Loro Parque Gives a Warm Welcome to Two Pygmy Hippos

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After the grand opening of the Zen Garden, a submerged garden unique worldwide, was celebrated just a few months ago, and after receiving the recent recognition of TripAdvisor as the world’s Number One zoo for the second consecutive year, Loro Parque is once again bringing new surprises for those who appreciate its great commitment to wildlife in all its beauty and diversity.

This time, as part of its ongoing commitment to conservation, Loro Parque welcomes two new members to its large zoological family tomorrow, Saturday September 1: two Pygmy Hippos who are arriving directly from Germany and the Czech Republic to live together in a naturalised facility specially designed for them.  In the Parque, they will act as representatives of their peers in nature, who are facing serious problems, due in particular to the destruction of their habitat.

Adela and Malela, both females, will live in a space that recreates the swampy areas where this species lives in the wild, with water as the main element.  As they do not sweat, contact with the air dries their skin very quickly, so water is vital to lowering their body temperature and keeping their bodies hydrated.

Pygmy Hippos are vegetarians, consuming mainly leaves, ferns, herbs, roots, fallen fruit and shrubs, as well as semi-aquatic plants, which they eat from time to time.  Unlike most animals, this species uses its lips instead of the teeth to gobble up food.

A unique feature of this species from the African continent is that, unlike common hippos, they do not have their young in the water, but give birth on land and the young are able to swim immediately after birth.

Without a doubt, the arrival of these two female Pygmy Hippopotami at Loro Parque will allow the visitors from around the globe to discover a magnificent species, which is in danger of extinction according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

New surprise attraction: Ringed-Tail Lemurs

Very close to the new facility that will host the Pygmy Hippos, visitors will be able to discover a species from Madagascar of great charisma – Ringed Tail Lemurs, which are also endangered in nature.  Familiar and very sociable, they belong to a primitive group of primates, which are associated in clans of up to 30 individuals and are usually dominated by the females.

Unfortunately, habitat loss due to mining, logging and hunting, among other threats faced by the species in the wild, has led to a population decline of more than 50 per cent over the past 30 years.  Their presence in Loro Parque will thus help to raise awareness among visitors of their precarious situation in Madagascar.

Loro Parque, as a wildlife conservation centre, has affirmed that it is happy to be able to share these innovative facilities with all its visitors and wanted to reiterate its gratitude: to its fans on social networks for all the messages of support and congratulations for their work; to the tour operators, for their important commitment to a zoo whose priority is animal welfare and to all the collaborators in the scientific field, for sharing with the Loro Parque team their mission – to protect and conserve animals and their natural habitats for future generations.

The Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Conservation (ZGAP) supports Loro Parque

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Source: http://www.loroparque.com/press/en/component/k2/item/download/23_bf0dc5ed5c901a643f15b9df674d6952

Dear Dr. Frankhauser,

The travel company, Thomas Cook, recently announced that as of summer 2019 they will no longer sell trips to fecilities that care for orcas (Orcinus orca).

We, the Zoologische Gesellschaft Für Arten und Populationsschutz. e. V./Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Conservation (ZGAP) are certain that Loro Parque, as our long-term species conservation partner, has been caring successfully and to the highest welfare standards for orcas for 20 years. Therefore, the husbandry of orcas in this institution is by no means an “animal welfare” matter, but most unfortunately, triggered by the extremist animal rights industry, solely a matter of animal rights ideology.

Loro Parque is with no doubt and for very good reasons recognized as a leader in Conservation, Education and Research and, in addition, they recently achieved a 100% rating in a focused animal welfare audit as part of the requirements laid down by Thomas Cook. Global conservation research programs involving orca at the park have also contributed to the development of prototype devices that use vocalizations to aid open sea orca protection and welfare.

That announcement by Thomas Cook cites “animal welfare” as a driver for their decision. However, to our greatest disappointment and concern they do not appear to have considered the proven high animal welfare record that Loro Parque has. It is also difficult to understand the motives of Thomas Cook whereby they require a facility to undergo a welfare audit and then disregard the results.

