Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen supports Loro Parque

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Source: http://www.loroparque.com/press/en/component/k2/item/download/7_e03a3c393e275a8df7948bcc8a5c599d

Recently, Thomas Cook, a touristic tour operator, stated that they will not sell tours or tickets of Zoos, keeping Orcas. As reason the impact of keeping those animals on animal welfarewas provided in addition to the change of visitor opinions. This statement has a negative influence on zoos at all, as the statement sentence all zoos keeping orcas, and maybe even more in future. In general, it is a positive sign, that tour operators think about the attractions they sell and implement also quality controls based on scientific evidence which can be measured. This has been done by several tour operators and zoos where accredited. The problem starts, when Zoos, which passed this accreditation, than gets banned by single tour operators without providing further reasons. In public, this might be taken as scientific evidence that either the zoos have not passed this accreditation, or that certain animals cannot be kept in captivity by respecting animal welfare. For the first, this is just a false information with regard to the LoroParque as he passed this accreditation, and for the second there is no scientific evidence that generally the keeping of Orcas in captivity is not possible.

Suffer of animals is difficult to judge. An animal can suffer by organic or mental reasons. In the first case the suffer is usually obvious, in the second case suffer also results in health issues or behavior alterations. If, in the second case mental suffer does not result in health issues, it is not detectable, if even present. For the last no evidence is so far provided and leads just to an emotional discussion which is not scientifically based. This means that only the health of an animal (and physiological parameters) is a measurable tool. Therefore, it is vital that Zoos have their own veterinary departments with experts in their field, exchanging their knowledge worldwide. Here, Loro Parque is an excellent example of state of the art veterinary care. Their vet department involves three veterinarians, which have a long history of zoo animal experience and even free-ranging animal medicine. They are supported by state examined veterinary nurses and educated laboratory staff working in a large in-house laboratory. Many zoos do not have such facilities. The animals are routinely examined and environmental samples are taken, so any alterations in the health or management of the animals are immediately noticed. By providing this and not detecting management related health issues in the animals, there is no evidence that the animals do suffer.

Control of Zoos by specialist are necessary and if zoos fail to meet the state of the art criteria of zoo management, tourist operators may and should implement consequences. But this should be based on the Zoo itself and not on the animals they are keeping by pretending that such animals cannot be kept.

All in all, tour operators should not start to act as judges for animal husbandry and what is possible and what is not. They should implement accreditation systems based on scientific evidence and knowledge developed by experts in Zoo housing systems and veterinarians which are specialists for the different animal groups. In general, such a statement of a tour operator as made by Thomas Cook is unfair for those zoos providing the best care to their animals according to the up to date knowledge which is available at present and does not respect the impact of zoos towards species conservation and nature awareness of the public. The emotional driven discussion, which potentially led to the decision of the tour operator should be placed back on a scientific and evidence based discussion.

The Value of Having Cetaceans in Human Care at Accredited Aquariums and Zoos

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Source: https://www.aza.org/from-the-desk-of-dan-ashe/posts/the-value-of-having-cetaceans-in-human-care-at-accredited-aquariums-and-zoos

I’ve spent my entire 37-year career in the field of conservation. I can count many accomplishments, but few make me prouder than those opportunities when I’ve been able to support the protection of places, great and small, but especially the areas that stand apart as ecosystems unto themselves — like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. These are amazing places, increasingly rare in a world where human populations are continuing to expand in numbers and affluence. They are increasingly hard to protect, as illustrated in our government’s current headlong rush to allow oil developers into the Arctic Refuge’s coastal plain; its biological heart.

If we are going to protect these great places, providing homes for the creatures, great and small, that depend upon them, we must nurture a public that sees the protection of these places as relevant and essential. This is challenging in a world where people are rapidly evolving into urban and indoor creatures. Here in the US, 82% live in and around cities, and we spend 93% of our time indoors. Will we spend our time and money and cast our votes to support conservation of wildlife and places from which we are increasingly disconnected? Unfortunately, growing evidence seems to indicate the answer is “No.”

We need to do better.

A bright spot – and an opportunity to create more engaged, aware and actively conservation-minded citizens – is the community of purposeful, mission-driven, zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). More than 200 million guests will visit AZA members in the coming year. Yes, they will have fun! Moreover, they will leave with a better understanding, empathy, and inspiration for the animals they see and the need to protect their wild brethren and their homes.

There is controversy about keeping animals in human-care — some like to say, “captivity.” That controversy is sharpest around animals that are large, social, emotional, and highly mobile, like elephants, great apes, and cetaceans (especially whales, dolphins and porpoises). However, humans are tactile animals, meaning we connect with things we can see, smell, touch, and sense. That’s as true for dolphins and whales, as it is for tigers, tortoises, or tadpoles.

