Loro Parque contributes to the description, for the first time, of the process of orca reconciliation

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A study conducted with the orcas of Loro Parque and published in the journal Zoo Biology has managed to explain the process of reconciliation after a social conflict of this species.  This is the first time that this behaviour has been described for science.

In order to achieve this, the researchers have carried out a detailed analysis of the social relations shown by the orcas and their tendency to reconciliation after their rare episodes of conflict, which represent less than one per cent of all the behaviour patterns displayed by these animals.

Among the documented behaviours, the curious bonding pattern described as the “soft tongue bite” stands out, whereby the tip of the tongue is delicately pinched using the teeth, but without biting.  Affiliation interactions between a specific pair of orcas occurred with a significantly higher frequency than expected by chance, indicating a particular affinity between some individuals.

Research on the social behaviour of these cetaceans helps to improve the understanding of interactions in animals living under human care and favours better management of the groups.

Thus, Loro Parque consolidates itself as a study platform to promote the knowledge and improvement of the lives of animals and this work is just one more example of its participation in the advancement of science for the conservation of the marine environment.

Loro Parque and the Tenerife Cabildo remind people of the importance of the geographer Alexander von Humboldt

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Loro Parque and the Tenerife Cabildo carried out yesterday afternoon, Thursday June 13, a series of conferences on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Alexander von Humboldt.  The conferences, held at the world’s best zoo, extolled the figure of this scientist who is considered to be the Father of modern universal geography.

The acting Cabildo Councillor for External Action Delia Herrera, thanked the Humboldt Cultural Association and Loro Parque for their collaboration in organising the events and explained that, in order to raise awareness of the scientist, various events have been prepared, as well as other activities with schoolchildren, in which the Island’s Department of Museums has also collaborated.

During the day, the first to take the floor was the Emeritus Professor of the University of Navarra Luis Herrera, with the lecture Alexander von Humboldt: from Tenerife to the New World, The Humboldt penguin and other eponyms.  Following this, Fátima Hernández, PhD in Biology from the University of La Laguna, gave her talk entitled Alexander von Humboldt and artists’ convergent visions of nature.

Subsequently, Isidoro Sánchez, President of the Humboldt Cultural Association in the Canary Islands, spoke about the visit of this scientist to the island.  Finally, the day closed with the presentation of a work by the artist Alejandro Tosco, created especially for the occasion.

The programme of events continues today, Friday June 14, at the facilities of the Museum of Nature and Archaeology (MUNA) with a workshop aimed at children on the recognition of marine silhouettes, an activity that will include the species baptised as the Humboldt penguin.  It’s also planned that these activities held on the Island will be joined by other actions next September in Ecuador.  Specifically, a talk and the painting exhibition De Sur a Sur (From South to South) has been programmed in the city of Quito, organised in collaboration with the Humboldt Association based in this country.

Commemoration

In addition to the 250th anniversary of Humboldt’s birth in 2019, 160 years have already passed since his death in Berlin (6 May 1859) and 220 years since his visit to the Canary Islands (June 1799), which is why an extensive programme of activities has been organised in Ecuador, Germany and Tenerife around his person.

This programme of cultural events aims not only to reinforce the vision of the Island as an intercontinental platform, but also to raise awareness of environmental sustainable development objectives (SDS) through art.

Loro Parque hosts the annual meeting of the Spanish Veterinary Pathological Anatomy Society

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Loro Parque, recognised as the best zoo in the world according to TripAdvisor, this week hosts the annual meeting of the Spanish Veterinary Pathological Anatomy Society (SEAPV).  The official inauguration took place this morning, Thursday June 13, and was attended by Jesús Manuel Morales, Councillor for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of the Tenerife Cabildo, Valentín Pérez, President of the SEAPV, Antonio Fernández, Director of IUSA, Maria Luisa Fernández, President of the College of Veterinarians of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and Rafael Zamora, Scientific Director of the Loro Parque Foundation.

During this event, which will last until tomorrow, Friday June 14, participants will be able to learn first-hand about the Parque’s work in terms of education and awareness, species conservation and scientific research, in a unique enclave with a wide variety of species and naturalised spaces that invite visitors to discover the wonders of the five continents.

About the annual meeting of the SEAPV

This meeting, which is held annually in different cities linked to Veterinary Pathological Anatomy professionals, aims to encourage contact between these experts, as well as to promote the exchange of teaching and research experiences through the presentation of talks or posters.

