Loro Parque welcomes a new Jaguar

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A new female Jaguar, called Naya, has arrived in Loro Parque to stay. This specimen of Panthera onca has now passed the period of adaptation to her new home and to her new companion Gulliver, and for several weeks the couple has been observed together in their outdoor facilities in the Parque.

Naya belongs to a breeding programme within the European Endangered Species Programme (EPP), to which zoos linked to the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) are associated. She has thus come to Loro Parque from Martinique in the Caribbean with the aim of being able to reproduce.

The Jaguar is the largest feline in South America and the third largest in the world, after Tigers and Lions. Within its range, it’s the animal at the top of the food chain, and can live in habitats as different as the Amazon rainforest or the dry steppes of southern South America.

In nature, it feeds on a variety of live prey, from fish to large mammals and even small Caymans. In addition, it’s known to have the strongest jaws within the feline group. In general, with the exception of breeding and reproduction periods, it’s a solitary animal.

Panthera onca is a species categorised as Near Threatened on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and one of the greatest dangers it faces is the high rates of deforestation in Latin America. The fragmentation of their habitats isolates them and makes them more vulnerable to human persecution.

The commercial hunting of Jaguars for their skins has decreased drastically since the mid-1970s thanks to anti-fur campaigns and the progressive control and closure of international markets. However, there is still a demand for their feet, teeth and other products.

Loro Parque, as a wildlife conservation centre, thus consolidates its commitment to the protection of nature and different species, which makes it an authentic embassy for wild animals.

The Loro Parque’s World Population Clock breaks the 7,700 million barrier

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Loro Parque’s World Population Clock, based on estimates by the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs, has this week reached the historic figure of 7,700 million people. According to this population growth trend, by 2023 there will be more than 8,000 million people and 10,000 million by 2056. Meaning that there are more and more inhabitants, but also more endangered species.

The Loro Parque Foundation warns that the enormous pressure of the growing population is driving animals out of their habitats. For example, it’s estimated that in Africa, before the Europeans arrived, there could have been over 29 million elephants. However, as early as 1935, the population had dropped to 10 million and now stands at less than 440,000, according to a 2012 study conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

This same scenario happened with the blue whales, whose population in Antarctica passed, in less than a century, from 340,000 to just over 1,000 specimens. Fortunately, thanks to international protection, the population of this species is slowly recovering. However, some cetaceans such as the Mexican Vaquita or Gulf porpoise have not been able to improve their numbers and are on the verge of extinction with less than 50 specimens registered.

At this point in time, United Nations estimates show that 57 per cent of the world’s population already lives in cities, far from contact with nature and animals. In addition, it’s estimated that by 2050 that percentage will have exceeded 80 per cent, making contact with nature even scarcer, with many people never having the opportunity to bond with wild animals.

Asia is the most populous continent on the planet, with 4,478 million people and a density of 144 people per square kilometre, followed by Africa with 1,246 million and Europe with 739 million. Population densities in Europe and the Americas do not exceed 30 people per square kilometre, yet the enormous amount of infrastructure and agricultural use have fragmented and reduced natural habitats.

This problem of overpopulation affects all individuals, as resource depletion, deforestation and pollution are just a sample of the consequences that affect everyone.

For this reason, the role of wildlife conservation centres such as Loro Parque is more important than ever – necessary to maintain living contact between animals and the public. Therefore, the mission of modern zoos is to fight to preserve endangered species, work to increase scientific knowledge about animal species to protect them, and seek to inspire love and protection of the animals in all their visitors. Thus, in an increasingly populated and urban world, zoos are the embassy of animals and nature.

Loro Parque is honoured for over 15 years of collaboration with the Haemophilia Association

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Loro Parque was honoured, this Wednesday April 24, by the Association of Hemophilia (Ahete), in the XIII Canary Islands Hemophilia ‘Marcos Gutierrez’ Awards ceremony.

The Company was unanimously chosen to receive the award in the business category for its over 15 years of collaboration with the various activities carried out by this non-profit association specialising in the large haemophilia family. Over the years, the Parque has helped Ahete through its mission of social integration and improving the quality of life of those affected by haemophilia or other congenital, carrier and family coagulopathies in the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

The event held in commemoration of World Haemophilia Day on April 17 was attended by the president of Loro Parque Wolfgang Kiessling who received this distinction at a ceremony held in the Salon Noble of the Tenerife Cabildo building.

Through these collaborations with non-profit associations, Loro Parque, recognised as the best zoo in the world, strengthens its commitment to Canarian society.  In this case, the company has supported the development and improvement of the quality of life of many people via different sponsorships and initiatives for over 15 years.

