Loro Parque successfully launch an underwater garden unique in the world

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Yesterday afternoon, Thursday May 31st, Loro Parque inaugurated a new, never-before-seen exhibition.  It’s an unprecedented landscape aquarium, the first of its kind to be built in the world.  Called the Zen Garden, it’s inspired by Japanese gardens and the majestic mountain ranges of Asia and can be found at the AquaViva exhibition, home to the most spectacular jellyfish.

More than 200 people, including political and civil authorities and representatives of the business world, were the first to enjoy this submerged garden that amazed everyone present, who were unanimous in appreciating the great work done in the installation.  Special mention should be made of the presence of the Japanese Consul from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Takeshi Nakajima, who accompanied the authorities during the opening ceremony.

This unique space has been designed by Yago Alonso, an outstanding student of Takashi Amano, the famous watercolorist and landscape photographer of international renown, who invented this type of submerged landscape using gardening techniques inside aquariums.

Some characteristics that make it special are the use of fresh water in the installation or the presence of species of animals and plants in its interior, uncommon and yet fascinating.  Exotic fish, snails and small shrimp live together in this space where the main protagonist is the balance between flora and fauna.

The harmony and stability of the Zen Garden is such that it is self-supporting, maintaining itself and continuing without the necessity of the intervention of the human hand once the space has been designed.  This factor is considered a key goal in the art of aquascaping, a technique used in its creation.

From today, Friday, June 1, all our visitors will be able to enjoy this innovative installation in the AquaViva exhibition, with which it blends in perfect harmony due to its exotic atmosphere.

Loro Parque Foundation Is Saving Nine Parrot Species From Extinction

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Source: http://awesomeocean.com/guest-columns/loro-parque-foundation-is-saving-whole-species/

By Sarah Sharkey

The Loro Parque Foundation has been able to save nine parrot species from extinction. That’s right, nine! An impressive number that has earned them the reputation of the most effective non-profit organization in the area.

The organization spent over 18 million dollars in order to save these beautiful parrots from leaving us forever. The detail about which parrots they saved can be found below.

The Yellow-eared Parrot in Columbia has rebounded from a population of just 82 birds and critically endangered to a status of endangered. They aren’t out of the woods yet, but they are on the way to a stable population.  The Red-tailed Cockatoo population in the Philippines has grown from 22 to 1,200 birds strong. The Blue-throated Macaw in Bolivia is still critically endangered, but their population numbers are slowly rising which is an amazing step of progress.

The Red-tailed Amazon in Brazil has a growing population that has been encouraged by articila nests provided by the Loro Parque Foundation. The Lear’s Macaw in Brazil grew from less than 200 birds to over 1,300. A huge increase that has moved them from the critically endangered category to endangered. The Echo Parakeet found on the Island of Mauricio has grown from 12 birds to over 500! The black-cheeked lovebird in Zambia is being studied in hopes that a recovery can happen. The blue-headed Macaw in Peru has moved from endangered to vulnerable, a huge step in the right direction.

Finally, the horned parakeet in New Caledonia is has been thriving and moved from an endangered to vulnerable status.

All of these steps are big steps in the right direction. Without the Loro Parque Foundation, it is likely these birds would just fade from our planet. Hopefully, the foundation can continue to save amazing animals like these.

Learn more from our source here.

The Zen Garden, balance between two worlds in Loro Parque

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It’s only a matter of days before Loro Parque inaugurates its new exhibition, a unique aquarium landscape where the main protagonist is the balance between the flora and fauna that coexist in its interior.  Called the Zen Garden, it will evoke the beauty of the perfect balance inherent in the planet’s ecosystems, which is unfortunately being lost in the natural environment.

Thus, the synergy between botany, multidiscipline aquarium specialities and light that characterises this innovative exhibition will perfectly represent the wonders of nature.  Due to its exotic atmosphere, and ideal to accompany it in perfect harmony, the Zen Garden will be located in AquaViva, home of the most spectacular jellyfish from tropical seas.

This aquarium landscape is unprecedented as it is the first of its kind to be built in the world.  Some features that make it special are the use of fresh water in the installation or the presence of plant species inside, rare and yet fascinating.  Exotic fish, snails and small shrimp live together in this space where the main protagonist is the balance between flora and fauna.

The harmony and stability of the Zen Garden is such that it is self-supporting, maintaining itself and continuing without the necessity of the intervention of the human hand once the space has been designed.  This factor is considered a key goal in the art of aquascaping, a technique used in its creation.