Scientific Programme 2019

On this occasion, the scientific programme includes 30 talks and 34 posters.  In addition, there will be a training session dedicated to the pathology of aquatic animals taught by Dr. Judy St. Leger DVM, graduate of the American College of Pathology.  Also noteworthy is the guest speaker José Luis Sáez, who has extensive professional experience as national coordinator of the working groups on brucellosis and tuberculosis of the Department of Health and Environmental Hygiene and Traceability of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

The Loro Parque Foundation celebrates World Oceans Day with a grand plastics cleanup and a release of turtles

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The Loro Parque Foundation has made, this Saturday June 8 and in commemoration of World Oceans Day, a major cleanup of plastics in the area of Playa de Martiánez.  The event was organised in collaboration with the non-profit association Promemar and, in addition, several specimens of turtle that were in the La Tahonilla Wildlife Recovery Centre were returned to the sea.

The recovery of these animals, in addition to being an important achievement in its own right, made it possible to publicise the danger faced by marine biodiversity due to damage caused by human action.  And, through the cleanup project, it was expected that a massive amount of plastic would be recovered.  The day was successful with several dozen volunteers who participated in workshops and games.  In addition, more cleanups of the coasts are planned for the summer, the next one is scheduled for June 15.

With these actions within the framework of World Oceans Day, it’s intended to promote the search for solutions to keep the oceans cleaner and raise awareness among volunteers with different educational activities on the environmental problem faced by the oceans and the different species that inhabit them, with special emphasis on the effects of marine litter.

With all this, Loro Parque is highlighting that the accumulation of plastics in the oceans has a terrible effect on marine biodiversity, because according to United Nations figures: 13,000,000 tons of plastic seep into the ocean each year, causing, among other things, the death of 100,000 marine species annually.  All this makes the role of wildlife conservation centres particularly relevant for the future of generations of species.

For this reason, among so many actions carried out such as the previous cleanup of the Punta Hidalgo coast in May, the Loro Parque Company avoids using single use plastic in its facilities and promotes biodegradable and compostable products that are environmentally responsible.

This cleanup was made possible thanks to the organisers, Promemar and The Loro Parque Foundation, and to the environmental collaborators: Loro Parque, Martínez Cano; Libera, naturaleza sin basura (nature without garbage); Seo Birdlife; Ecoembes, Fonteide; the Tenerife Cabildo, the Island Environmental Department and the Puerto de La Cruz Town Council.

International scientists find evidence on how marine pollution could cause orca infertility

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A scientific study carried out by international experts in cetacean health reveals the first evidence of the harmful effects that contraceptives have on orcas and contributes to understanding how the chemical pollution of the seas affects the reproduction of cetaceans.  The study led by veterinary specialist Doctor Geraldine Lacave and recently presented at the International Congress on Aquatic Animal Medicine held in South Africa, demonstrates the serious damage that chemical toxins cause in regular ovulation cycles, thus affecting the reproduction of this species of cetacean in the long term.

The suspicion that chemical toxins such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) interfere with oestrogen receptors (female sex hormones that regulate reproductive cycles in orcas) and affect the reproduction of marine species dates back in time.  However, it was from the case study of the orca Lulu, stranded in 2017, in Scotland, when the concern for the study of the effect of oestrogens was markedly accentuated, since this female had the highest levels of PCBs found so far and evidence was found that she had never reproduced.

In this regard and in order to investigate the matter, Dr. Lacave analysed more than 57,000 videos of the ovaries of the orcas housed in Loro Parque, Tenerife, obtained during more than 4,500 ultrasounds performed by the veterinarians and trainers of this zoo since 2012.  And it was thanks to access to this information that it has been possible to reconstruct the entire process of ovulation of the orcas. It should be noted that this type of research can only be done with animals in controlled environments such as zoos, as it requires regular access to the animals to be able to perform ultrasounds and follow in detail the entire process of ovulation of the females.

Thanks to this opportunity to carefully analyse the ovulation of orcas, dozens of ovulations have been followed day by day and irregular cycles have been detected (abnormally shortened or lengthened), as well as cycle delays, very long periods without ovulation, follicular cysts and even one ovulation during contraceptive treatment.  Given that this study has been carried out more intensively in the last five years, there is still no information available on the problems that could be caused by long-term contraceptive treatments, but the intensity and variety of the ovulatory problems give reason to suspect that they could be serious.  Since it’s believed that PCBs could block oestrogen receptors in orcas by a mechanism similar to that of contraceptives, these results would explain that even small concentrations of these toxic substances seriously affect the reproductive cycles of the orcas, reducing their fertility.

The most important thing about this scientific finding is that the information studied in the zoo will contribute to the conservation of this species of cetacean in nature, since the knowledge obtained of how oestrogens affect and disturb regular cycles in orcas could help to understand how chemical pollution is affecting the reproduction of the wild populations, not only of orcas, but also of dolphins, and in the future of other species of marine mammals.  This is clear evidence of the role modern zoos play in species conservation.