Business excellence

The trajectory of Loro Parque has been recognised on many occasions.  It is one of the most respected zoological institutions in the world for its exceptional beauty, the excellence of its facilities and its respect for nature.  The Parque has been distinguished for two consecutive years as the best on the planet, according to TripAdvisor users.  This is because with almost 50 million visitors who have visited its facilities since its opening in 1972, the Parque continues in its firm commitment to the protection of different species, through a wide variety of projects in which The Loro Parque Foundation also participates.

The Loro Parque Foundation teaches students the importance of the Canaries as a marine biodiversity hotspot

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The Loro Parque Foundation, through its Department of Education, organised a boat excursion for students of IES Tomás de Iriarte to show them how the Canary Islands is a hot spot of marine biodiversity, with special attention to cetaceans.

An initial session was held at the Educational Centre in which the geographical and oceanographic characteristics of the archipelago that make it a privileged place for marine life were detailed.  Through various activities and games, the students were shown some of the most characteristic species of the Canary Islands.  We also talked about the species of cetaceans that frequent our coasts and we worked with dichotomous keys to learn how to identify them according to their physical characteristics.  The importance of studying their sounds as a tool for scientific research was also discussed.

Once this session was over, the second part of the activity was carried out – a boat trip from the south of Tenerife to put into practice what had been learnt in the Centre.  In the boat, the students were able to identify the species they encountered during the tour and analysed different human activities that can harm marine life, such as waste, noise pollution, irresponsible sighting activities or maritime traffic, among others.

This activity, which arose from collaboration between the educational centre and the company Freebird, aims to help students discover the biodiversity of the coasts and the importance of taking care of it.  In addition, it has allowed schoolchildren to observe first hand the real application of scientific research for conservation, with the hope of promoting their interest in science and the study of nature.

With actions like these, which are carried out continuously, The Loro Parque Foundation reinforces its commitment to education and highlights its essential role as a conservation tool.

Cetacean biodiversity and their study

This trip was also attended by the Bioacoustics research group of the University of La Laguna, who tested a new technology that can be used in autonomous marine vehicles and buoys for acoustic monitoring of cetaceans in the Canary Islands.

Using this technology it’s hoped that it will be possible to determine the areas frequented by these animals and the activities they carry out there and in the future, it’s hoped that this technology can also be applied in the rest of Macaronesia.

These technological advances are based on more than 10 years of work with Loro Parque’s Ocean Orca system and will be applied to the ‘CanBio’ project which is co-financed by the Foundation and the Canary Islands Government to the tune of two million dollars over four years, and which studies the effects of climate change on the sea and on the marine biodiversity of the Canary Islands and the rest of Macaronesia.

Study shows zoos and aquariums dramatically increase information needed to help save species

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The Species Knowledge Index maps what we know for 32,411 known species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians – in this case, with an eightfold gain after adding data from the Zoological Information Management System curated by 1200 zoos and aquariums worldwide. Credit: Species360 Conservation Science Alliance.

Despite volumes of data currently available on mankind, it is surprising how little we know about other species. A paper published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) confirms that critical information, such as fertility and survival rates, is missing from global data for more than 98 percent of known species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

It’s a gap with far-reaching implications for conservationists seeking to blunt the impact of the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event. Scientists working worldwide on behalf of IUCN Red List, IUCN Species Survival Commission, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES), TRAFFIC, Monitor, and others, require demographic data to assess species populations and intervene where needed.

“It seems inconceivable. Yet scientists tasked with saving species often have to power through with best-guess assumptions that we hope approximate reality,” said lead researcher and Species360 Conservation Science Alliance director Dalia A. Conde.

A multidisciplinary team led by researchers from the Interdisciplinary Center on Population Dynamics (CPop), Oxford, the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, the University of Southern Denmark, San Diego Zoo Global, and Species360 Conservation Science Alliance, with participants from 19 institutions, believes we can substantially increase what we know about species population dynamics by applying new analytics to data that has been long overlooked.

Predicting when species are at risk, and how best to bolster diversity and numbers, requires knowing at what age females reproduce, how many hatchlings or juveniles survive to adolescence, and how long adults live. To understand what data are currently available, and to measure the void, researchers developed a Species Knowledge Index (SKI) that classifies available demographic information for 32,144 known species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

“The demographic knowledge of species index provides significant information that, in conjunction with genetic data, allows estimations of events that affect population viability. Severe population declines, sometimes called genetic bottlenecks, influence the sustainability of populations, as we have found in studying endangered rhinos,” said Oliver Ryder, Ph.D., Director of Conservation Genetics, San Diego Zoo Global.