The space is dominated by shadows, an element highly valued in Japanese culture as an aesthetic feature because they are considered to awaken the imagination of the observer through covert rather than overt exhibition.  Thus, this water garden invites visitors to discover an exhibition of a delicacy and spectacularity never before seen.

Through this innovative underwater garden, Loro Parque, as a wildlife conservation centre, wants to emphasise the importance of maintaining the balance of the natural environment ecosystems that represent the wonders of nature.  The exhibition will be open to the public from Friday, June 1, after its official opening on Thursday, May 31.

Loro Parque will soon be opening an underwater garden unique worldwide

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A new, unprecedented and internationally important exhibition, which will take the form of a landscape aquarium, opens at the end of May in Loro Parque. This Japanese-style underwater garden is the first of its kind to be built in the world and awakens feelings reminiscent of Atlantis, the famous legendary underwater city. With this never-before-seen commitment, the Loro Parque Company consolidates its dedication to offer its visitors innovative proposals, which are unique in the world and always designed with excellence as a prerequisite.

This innovative underwater exhibition is inspired by Japanese forest landscapes and the majestic mountain ranges of the Asian mountains and has been created using the ‘aquascaping’ technique. Unique in the world for its complexity, innovation and beauty, it will convey depth and balance in the purest Zen style and will captivate fans of flora and fauna alike.

It stands out not only for its complexity, but also for the species used in its creation and for the distribution of the plants and their luxuriance. The latter is a key aspect, as many of them have to adapt to the growth of their leaves in a submerged space, evoking a level of aesthetics cared for to the millimetre, similar to the art of pruning and maintaining a bonsai. Thus, visitors will marvel at the complexity of the flora, totally alive and in all its splendour, as the display design has black-balled any inert element that is simply decorative.

Through this innovative underwater garden, Loro Parque, as a wildlife conservation centre, wants to emphasise the importance of maintaining the balance of the natural environment ecosystems that represent the wonders of nature.

The exhibition will be open to the public from Friday, June 1, after its official opening on Thursday, May 31.

Loro Parque Foundation unveils the Canarian seas to students

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Throughout April, the Loro Parque Foundation carried out the ‘Discovering Our Sea’ project, which aims to raise awareness of the extraordinary richness of Canarian waters and the need to protect and conserve them.  The initiative is aimed at secondary school students and involved different schools on the island of Tenerife.

The activity was carried out in three sessions, on different days, and was led by the Foundation’s educators, who used a dynamic of play and participative work with the aim of encouraging interest in the students and to generate a link that promotes the protection of the marine environment and nature in general.  The first part took place in the classroom at the individual schools, the second in Loro Parque and the third on board the Freebird One catamaran.

The ‘Discovering Our Sea’ project seeks to: broaden young people’s knowledge of the archipelago’s oceanographic characteristics that make it a biodiversity hotspot; to discover and teach them to appreciate the immense wealth of the islands’ marine fauna, especially the cetacean species that frequent the Canarian coasts; to improve their awareness of the main problems affecting the conservation of the marine environment; and to develop attitudes of respect, care and responsibility for the conservation of the oceans, by strengthening and promoting the use of more sustainable alternatives that reduce the negative impacts of human activity therein.

This Loro Parque Foundation initiative is particularly important given the geographical situation of the Canary Islands, which, together with their oceanographic peculiarities, bring together tropical and subtropical species and temperate water species in their surroundings.  The proximity of bathypelagic and abyssopelagic environments on the coasts makes the archipelagos of the Macaronesian region large oases in the middle of the north-south migratory routes, which favours the presence of the greatest diversity of cetaceans in the entire Atlantic Ocean.

However, these characteristics make oceanic islands more susceptible to various threat factors, such as climate change, pollution or over-fishing, which adversely affect the protection of the oceans and, in particular, the degree of conservation of certain species.

Preventing the deterioration of the marine biodiversity of the Canary Islands is only possible if its unique richness is known and appreciated, which is why environmental education plays a fundamental role in favour of the conservation of this submerged ‘treasure’, which is as beautiful as it’s fragile.  That’s why the Loro Parque Foundation, through ‘Discovering Our Sea’, aims to involve Canarian schoolchildren to improve their knowledge of the characteristic marine heritage that surrounds them, so that they can be its champions and promote attitudes of respect that result in fostering their conservation and the sustainable use of their resources.