ZGAP strongly and kindly encourages Thomas Cook to reconsider their decision, specifically as it relates to EAZA Accredited facilities like Loro Parque who, in addition, have passed the Thomas Cook welfare audit requirements.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Jens-Ove Heckel

ZGAP President

Radical activists put Loro Parque dolphins at serious risk

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Yesterday morning, Sunday 26th August, just a few minutes before the start of one of the Loro Parque dolphin presentation, three radical activists, two Belgian and one Dutch, irresponsibly jumped into the water of the dolphins’ pool, without taking into account the terrible consequences that can result from such an action, for the animals, their trainers and for themselves.  These people are perfectly aware that you cannot predict the behaviour of dolphins, and yet they jumped in.

Fortunately, thanks to the strong bond of friendship and trust between the animals and their trainers, it was possible to avoid them succumbing to fear and a much worse outcome was avoided.

This type of vandalism is happening all the time; examples could be the release of minks or squirrels from farms, which are becoming a serious ecological problem for the affected regions.  It is also worth recalling a case that occurred in Florida, where two dolphins were released into the sea, without being prepared for the process, by an activist Ric O’Barry: one of them died almost immediately and the other lived the rest of its life with serious lacerations received as a result of this deed.  This action was brought to trial and the individual concerned was convicted and made to pay the maximum fine for such a serious incident – $50,000.

Loro Parque suggests that the authors of the present type of action should be more concerned about, and deal with, the terrible damage done to the more than 100 million sharks that are being killed for their fins each year, to the forests that are disappearing by leaps and bounds and with them the habitat of millions of species, or the oceans which are in a terrible state due to noise and plastic pollution.

Loro Parque has always given great importance to the scientific work that is carried out with their animals, and the presentations, so valued by visitors to the Parque, have an eminently educational character.

In its commitment to the environment, Loro Parque has invested more than 18 million dollars in environmental projects through their Loro Parque Foundation, saving, amongst other important achievements, nine species of parrots from imminent extinction, and improving the populations of many other animals.

Those who claim to be pro-animal activists and allow such acts of vandalism to take place for the sole purpose of attracting media attention would do well to ask what they have done for nature and what real or economic contribution they have made to the protection and conservation of wildlife.

Loro Parque would like to thank the people present at the presentation for clearly expressing their indignation and rejection of this type of action and their harsh criticism of these individuals, as well as their gratitude to all the true lovers of nature who have supported the Parque on social networks since the news was made public.

Loro Parque, recognised as the #1 Zoo in the World for the second consecutive year

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Loro Parque has once again been recognised as the BEST ZOO IN THE WORLD. This accomplishment has come for the second consecutive year, according to the highly reputable travel website TripAdvisor, as it was revealed in their annual Travellers’ Choice 2018 awards.  Once again, the independent evaluations of the major web platform’s users who have visited the facilities have confirmed that there is no better park than this one on the planet.

This recognition reinforces Loro Parque’s role as an authentic wildlife conservation centre, whose pillars are education, conservation and raising awareness among its visitors about the importance of protecting the animal world and its ecosystems.  Almost 50 million people have visited its facilities throughout its more than 45-year history, and all of them have recognised the top welfare of all the animals in the Parque.

Loro Parque picturesquely located on Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, has an elaborate science, education and conservation programme implemented since 1994 through the Loro Parque Foundation. In this period of time and thanks to the principal sponsorship from Loro Parque, the Foundation was able to allocate more than 19 million dollars directly to the development of ‘in situ’ and ‘ex situ’ conservation programmes.  This recognition coincides, precisely, with the transfer of six specimens of Lear’s Macaws (one of the nine parrot species that the Foundation has managed to save from imminent extinction) to Brazil for their reinsertion into the wild, an event that is considered a conservation success.

With this and many other achievements in the protection of wildlife – many of which are marine species – Loro Parque is reaping the rewards of applying a corporate policy of reinvesting all its profits in the continuous development of the company and the constant improvement of animal welfare.  At present, the company reinforces its firm commitment to the expansion of our facilities and infrastructure, which in turn contributes to the constant generation of employment in the Canary Islands.