Turning first to go-to global sources of information, the index registers comprehensive birth and death rates for just 1.3 percent of these major classes of species. The map, which illustrates demographic knowledge for individual species, shows that many remain blank.

A map of demographic data for (4) major classes of species – mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians – is largely blank. Credit: Species360

That changed when researchers added data from a previously untapped source, the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS). Across classes of species, key blanks fill with salient data.

“Adding ZIMS was like turning on the lights in an otherwise very dim room,” said Conde. “Class by class, from mammals through amphibians, we saw large gaps fill with fundamental data needed to help conservationists assess populations and advocate for threatened, endangered, and vulnerable species.”

Incorporating ZIMS boosted the Species Knowledge Index eightfold for comprehensive life table information used to assess populations. Information on the age of first reproduction for females, a key piece to estimating how a population will fair in coming years, grew as much as 73 percent.

ZIMS is curated by wildlife professionals working within zoos, aquariums, refuge, research, and education centers in 97 countries. It is maintained by Species360, a non-profit member-driven organization that facilitates information sharing among its nearly 1,200 institutional members, and is the world’s largest set of wildlife data.

The study, “Data gaps and opportunities for comparative and conservation biology,” suggests a value far beyond the data itself. As Conservation Science Alliance and other researchers apply analytics to data aggregated across global sources, including ZIMS, they glean insights that impact outcomes for species in danger of extinction. Moreover, this can provide key insights for comparative and evolutionary biology, such as understanding the evolution of aging.

The team of 33 scientists including data analysts, biologists, and population dynamics specialists developed the first Species Knowledge Index to map just how much we know about species worldwide. The index aggregates, analyzes and maps data from 22 databases and the IUCN Red List of Threatened species.

Demographic Species Knowledge Index

A multidisciplinary team of 33 scientist including data analysts, biologists, and population dynamics researchers developed the Species Knowledge Index to map just how much we know about species worldwide. The first, the Demographic Species Knowledge Index, aggregates, analyzes and maps data from 22 databases and the IUCN Red List Red List of Threatened species.

New defeat for Free Morgan Foundation in the European Parliament

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Recently, the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament closed, definitively, the petition initiated by Mathew Spiegel and Ingrid Visser (Free Morgan Foundation), with which they tried to prove that the CITES permit of the orca Morgan was being used incorrectly.

In 2015, the Free Morgan Foundation (FMF) began an action by sending letters to different CITES authorities accusing Loro Parque and its experts of ignoring the law or breaking it voluntarily.  According to the FMF, Morgan’s CITES permit had been issued for scientific use and that prevented any other use of Morgan – educational, reproductive, etc.  When the Free Morgan Foundation began to receive letters from the various CITES authorities saying that they were wrong and that Loro Parque was correctly interpreting the CITES permit, instead of acknowledging its error, it chose to hide those responses and continue its reckless campaign.  The response from the Spanish CITES authority was very clear and surely that is why they kept it hidden “There is no limitation on breeding for Morgan”.

In the Netherlands, the FMF were insistent with the Dutch CITES authorities after they rejected its interpretation on two occasions.  So in 2017, it decided to initiate an administrative dispute against the Dutch government.  Last year, the Dutch judiciary told the FMF again that it was wrong and, instead of admitting that they were wrong, they appealed the ruling, so there will be an appeal hearing at the end of May this year.

But the Free Morgan Foundation’s obsession went further, and in 2018 they petitioned the European Parliament to change the CITES forms used throughout the European Union, arguing that Morgan’s case proved that they did not conform to the rules.  As early as June last year, the European Commission replied that this request was unfounded and that there were no reasons to change the form, as it complied with CITES regulations.  However, unfortunately, a lack of quorum in the Commission meant that the petition remained open and more information was requested from both CITES Spain and the European Commission.

The reply sent by the Spanish CITES authority to the Committee on Petitions was overwhelming: in relation to Morgan’s legal situation “No incorrectness has been detected either in the content of the certificate or in the application of Regulation (EC) 338/97”.  And further, “Loro Parque meets the requirements of both adequate facilities for the maintenance of the specimen and the conditions indicated in the certificate of community use”.  As for the European Commission’s reply, it was equally forceful “The petitioners say that Morgan’s case is only an example to illustrate more general problems with the certificate … but they have not provided evidence of any other case”.  They conclude “The petitioners have not provided any evidence of significant structural problems in the application of the rules in force”.