Thus, the Foundation continues to implement educational projects that promote the protection and conservation of nature, in line with the work that has defined its efforts since its creation in 1994.  Aligned with the principles of Loro Parque, a wildlife conservation centre that makes its existence possible thanks to its funding, it has already allocated more than $18,000,000,000 to different ‘in situ’ and ‘ex situ’ conservation projects and has managed to save nine species of parrots from extinction.

The activists are wrong: Aquariums support conservation

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By: Robin Ganzert*

Source: http://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/387008-the-activists-are-wrong-aquariums-support-conservation

Judging by the dozens of aquariums around the country offering Mother’s Day programming, tens of thousands of American moms appear set to spend their special day getting a front row seat to the majestic and awe-inspiring creatures of the sea. For good reason. A trip to the local aquarium is something the whole family can enjoy, with sea life giving moms a well-deserved break from entertaining the kids.

Unfortunately, an activist movement called Empty the Tanks is trying to spoil the fun. Today, it is hosting coordinated worldwide protests demanding that aquariums return their inhabitants to the sea. Its mission statement is, “End captivity, protect the oceans.”

As a committed conservationist, I understand that this mission has a certain emotional appeal. But upon further examination, emptying aquarium tanks would have a negative impact beyond just eliminating the joy of visiting an aquarium. It would set back the conservationist cause, not advance it.

Aquariums are arks of hope for the countless marine wildlife threatened by ocean pollution and overfishing. There is an island of plastic garbage twice the size of Texas floating off the coast of California, one of five massive garbage islands covering the globe. A Plymouth University study finds plastic pollution affects at least 700 marine species, and some estimates suggest that at least 100 million marine mammals are killed each year as a result.

All three species of bluefin tuna are so endangered by overfishing that their recovery is virtually impossible. New Zealand’s Maui dolphin and West Africa’s Atlantic humpbacked dolphin could disappear within a decade. There are more than 135 endangered shark species; the number of scalloped hammerhead shark, found at the New Jersey aquarium, among others, has decreased by 99 percent over the past 30 years. Roughly 15 percent of aquarium species are threatened or endangered.

Most aquariums have robust rescue programs, where these threatened animals can find a safe harbor, with conservation and research as key missions. Once rescued, aquariums can study these species and make a real impact in saving them.

There are 115 reintroduction programs, 40 of which focus on threatened or endangered species, at American zoos and aquariums. So far this year, SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team has rescued 30 manatees, which are returned when rehabilitated. In total, SeaWorld has rescued more than 31,000 animals and published more than 300 scientific studies.

Research conducted by aquarium scientists also informs conservation efforts and exhibits. Last year, Georgia Aquarium scientists successfully performed health assessments on endangered whale sharks for the first time ever in Indonesia’s remote Cenderawasih Bay. During their recent visit to St. Helena, scientists studied whale shark movements and the impact of plastic pollution on their livelihoods. This information helps inform conservation efforts and the whale shark exhibit at Georgia Aquarium.

Perhaps the biggest benefit aquariums have in advancing conservation is by inspiring people to act. Aquariums offer ordinary people the extraordinary opportunity to see fascinating sea life up close. This is vital to generating the public support necessary for conservation efforts. To generate support for conserving sea creatures, people must deeply appreciate them. But to appreciate them, people must first know them. Aquariums offer people this introduction.

To do the most good, aquariums must be held to the highest standards of animal welfare. The American Humane Conservation Program furthers this goal by certifying that animals in participating zoos and aquariums are healthy, positively social, active, safe and living with proper light, sound, air and heat levels. These standards are set by animal science experts, providing the third-party validation of humane treatment and positive welfare that an increasingly discerning public is demanding.

Like most mothers, I recognize the indescribable bond that children have with animals. Weakening this bond by returning aquarium inhabitants to the sea would also weaken the conservation movement. Potential protesters today should think about this before acting on emotions. And American families should support conservation efforts by visiting their local aquariums.

*Robin Ganzert, Ph.D., is president and CEO of American Humane, the country’s oldest national humane organization. She is the former deputy director of philanthropic services at The Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, D.C., and was senior vice president and national director of Philanthropic Wealth Management. The author of the book, “Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors,” she is regularly featured on forums including CNN, The Today Show, Fox and Friends, NPR, and On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.