Loro Parque is celebrating without a doubt, and would like to take this opportunity to thank its customers who visit daily from many different parts of the world; the tour operators, for their important commitment to a wildlife conservation centre whose priority is animal welfare; and all the collaborators in the scientific field, for sharing with the Loro Parque team their mission: to protect and conserve animals and their natural habitats for future generations.

More about Travellers’ Choice 2018: https://www.tripadvisor.es/TravelersChoice-Attractions-cZoos

More information on Loro Parque: http://www.loroparque.com/

Dr. Auguste von Bayern, from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, supports Loro Parque

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Dear Dr. Frankhauser,

Apparently you consider ending the 45 years of cooperation with Loro Parque, one of the world’s most commendable zoos regarding both animal welfare and conservation of endangered species: Thomas Cook intends, from next summer, to “no longer sell any animal attractions that keep orcas in captivity”. You claim that you “have actively engaged with a range of animal welfare specialists in the last 18 months, and taken account of the scientific evidence they have provided.

I am writing to you because 1) I am concerned whether you are indeed basing your decision on scientific facts and real animal welfare interests rather than being influenced by ideological lobbyist groups; and 2) because you do not seem to consider the very negative implications it would trigger.

If you have taken into account scientific evidence that justifies that orcas in particular are not to be kept by zoos, then please reveal the sources and share them publicly. Also make public who the animal welfare specialists whose “expertise” you have relied on were. Otherwise there is a bitter aftertaste that your sources and “experts” may not be objective/trustworthy. Given that over the past years emotional campaigns about orcas in captivity have been pushed by certain unscientific and certainly not objective lobbyists rather than real scientists I find it rather surprising that you are not being transparent about this in the first place.

Personally, I have dedicated my professional life to science and research on animal intelligence. The main motivation behind my work/career has always been to improve respect for animals by providing scientific facts about them, their cognitive abilities and their needs. As a scientist I know that animal welfare as well as conservation of endangered species can only be achieved if we rely on science. Therefore, I urge you to reevaluate whether the decision-making process behind Thomas Cook’s recent considerations has been based on a sufficiently objective and well-informed overall picture building on reliable scientific information.  As a Swiss national and head of a very large company in the tourism industry it should be a matter of honour to be bound by truth and also to take criticism and reconsider wrong decisions.

For the past years my research team has been cooperating with the Loro Parque Foundation, which has granted us access to their parrot collection for comparative research about their cognitive abilities. I therefore know Loro Parque well and can testify that it stands out both in terms of their animal care standards as well as their efforts for wildlife conservation in an international comparison. As Thomas Cook has cooperated with Loro Parque for more than 45 years you must know equally well that the Loro Parque with its associated foundation strives to be a prime example of a “Modern Zoo”, which serves as a platform for education, science and biodiversity conservation and that few zoos have had so much positive impact on conservation of endangered species.

By dumping Loro Parque you are setting a signal in a very wrong direction questioning the legitimacy of zoos overall and neglecting their growing importance for education, awareness building and the protection of nature. After profiting yourselves for 45 years from the guests’ enthusiasm for nature, you will prevent so many people from a potentially life changing encounter with animals as ambassadors for their wild conspecifics and for their natural habitats.

So please investigate internally whether you have got the priorities of your animal welfare policy right in terms of positive impact for wildlife conservation. You will find that by cooperating with Loro Parque you support the right side, a side which enthuses its guests for wild animals and nature and fosters their’ willingness to stand up and act for the protection of nature and biodiversity.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Auguste von Bayern

Max Planck Institute for Ornithology

Loro Parque Foundation returns six examples of an endangered species parrot back to their natural environment in Brazil

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The Loro Parque Foundation is currently transferring six examples of Lear’s Macaws (Anodorhynchus leari) to Brazil, where the species originated, for their reinsertion into the wild.  The parrot is one of the Foundation’s major projects, an ongoing task which has managed to change the species’ status on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List from ‘critically endangered’ to ‘endangered’.