It is also why I stand squarely with AZA’s accredited members caring for cetaceans. Sure, it’s amazing to see wild dolphins or killer whales, but most people will never have that opportunity. And honestly, we don’t want 7.5 billion people rushing out into nature to watch whales and dolphins. And they don’t have to, because they can see them in responsibly-managed facilities, like SeaWorld, Georgia Aquarium, Shedd Aquarium, and Texas State Aquarium, where they receive exceptional care, while also serving as amazing ambassadors for wild nature.

Recently, there has been an increase in the debate over the importance and value of having these animals in human care and on display. Cetaceans have been in the care of AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos for more than 50 years. During that time, we have made great strides in understanding the natural history, reproduction, care and behavior of these incredible animals. In turn, these facilities work hand-in-hand with government, non-profits, and other partners to advance ocean conservation and research projects to benefit these animals in the wild.

Most certainly, we must provide the very best standard of care. We must be dedicated to continual improvement. And at AZA, we are. If you have any doubt, the best way to judge is to see it for yourself. Visit! Talk to a keeper or trainer or aquarist. Ask them hard questions. I’m confident that they will have good answers for you. Answers that address the care they provide, and answers about the benefits of sharing these animals with their guests.

At a time when we need to be uniting to help save these magnificent creatures, we seem to be dividing ourselves.

It was disappointing last week when the British travel agency, Thomas Cook, announced that beginning in 2019 they would no longer sell tickets to SeaWorld. SeaWorld is a member and leader in the AZA community, and a long-time and established leader in marine mammal care, conservation, research, and rescue. Thomas Cook’s decision came on the heels of SeaWorld receiving a 100% passing score, based on the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism. So, SeaWorld met their animal welfare standards, and Thomas Cook is penalizing them nonetheless.

If you want to see a more responsible travel agency position, take a look at the animal welfare policy of Attraction Tickets Direct (ATD), which is also an ABTA member: https://www.attraction-tickets-direct.co.uk/animal-welfare

ATD actually follows the ABTA welfare assessment standards and also recognizes the value of rigorous accreditations, like AZA’s.

Previous to joining AZA, I served as Director of the world’s largest wildlife conservation organization — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I know how people would react if I acted like Thomas Cook did with SeaWorld, ignoring science and standards, and instead, making an arbitrary and intolerant decision. They would be outraged!

Today, our world is too full with intolerance and outrage, so I simply would ask that Thomas Cook revisit their decision. If you think SeaWorld can do more and better, try a novel approach — ask them.

Trying to punish them economically may feel righteous, but it will target the thing that most needs our help — wild marine mammals. We need a connection to nature and inspiration to save it; we get that when we visit places like SeaWorld. We need great institutions — government, non-profit and for-profit — with cultures of service and social responsibility; SeaWorld has a proven record. We need concerned citizens to unite; there are too few of us; let’s not divide and conquer ourselves.

Thomas Cook, you made the wrong choice! Please reconsider. Let’s join together and help create a world where all people respect, value and conserve wildlife and wild places. That’s our vision!

Loro Parque: Thomas Cook influenced by activists seeking to destroy zoos

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Source: https://www.efeverde.com/noticias/destruir-actividad-de-conservacion-zoos-loro-parque-thomas-cook/

The decision by British Tour Operator Thomas Cook to stop selling tickets for attractions with orcas is clearly influenced by activists who are not concerned about animals but about destroying zoos and their conservation activities, warned the Loro Parque Foundation today.

The Director of the Loro Parque Foundation, Javier Almunia, made this statement to EFE after Thomas Cook announced on July 29 its intention, starting this summer, to stop selling tickets for attractions that show orcas in captivity, such as at the Tenerife zoo.

In this regard, Loro Parque expresses its gratitude to the over a million visitors who have visited its facilities with Thomas Cook over the past 45 years “during which we have not received a single complaint from even one of them regarding the welfare of our animals”.

Thomas Cook argues that its decision is based on scientific evidence but does not provide any, and argues that 90 per cent of its clients are concerned about animal welfare, which does not mean that they have expressed concern about the orcas housed at Loro Parque.

In fact, as Javier Almunia points out, in April 2017 Global Spirit, a company linked to the Born Free Foundation, inspected Loro Parque at the request of Thomas Cook to determine compliance of its facilities and procedures with the animal welfare standards of the British Travel Agents Association (ABTA).