Loro Parque Foundation’s work succeeds in saving 9 species of parrots from extinction

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Thanks to its conservation efforts, the Loro Parque Foundation has managed to save a total of 9 parrot species from total extinction. Since its creation in 1994, the Loro Parque Foundation has supported conservation projects for endangered species with an economic contribution of more than $18,000,000. The change of threat category in many of these 9 species is a worldwide environmental conservation success that makes this non-profit organisation the most effective in this area internationally.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) ‘Red List’ groups the different species into different categories of threat: of minor concern, almost threatened, vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered, extinct in the wild and extinct. The psittacids – the parrots – are one of the most threatened groups of birds on the planet. Thanks to the efforts of the Foundation, 9 species have been saved from imminent extinction.

Below is a list of the species with specific information on each of the projects and their results.

Yellow-eared Parrot (Ognorhynchus icterotis) – Colombia

In 1998, there were only 82 Yellow-eared Parrots in Colombia. Over the years, thanks to the technical and financial support of the Loro Parque Foundation, with a contribution of more than $1,500,000 dollars, its population is currently around 4,000. Thus, its category has changed from ‘critically endangered’ to ‘endangered’.

This bird is directly linked to a local palm tree from which the leaves were extracted for religious and cultural celebrations. And the link between the two species is so close that if the palm tree disappears, the Yellow-eared Parrot becomes extinct. The use of artificial nests, several repopulation and local awareness actions with the indigenous population and their authorities were carried out with such success that, today, this species of parrot can be seen in flocks. Through the local organisation `ProAves’, measures have been implemented that have enabled local people to become directly involved and protect their unique natural asset.

Lear’s Macaw (Anodorhynchus leari) – Brazil

The Lear’s Macaw, a native of north-eastern Brazil, has historically been the victim of hunting, looting, habitat destruction and pressures of various kinds in an area where conditions are extreme. In 1994, the census was less than 200 individuals, but today there are 1,300 individuals, moving them from the ‘critically endangered’ category up to ‘endangered’. Loro Parque Foundation has supported different actions for the recovery of this species with more than $460,000.

Among the most relevant of the actions is that of compensating the region’s maize farmers, who blamed the damage to their crops on this species. Once the actual damage has been demonstrated, the creation of a fund generated from different institutions allows growers to receive payment of the corresponding amounts with the commitment not to kill the macaws to avoid the occasional reduction in their production.

The region in which they live, the Caatinga, (which means White Forest in the indigenous South American Tupi language, as in times of extreme drought the trees lose all their leaves and the ends of their branches become whitish) is very unique because, despite reaching high temperatures and extreme dryness, it harbours a great endemic biodiversity. At the same time, the recovery of this species assists the conservation of this area, which is very wide and difficult to cover.

The Loro Parque Foundation also participates in an ‘ex situ’ programme. In 2006, the Brazilian Government sent two pairs, which had been seized from illegal trafficking for reproduction, and the first breeding result was achieved after six months. Today, 32 of them have been born in Tenerife and 9 have returned to their country of origin, all of them forming part of the safety net of the species in controlled environments.

Blue-throated Macaw (Ara glaucogularis) Bolivia

Endemic to the vast plains of the Beni River, the Blue-throated Macaw, a true jewel of nature, did not exceed 50 specimens in the 1990s. Although still critically endangered, the populations that have been observed in the vast territory where they live now exceed 250 specimens. A large investment from 1995 to the present, of more than $1,500,000 dollars has made local populations aware of the danger to this species, which for years was exploited for the use of its feathers in traditional indigenous headdresses.

The development of artificial feathers and workshops to learn how to make headdresses with the substitutes, has allowed thousands of macaws, of different species to benefit. Fieldwork in conjunction with interested locals and their scientific institutions is making progress for this species which, given the uniqueness of its habitat and behaviour, requires a continuous effort over time.

Red-tailed Cockatoo (Aacatua haematuropygia) The Philippines

The Red- Vented Cockatoo project in the Philippines is one of the star projects supported by the Loro Parque Foundation. Thanks to the important efforts of the local NGO `Katala Foundation’, the various populations’ growth has been dizzying: from 22 in the 1990s to over 1,200 today, including the recent release to the wild of 7 specimens which were taken at an early age and later recovered from illegal trafficking.

One of its most illustrious protagonists, Indira Widman, recently received the Withley Awards for Nature and Conservation for her great work with this species, which, as its habitat is the islands, makes recovery and control very complex.