The ‘ex-situ’ work carried out as part of this project is of great importance.  It began in 2006 when the Government of Brazil transferred two pairs of the macaws to the Loro Parque Foundation.  Within only six months, they began to reproduce in Loro Parque and, since then, a total of 30 specimens have been bred, of which six have been selected, in coordination with the project’s national committee in Brazil, that are genetically the most suitable to be released back to the wild.

Thanks to the support of the Foundation, the population of this species has increased significantly.  Nine specimens have already previously been sent to participate in a breeding project under controlled environmental conditions.  This time, these six new individuals, three males and three females, will be transferred to Boqueirão da Onça, in the north of the country, where there are already two individuals living in the wild.  Biologist Erica Pacifico, General Coordinator of the release project, will receive the birds in Brazil, and a technician from the country will accompany them during the trip.

After a period of pre-adaptation and isolation, and after having been tested for any type of disease, the birds will travel to Brazil, where they will be quarantined before being introduced into a large aviary in their natural environment, with plants that are typical of the species’ ecology.  There they will adapt to the sounds of nature and the conditions of the area where the Lear’s Macaw is found.

In this large aviary, what is known as a ‘soft release’ will be made: when the adaptation period is over, the doors of the aviary will be kept open so that they can leave or enter at will.  The two specimens that already live in the area will teach them how to adapt to the environment, and they will be monitored and supported until they are fully adapted.

Thomas Cook’s Mistake

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Thomas Cook’s Mistake

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Source: Letter – Thomas Cook’s Mistake

At the end of a working week and in full summer vacation time, precisely on Friday, July 27, at 16.06hrs, Loro Parque was taken by complete surprise when it received an e-mail from the CEO of the British tour operator Thomas Cook, announcing that due to a change in their animal welfare policy they will cease the ticket sale to Loro Parque.

Loro Parque was even more surprised when hardly 30 minutes later it started to receive the first inquiries from the British press asking for a statement on the decision of Thomas Cook to remove from sale any attractions featuring orcas under human care.

With this scenario it was clear to us that the British tour operator had announced its unilateral decision to the British press even before it was communicated to us; and this after 45 years of an honest and satisfactory business relationship for both parties.

This decision came to us completely unexpected and without any advanced warning.

A little less than a year ago Loro Parque, on request of Thomas Cook, has been audited by Global Spirit (a company linked to the Born Free Foundation) to determine the compliance in our facilities according to the ABTA animal welfare guidelines. The inspection confirmed the 100% compliance of these standards, which is not only the highest score, but guarantees that not only the orcas but all animals at Loro Parque are kept under the highest welfare standards and the strict regulations of ABTA are fulfilled.

Therefore, we ask ourselves: what value does the ABTA certificate with 100% compliance have, if within no time a tour operator decides to finalize a long term good business relationship? Will there be any other zoological institution in the future that will accept an audit of this kind? Are the ABTA guidelines for animal welfare of any use?

In its announcement Thomas Cook states that 90% of their customers take animal welfare serious. We are more than happy to hear that since the welfare of the animals is our outmost concern however, Loro Parque in the last 45 years of cooperation has not received a single complaint or any comment of concern regarding the welfare status of the animals in our care, neither from a Thomas Cook customer nor from the tour operator itself.

Which concerns are we talking about? Unless the customers of Thomas Cook, that have chosen to visit Loro Parque, and many of them repeatedly, are watching over the same standards that Loro Parque manifests in its daily work, offering the best welfare to all the animals in our care.

The same Friday, July 27, Loro Parque was obliged to publish the following statement:

First of all, Loro Parque wants to publicly express its gratitude to the more than a million visitors that have come to our park with Thomas Cook during the last 45 years. In all these years we have not received a single complaint from any of them regarding the welfare of our animals.

In April 2017 Loro Parque was inspected by Global Spirit (a company linked to the Born Free Foundation) following the request of Thomas Cook, in order to determine the compliance of our facilities and procedures with the ABTA animal welfare standards. The inspection obtained the highest score (100% of compliance), which guarantees that not only the orcas, but all the animals in Loro Parque have the best welfare conditions under the strict regulations of the Association of British Tour Agents. The decision of Thomas Cook not only diminishes the value of this inspection, but also is against the animal welfare regulations of ABTA, which are the most rigorous of the world.