The inspection obtained the highest score (100 per cent compliance), which ensures that not only the orcas, but all the animals in Loro Parque “have the best welfare conditions under the strict regulations” of ABTA, so Thomas Cook’s decision “not only diminishes the value of this inspection, but also goes against ABTA’s animal welfare standards, which are the most stringent in the world”.

At Loro Parque “one hundred percent of our members of staff” are concerned about animal welfare “and we are proud to work every day to give all the animals under our care the greatest love and respect” added the Director of the Loro Parque Foundation.

That’s why Loro Parque has obtained the highest marks, not only from Global Spirit, but also from American Humane, TÜV, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, the Iberian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the European Association of Aquatic Mammals and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums.

Javier Almunia underlines that this is clear proof of excellence in animal care and this is the main reason why Loro Parque has also been awarded the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice award as the World’s Best Zoo.

“There’s no doubt that many of the visitors who voted to award this prize to Loro Parque were clients of Thomas Cook” continued the Director of the Foundation, who affirmed that the entity is the most decorated zoo in the world and in Spain has received the highest distinction that any company can receive: the Prince Felipe Award for Business Excellence.

Loro Parque more than meets the most demanding animal welfare standards, which has been certified, as has the handling and care of their orcas, with which it does “exceptional” work.

In fact, Loro Parque Foundation is working with animal welfare experts at the University of Barcelona to develop a framework for measuring this factor “in close detail” in orcas, so that daily or seasonal variations that may occur due to differences in sexual or group behaviour can be measured more accurately.

Javier Almunia also points out that since the Loro Parque Foundation was founded in 1994, it has invested so far more than 19 million dollars in more than 150 conservation projects around the world. As a result, nine species of parrot have been saved from extinction and many others have improved their populations in the wild.

Thomas Cook’s decision “will not change our determination to continue working for the welfare of every animal in this world” and for the conservation of biodiversity on a planet threatened by the ‘sixth extinction’, as has been scientifically proved.

He also believes that, with 700 million visitors to zoos around the world, it’s clear that a visit to the zoo is a highly demanded activity which, in the light of the destruction of our nature and the environment, will become an absolute ‘must’ in the future.

“Fortunately, Loro Parque welcomes more visitors than ever before and even without Thomas Cook’s help, it will continue to offer everyone a unique opportunity to learn about the wonders of wildlife and be part of our mission: to protect and preserve animals and their natural habitats for future generations,” he confirmed.

Open Letter from AMMPA & IMATA to Thomas Cook

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Original source: 180802AMMPA_IMATAThomasCookLetter

Dear Dr. Frankhauser,

We are writing on behalf the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums (AMMPA) and the International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association (IMATA) to urge Thomas Cook Group to reconsider its decision to stop selling tickets to SeaWorld Orlando and Spain’s Loro Parque because of their care for and public display of killer whales in their world-renowned institutions.

Our request is based on science, research and facts verified by the Alliance, which is the preeminent trade association and accrediting body for zoos, aquariums, and marine parks throughout the world that exhibit marine mammals. The Alliance supports the highest standards of care for marine mammals and contributes to their conservation in the wild through public education, scientific research, and the rescue and rehabilitation of sick and injured animals in the wild. Our accredited institutions in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean—including SeaWorld Orlando and Loro Parque—collectively possess the largest body of marine mammal experience and expertise in the world.

As one of the oldest and largest animal training organizations in the world, IMATA is dedicated to advancing the humane care and handling of marine animals by fostering communication and sharing best practices among individual professionals through training, public display, research, husbandry, conservation, and public education. IMATA members utilize the most advanced and responsible management techniques benefiting the marine animals in their care to ensure the public’s experience with these animals fosters emotional and personal connections that promote conservation of our marine environments and respect for marine species.

While we share Thomas Cook’s desire to ensure animal welfare in tourism, it is disappointing that your company is ignoring the fact that both institutions exceed the highest animal care standards in the world and are leading contributors to education, conservation and research efforts to conserve killer whales and other marine mammals in the wild. SeaWorld and Loro Parque are also leaders in marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation and provide an important connection between people and daily work to protect marine life. This work is exactly what your customers said they desire when they report they want you to “take animal welfare seriously.”

Do not deny your customers the choice to see for themselves all that SeaWorld and Loro Parque are doing for animals globally to ensure animal welfare. Let them experience firsthand how inspiring and often transformational it is to see marine animals up close and in a safe, educational environment that is positive for people and for animals. This is what makes accredited marine parks so critical in the global efforts to protect marine mammals and the oceans.