One of the most ingenious strategies developed has been to train prisoners in the local prison and former traffickers who plunder nests as ‘guardians of the wild’. They are now guards in areas where they themselves previously poached and now recognise the importance of the decimation of the populations.

Red-tailed Amazon, Brasil(Amazona brasiliensis) – Brazil

The Brazilian Red-tailed Amazon Parrot is an endangered species of the Atlantic rainforest, mainly from the states of Sao Paulo and Paraná (with very few individuals in the north of the state of Santa Catarina), in the southeast of Brazil. For more than a decade, the Loro Parque Foundation has supported activities for the conservation of the wild population of this species, and the efforts made have proved a resounding success.

In the 1980s, the total population of the Red-tailed Amazon was probably around 2,500, yet it is now estimated that there are more than 9,000 individuals, and the threat category of the species has been reduced from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’. The majority of the population – about 70% – is located in Paraná, where reproduction occurs on low-lying, forested islands along the coast. The forest is susceptible to disturbance, particularly due to the development of tourism and the felling of the tree species that this parrot prefers for nesting.

Consequently, Loro Parque Foundation has supported the environmental group ‘Sociedade de Pesquisa em Vida Selvagem e Educação Ambiental’ (SPVS) to monitor and protect its breeding areas, given that it is vital to involve the local population in order to preserve the trees on which the species depends, and it is encouraging to see how, in the short term, the use of artificial nests as an auxiliary system has given very good results and has had a direct impact on the increase in the numbers of the species.

Echo Parakeet (Psittacula eques) – Isla de Mauricio

The Echo Parakeet is the last surviving native species of the genus that once inhabited all the western islands of the Indian Ocean. They were common, but began to decline both in numbers and geographical distribution in the mid-1800s. In 1986, a population of only 8 to 12 individuals was estimated with just three females of an age to reproduce.

The decline was a consequence of the massive destruction and degradation of habitat, resulting in a shortage of native food-supplying trees and the large endemic trees needed to nest.

The recovery effort for this species was conducted through the ‘Mauritius Wildlife Foundation’, with which the Loro Parque Foundation actively collaborated to help meet its primary objective:- to establish a viable population of the Echo Parakeet in the wild. The programme made an important contribution to population growth, which reached 188 in 2003. In addition, successful releases of captive-bred parakeets were made, and a reinforcement of breeding between wild and captive-bred parakeets – one of the most relevant pieces of data was the reproduction of a captive-bred female mated with a wild male giving hope and viability to her species.

Twelve of these Mauritian parakeets, released during the breeding season on the island, survived in the native forests. As a result of all these efforts, continued over time, the growth of the species on the island continues to be exponential, with a census that today exceeds 500 specimens.

Blue-headed Macaw (Primolius couloni) – Peru

Peru, Brazil and Bolivia are home to the rare Blue-headed Macaw, although its localised populations are never very abundant. However, the global population is growing in numbers and its category of threat has also changed from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’.

The Loro Parque Foundation has funded field research for this species, developing field maps that describe the locations of the species that may temporarily be more or less abundant. Knowing the actual censuses of this species is the basis for its conservation, and its change in threat category does not completely ensure its disappearance in specific areas.

Horned Parakeet (Eunymphicus cornutus) – New Caledonia

In New Caledonia, a parakeet with a head adorned with elegant feathers has suffered for years from invasive species in its habitat, such as rats, which attack its eggs and chicks. Monitoring their territories throughout the breeding season, and identifying breeding strategies and habitat conditions for the species, have allowed it to thrive in recent years, moving them from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’.

To be able to identify the type of landscape in which they move, and to know their daily behaviour, as well as the problems they face, involves a great deal of research and technical work which, in this case, has given very good results.

Black-cheeked lovebird (Agapornis nigrigenis) – Zambia

Since 1997, the Loro Parque Foundation has collaborated with the Research Centre for African Parrot Conservation in South Africa researching into the populations of the Black-cheeked lovebird, a small parrot whose populations in south-western Zambia were little known.

Interestingly, this was one of the last parrots discovered in Africa (1906), and the populations that existed under human care in Europe were greatly reduced after the two world wars, which affected the import of specific grains into Europe and could influence future demands for catches.

Learning about its habitat, its biology in general, and interacting with local populations so that they can understand the importance of preserving it and how to do so has been crucial for the recovery of this species that is now, once again, abundant in the environment. The Loro Parque Foundation continues to support the research of this species in the field in order to have updated censuses.