Thomas Cook sustains that its decision is based on scientific evidence, but fails to provide any. They also argue that 90% of their clients are concerned about animal welfare, but it does not mean that they have expressed concerns about the orcas housed at Loro Parque.

In our company not only 90% but 100% of our staff is concerned about animal welfare, and we proudly work every day to provide every single animal under our care with the outmost love and respect. That’s the reason why we have obtained the maximum qualifications, not only by Global Spirit, but also by the American Humane, TÜV, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, the Iberian Association of Zoos and Aquaria, the European Association for Aquatic Mammals or the Alliance for Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. This is a clear proof of excellence in animal care, and excellence is the main reason why Loro Parque has been also honoured with the Trip Advisor’s Travellers Choice Award as the best zoo in the world. There is no doubt that many of the visitors that voted to give this award to Loro Parque were Thomas Cook clients.

In fact Loro Parque is the highest decorated zoo in the world having received every single Gold Medal on regional and national level in Spain as well as the highest distinction that any company in Spain can receive: the Prince Felipe Award of Entrepreneurial Excellence.

Furthermore, Loro Parque founded in 1994 led Loro Parque Fundación which has invested until today more than 19 million US dollars in over 150 conservation projects worldwide. As a result nine parrot species have been saved from extinction and many others have improved their population in the wild.

The decision of Thomas Cook is clearly led by anti-zoo organizations leaded by a minority of activists not really concerned about the animals, but just aimed in destroying the zoos and their conservation, research and educational activities. But this will not change our determination to continue working for the welfare of every single animal in this world, and for the conservation of the biodiversity in a planet threatened by the sixth extinction as has been scientifically proven. Already now with 700 million visitors in zoos worldwide it is clear that a zoo visit is a highly demanded activity which in light of the destruction of our nature and environment will become an absolute “must” in the future.

Fortunately, Loro Parque is this year welcoming more visitors than ever, and even without the partnership of Thomas Cook we will continue offering all our visitors a unique opportunity to get to know the wonders of wildlife and become part of our mission: to protect and preserve the animals and their natural habitats for future generations.

On Tuesday, July 31, Loro Parque sent a letter to the British tour operator confirming that we are willing to end the contractual agreement with Thomas Cook by August 1, 2018 if they wish. On Thursday, August 2, Thomas Cook answered us that they do not wish to end the contractual agreement before the end of June 2019.

It is important to note that the British tour operator Thomas Cook took this decision, despite the fact that Loro Parque has all documents on animal welfare in order and up-to-date, on its own account and individually, while this kind of decision can be very harmful for all ecological institutions worldwide.

This is why we are making this case public and transparent. We want to share with you the multiple letters of support that we have received since Thomas Cook published its announcement and we ask you to read the scientific argument prepared by Dr. Javier Almunia, Director of Loro Parque Fundación, which explains in detail why our orcas or any orca under human care cannot be released.

Recently we have also learned that the multinational financial company Fosun from China holds shares of the British tour operator Thomas Cook. Amongst the many activities of this company, they are also active in the tourism sector and own leisure facilities where the interaction with cetaceans is no problem at all. Furthermore, it has been confirmed that the animals in these facilities originate from the cruel drive hunts in Taiji. These hunts have been strongly rejected by the whole zoological community worldwide since many years and no zoological institution in Europe has ever accepted an animal from Taiji.

Finally we would like to state that Loro Parque receives this year more customers than ever and with or without the collaboration of Thomas Cook, we will continue to offer our visitors an opportunity to get to know the wonders of wildlife and make them part of our mission: protect and conserve the animals and their natural habitats for our future generations.

Orcas under human care

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Are sanctuaries and cetacean releases viable alternatives?

