scientists from the University of Aberdeen. Shortly after the rescue, Spirtle was counted as M.I.A. until the later part of July. BBC notes that scientists were actually skeptical that she would survive her serious injury. When she was seen again, researchers were excited to report that she was showing positive signs towards a full recovery. Her most recent sighting was in mid September, when she was seen babysitting her sister’s calf. Spirtle is easily recognizable because of her severe wound, so there was no doubt that the bottlenose dolphin was her.

Researchers are very encouraged by the fact that the wound seems to be healing well and shows no signs of infection. They are hopeful that she will make a full recovery and will eventually even go on to breed and raise little ones of her own.