SeaWorld has rescued more than 31,000 animals in the past five decades through its SeaWorld Cares program and provides funding and professional expertise to important animal and habitat conservation projects around the world. As part of its $10 million commitment to killer whale conservation, SeaWorld has helped fund a breakthrough nutritional assessment of Northern Resident killer whales and has done work on killer whale milk composition to understand their nutritional requirements and pregnancy and lactation to understand how killer whales metabolize toxins in their environment.

Loro Parque continuously receives awards of excellence and the highest ratings from visitors who recognize the institution’s commitment to marine mammals. Loro Parque also makes important contributions to conservation and research projects throughout the world. Since 2011, Loro Parque has funded or participated in research projects with orcas focused on bioacoustics, genetics, physiology, ethology, biotracking and biometrics. They are also participating in a project to evaluate the effects of realistic pollutant exposure on in vitro immune function in killer whales in order to generate data for a population model of contaminant effects in killer whales. As a result of this scientific work, in the last six years, six scientific papers have been published in peer- reviewed journals (and another three have been submitted), two masters and six diploma theses have been produced, and 11 presentations have been given at international congresses.

Like all Alliance members, SeaWorld Orlando and Loro Parque are mission driven and make animal welfare their top priority. The conservation of animals is what inspires the professionals at these outstanding organizations to dedicate their lives to providing the best care of marine mammals both at their organizations and in the wild. Their dedication and the opportunities they provide the public to connect with and learn more about these amazing animals is what draws millions of visitors to these parks. We understand the pressure animal rights organizations like PETA can bring to bear on a company through endless protests, letter writing and demands, constantly moving the goalposts on their desired action. They targeted Thomas Cook Group, and they will continue to pressure your company and others. However, please don’t confuse customer interest in animal welfare with the radical agenda of animal rights groups that attacked you and that are now taking credit for your decision to end support for organizations that are actually doing significant work to save marine mammals. Contrary to allegations from animal rights organizations, science shows that marine mammals in accredited facilities thrive and live as long as or, in many cases, much longer than their counterparts in the wild. They receive high quality, nutritious food, regular and preventative veterinary care by licensed professionals, and exercise and play in ways that are mentally and physically beneficial. These are facts from the experts who know and care for the animals, not those whose agenda it is to end the public display of all animals.

Again, we urge your company to reconsider its decision to deny your customers the chance to experience SeaWorld and Spain’s Loro Parque marine parks that are leading the work to save marine life.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Dezio

Support for Humane Certified™ Institutions following Travel Operator Decision

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Source: https://www.americanhumane.org/blog/support-for-humane-certified-institutions-following-travel-operator-decision-2/

American Humane, which has worked to protect animals for 141 years and is the largest certifier of animal welfare in the world, stands by Loro Parque and our other Humane Certified™ institutions as they were audited against the independent, gold star standard of animal welfare, backed by science, top animal experts, veterinarians and ethicists.

We can attest to the excellent welfare afforded to the animals at Loro Parque, including the orcas, which are healthy and very well-treated. Fewer than one-half of one percent of zoos, aquariums, and conservation centers in the world have achieved our rigorous certification, which thoroughly verifies the many dimensions of good welfare.

The decision by Thomas Cook is being driven by an animal activist philosophy that seeks to remove animals from our lives, and is not based on science, actual welfare considerations, the good care of the animals we encountered, or the invaluable need for humane conservation and public education that is critical to the survival of so many species with whom we share the Earth.

By taking this action, Thomas Cook has decided to take an unprecedented giant step away from their legacy of providing sound and unbiased guidance to travelers who seek good, safe, and ethical experiences, which will have the unfortunate effect of pushing more remarkable and endangered species closer to the edge of extinction.

Those seeking thrilling and ethical experiences with animals can rest assured they can find and enjoy them at Loro Parque.

EAZA Statement on Recent Thomas Cook Announcement

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Source: EAZA-Statement-on-Recent-Thomas-Cook-Announcement

The travel company, Thomas Cook, recently announced that as of summer 2019 they will no longer sell trips to facilities that care for orcas (Orcinus orca). The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) Accredited Member, Loro Parque, Spain is one such facility that this news affects. Loro Parque has been successfully caring for orcas for over 12 years and has a wealth of experience meeting their welfare and management requirements. Loro Parque passed the rigorous, holistic, EAZA Accreditation that covers Standards on Animal Accommodation and Care, Conservation, Education and Research and, in addition, they recently achieved a 100% rating in a focused animal welfare audit as part of requirements laid down by Thomas Cook. 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.

The announcement by Thomas Cook cites animal welfare as a driver for their decision however, 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. EAZA 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.

EAZA’s Accreditation process and Standards are publicly available as part of our commitment to transparency and professionalism.

Christoph Kiessling at TEDxSOAS – Respect for the environment

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