As we move ahead through the 21st century and the disconnection between humans and nature increases, the already important educational animal presentations in modern zoological facilities become more and more necessary. Every animal species housed in a zoo becomes an ambassador not only for its wild counterparts, but also for many others that live in endangered habitats and ecosystems.

From more than 46 years ago Loro Parque has become a home for numerous animals in need: chimpanzees, penguins, gorillas, tigers, even orcas. More than a decade ago, SeaWorld needed space to house its growing group of killer whales and Loro Parque agreed to build the world’s most modern facility to provide new space for four of them. In 2006 Skyla, Kohana, Tekoa and Keto (second and third generation orcas bred under human care) arrived to the brand new facilities built at Loro Parque. The group welcomed a new member in 2010, when Adan was born. And in 2011 the Dutch Government requested Loro Parque to house Morgan, an orca found emaciated in the Wadden Sea the previous year, and which was declared non-releasable by the Dutch authorities. At that point the only alternative for Morgan was euthanasia, as the experts and the Supreme Court, after eight previous similar resolutions, agreed that her release would mean a slow but sure death.

Nowadays the six orcas housed at Loro Parque are in perfect shape; their health is closely monitored by a team of veterinarians and their daily needs attended to by a group of zoo keepers with extensive experience in taking care of this species. The social structure of the group is stable and the veterinary records prove that in the last three years they have not presented any significant pathology. Their welfare is continuously monitored by unaffiliated experts from different universities and independent international consultants visit the premises regularly to give advice on various husbandry aspects.

Although there are no concerns about the health and welfare of this group of orcas, some groups of activists like PETA (People for the Ethic Treatment of Animals), Born Free Foundation or Free Morgan Foundation, actively lobby different administrations to release these animals to the sea, or to relocate them to a marine sanctuary. As we will explain further on, the liberation of these animals to the sea is completely impossible and their transfer to a sanctuary will not improve their welfare but rather the contrary. But lately the blackmailing and the pressure from the activists is not limited anymore to the administrations or zoological institutions, they are also threatening tour operators and other companies that work in the touristic sector.

It suits to ask two questions:

Who is saying that the orcas in zoological institutions are not happy?

The answer is only given by anti-zoo organizations. Not any researcher from an independent institution (university) with academic knowledge and accredited experience about animal welfare corroborates these affirmations. Some scientists that have supported the anti-zoo organizations are not experts in animal welfare but their experience is based only on general biology or neuroanatomy.

On what are their affirmations, that the orcas are suffering, based?

Their affirmations are not based on measurements of hormones, rigorous investigations about behaviour or careful scientific studies that evaluate the personality or the activity of the animals. The affirmations of the anti-zoo organizations are based on prejudices and speculations never proven.

In contrast, Loro Parque has independent studies from experts in animal welfare of the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria which, by analyzing all hormonal parameters, their activity and behaviour, conclude that the welfare of the animals is very high.

This leaves very clear that the self-proclaimed organizations for animal rights claim that they are motivated by the lack of welfare of the zoo-housed orcas, despite the fact that none of them has the academic background in animal welfare. Actually, the vast majority of their personnel don’t even have the minimum formation in biology or zoology. The truth is that the so called “animal rights” organizations have turned into big multinational businesses that receive million of dollars in donations from good-hearted people who are truly concerned about animals. Due to this lack of knowledge and experience the effects of these campaigns against zoos that have cetaceans in their care have a disastrous outcome for the orcas. SeaWorld’s decision to stop the breeding program of their orcas in 2016 has resulted in reactivating the hunt of orcas in Russia in order to fulfill the demand of Chinese parks.

At this point it is very important to analyze the demands that the anti-zoo groups make to the administrations and the tour operators: to liberate the orcas to the sea or to transfer them to marine sanctuaries.

1.- Can the orcas be returned to the sea?

The answer is very clear: No. And they know it because we’re talking about a group of hybrid animals (a mixture between orcas from the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans) and no administration from any country will allow that they are liberated into the sea since the risk of genetic contamination of the wild orca populations will be far too high.

And if that was not enough, these animals, born in second, third and fourth generation under human care, have never learned to hunt their prey. The only known experience of liberating an orca that was born wild and kept 20 years under human care (Keiko) demonstrated that it is not possible for them to recuperate the ability to hunt for their own food; and this, even though Keiko had not been born under human care. The adaptation of animals that have lived several generations under human care would be even more difficult.

Also the health authorities would not allow a reintroduction into the sea because of the possibility to liberate at the same time bacteria, fungi, and parasites which have been treated with medicines and could cause severe epidemics in wild populations of dolphins and whales.

The best evidence of the impossibility to re-adapt zoo-housed killer whales to the sea is the reintroduction of Keiko (the protagonist of the film “Free Willy”). After more than three years of preparation and 20 million dollars spent, the only result was the sacrifice of a beautiful animal that was incapable of hunting for itself. But it seems that neither PETA nor Born Free Foundation or Free Morgan Foundation have learned anything from the death of Keiko and keep on presenting the liberation as an ideal solution.

2.- Would the orcas welfare status improve if they are transferred to a sanctuary?

In this case the answer also is no. It is very naive to think that orcas, that have lived various generations in zoological facilities, will automatically swim longer distances for the mere fact of having more space. The reality is that the orcas would have to be kept exactly the same way as in zoological institutions, with trainers that motivate them to swim and jump in order to release their energy, a team of veterinarians that can obtain blood, urine, stool and blowhole samples (which can only be achieved with training) to guarantee their health.

For the same reasons of genetic contamination and the possible epidemic infections earlier mentioned, no government will allow the construction of a sanctuary in its waters since this would put the wild populations of dolphins and whales in high danger. The possibility of an accidental or deliberate escape of the animals from a sanctuary is very high, the same as the transmission of illness and infections through the water that will be exchanged with seawater without purification. There is a famous precedent of an intentional liberation of two dolphins from a sanctuary, of which one died and the other one ended up with severe damage since neither of them was able to hunt fish to feed themselves. The author of this liberation, Rick O’Barry, was sentenced for animal abuse breaking the Marine Mammal Protection Act of the USA.

In case of oil spills or other naval accidents or simply by the general plastic pollution, the animals would be in great risk of contamination.

In case of storms the animals would be at risk of drowning if the nets of the enclosure broke or simply that big waves in the bay would push them to land. Therefore, the sanctuary will need to have an emergency system which in practice means to build a pool with its filtration system, water control, etc.

The dietary necessities of the orcas would be the same as in the zoological facility. That means that they have to be offered 8 to 9 feedings which represent more than 300kg of highest quality fish daily. It is not possible to find this amount of live fish in a small bay and if live fish gets thrown in, it would escape through the holes of the nets. Therefore, the feeding in a sanctuary would also have to be based on frozen fish.

A group of 6 of these big animals produces approximately 54,000kg of excrement a year; this means that very strong tidal current would be needed to keep the bay clean. But the tides could have a negative impact on the animals as well as the nets and moorings used to close the bay.

To keep an orca costs approximately 600,000 US$ a year which means that a sanctuary needs to generate a minimum of 3.6 million dollars yearly for at least 40 to 50 years to come. Taking into consideration the difficulties that dog and cat shelters have nowadays to maintain their very inferior costs, it might very well be possible that these costs, in a few years, will have to be paid by the taxes of all citizens.

All these arguments leave it very clear that neither the reintroduction into the sea nor the transfer into a sanctuary are viable options for orcas born under human care like the ones at Loro Parque. But what about Morgan? She has not been born under human care. This is true and, as has been explained, Morgan arrived to Loro Parque because she was rescued,which saved her life, and because of a petition from the Dutch Authorities so that they didn’t have to euthanize her. This means that thanks to Loro Parque her life was saved twice.

With the arrival of Morgan to our installations, we were very aware of three things:

  • Our interference was necessary in order to save the life of an animal.
  • Our maintenance cost would increase by US$ 600,000 per year.
  • Morgan would not bring one customer more to Loro Parque.

But as on many previous occasions, Loro Parque has highlighted the fact that there was an animal in need. This is why we have received Morgan and welcomed her not only with professionalism but most of all with tremendous love and respect towards an animal with a big history of suffering.

However, and unexpected by us, the arrival of Morgan also unchained the criticisms of the activists and their false arguments, as for example, that her family awaits her in the sea (although her pod had never been located) when the most likely was that her family had left her behind because of a sensory deficiency. This hearing deficit, which was not diagnosed until several months after of her arrival to our facilities, might have been the reason why, applying the maxim of “only the strong survive”, her family separated from her, an animal that cannot help in the survival of the group.

When Morgan’s trainers started to suspect that she was deaf, Loro Parque contacted the highest experts in cetacean acoustics, Dr. Houser, Dr. Luke and Dr. Finneran of the National Marine Mammal Foundation, IMARES and the US Navy respectively. They demonstrated the complete lack of hearing of Morgan and published their results in a scientific journal.

Therefore, the liberation of Morgan into the sea would be her death penalty because, besides that she has never learned how to hunt (like the other orcas in the group), her hearing deficit would not allow her to find prey since it implies that her sonar does not function. Also her communication problems would not allow her to coordinate herself with other orcas in order to hunt and orcas like Morgan are not able to feed themselves.

In conclusion, if PETA or Born Free Foundation would achieve their objective, to take the orcas from Loro Parque to a sanctuary or to liberate, they would only provoke their sure death.

EAAM Statement on Thomas Cook Announcement

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Source: http://www.loroparque.com/press/en/component/k2/item/download/5_ccaba4f0bd37d6db06186dbaee9f7e34

EAAM, European Association for Aquatic mammals, is deeply concern about the announcement of the Thomas Cook Travel Company that, from the summer 2019, will stop selling trips to Zoological parks that keep killer whales. The Zoological Facilities affected are SeaWorld, in Florida, and Loro Parque in Tenerife.

The chief executive of the Holiday Giant, Peter Fankhauser said “This was not a decision we took lightly” acknowledging that both parks had met standards and had made improvements to how animals were kept, however he added, “… more than 90% of our customers were concerned about animal welfare… and when so many of our customers are so clear in their view, I could not allow our business to ignore them”.

However the Travel Company lacked to explain correctly to their customers that Animal Welfare Standards in these Parks , like for the other Zoological Parks members of numerous Associations like EAAM (European Association for Aquatic mammals, EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria), WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums), AMMPA (Alliance of Marine Mammals Parks and Aquariums) provide outstanding animal welfare to their marine mammals certified by a strict Accreditation process. Besisdes some of these Zoological Parks received also the ‘Humane Conservation’ certification of Animal Welfare as a result of independent worldwide Zoological expert’s inspection, Loro Parque is one of these Zoological facilities.

Thomas Cook Company also failed to evaluate the large impact in terms of in situ projects and direct conservation support that these Zoological parks give every year to the Nature conservation and wild animals protection.

EAAM with all its members provides a huge support in terms of money, professionals, know-how and experience at service of the Nature, only Loro Parque contributed until now with more than $19 million to over 150 conservation projects globally.

In addition, a fundamental positive impact on Nature presevation and conservation is possible only by educating and sensitizing people, performing Conservation Education activities and engaging experiences that increase awareness and empowerment in millions of adults and child that visit Zoos and Marine Parks.

Millions of UK and of worldwide guests had visited these parks and they have seen first-hand the incredible care provided to all animals hosted and learned about how it is possible to protect and save species in the wild.

The WAZA Chief Executive Officer Doug Cress highlight “Thomas Cook focused on orcas but overlooked the ongoing efforts to protect marine species around the world. Those programs that rescue pilot whales or save sea turtles are funded by tourist revenue. Thomas Cook sold its clients only a fraction of the true story, and could undermine essential conservation work as a result.”

Joining to the WAZA Chief Executive Officer message, the EAAM President Elect Renato Lenzi, invite the Thomas Cook Agency to carefully and responsible re-consider its decision and let their consumers take park in the effort to protect our natural heritage continuing to include marine parks in its travel packages.