The Loro Parque aquarium exhibits nine different species of jellyfish Self-reproduced for the first time in Spain

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The Loro Parque aquarium has become the only place in Spain where up to nine different species of jellyfish can be observed in its AquaViva exhibition.  This record has allowed experts to obtain a wide knowledge of the animals and their populations.

This great exhibition has become a valuable tool for research and conservation.  Thus the work of the aquarium team in self-cultivating their own species helps them to know their biological needs and to be able to apply all that knowledge in favour of their preservation.  This cultivation process means that jellyfish are born from the asexual phase from polyps, which is common in the study of these species in research centres and other aquariums around the world.

These invertebrates, which are composed of 95 per cent water, play a very important role in the marine world because they are very necessary to control stocks of plankton (mostly zooplankton) and provide hydration in the diet of migratory predators.

So, despite their ‘bad reputation’, these animals are a great link in the marine food chain.  In fact, these invertebrate organisms are bio-indicators of the health of our oceans and can function as organisms that, by proliferating, deregulate entire ecosystems.

In Loro Parque, visitors can observe and learn about the following nine specimens: Phyllorhiza punctata, Sanderia malayensis, Chrysaora achlyos, Chrysaora colorata, Chrysaora pacifica, Rhizostoma pulmo, Pelagia noctiluca, Phacellophora camtschatica and Aurelia aurita.  In addition, three other new species are already growing in quarantine and it is hoped that they will be able to be observed in the exhibition in the coming months.

The preservation of cetaceans and the sustainable development of the Macaronesian Atlantic Area, are the main objectives of the MARCET II project

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The INTERREG project, known as MARCET, today begins its second stage of activity and launches several scientific and technological research studies that will, over the next three years, allow it to evaluate and analyse the impact of human activity in marine protected areas of the Macaronesian Atlantic, using cetaceans as protagonists, not only because they are considered emblematic species, but also because they are bioindicators of the healthy environmental status of the marine areas where they reside and umbrellas for the protection of the marine ecosystem.  This project will also contribute to the development of environmental and economic sustainability criteria, with special attention to the activity of cetacean observation.

MARCET II is an initiative led by the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, via the University Institute of Animal Health and Food Safety (IUSA-ULPGC) and has the direct participation of fifteen other institutions and organisations from the four Macaronesian archipelagos: PLOCAN, CETECIMA, The Loro Parque Foundation, Tenerife Tourism, CEAMAR, the University of La Laguna (ULL), Madeira’s Baleia Museum and Oceanic Observatory, the Institute of Forests and Conservation of Nature IFCN IP-RAM), the Regional Directorate of Sea Affairs (DRAM), the University of the Azores, Cap Verde’s National Directorate of the Environment, the National Institute of Fisheries Development (INDP), BIOS. CV and the Association of Biologists and Researchers of Cape Verde (ABI-CV).

At the initial working meeting of this second phase, which took place in the Elder Museum of Science and Technology, representatives of all participating entities were present and the inauguration was in the hands of the Director of the University Institute of Animal Health and promoter of the project, Antonio Fernández, accompanied by the Vice-rectors of Research, Innovation and Knowledge Transfer of the Universities of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of La Laguna, José Pablo Suárez Rivero and Ernesto Pereda, respectively.

“The evaluation of the impact generated by human activities on specific marine areas through the environmental, health and oceanographic studies proposed in the MARCET II Project will help to implement actions aimed at the protection and conservation of groups of cetaceans living in these areas and, by extension, of the entire marine ecosystem on which they depend,” said Antonio Fernández, but, above all, he added, “they will be useful in establishing ways to build a model of sustainable economic development and to guarantee a quality of life for all the species that inhabit the Macaronesian region, including human beings”.

For his part, Ernesto Pereda, stressed that “the multidisciplinary approach of the project is the most appropriate way to improve sustainability in the sighting of cetaceans and thus the life of Canarian society” thereby fulfilling the contribution of the transfer of knowledge made by the university.  Along the same lines, his counterpart, Suárez Rivero, stressed the importance of the collaboration between the two Canarian universities, as well as the role of IUSA in the creation of knowledge networks and MARCET II “is exemplary in this sense”, he pointed out.

The first part of the MARCET project, which began in 2017 and has just ended, was created with the aim of transferring and disseminating cutting-edge science and technologies to promote the sustainable development of tourism associated with cetacean sighting, through the creation and implementation of the MARCET Network, an inter-regional and multidisciplinary network that brings together centres specialising in the surveillance and health monitoring of cetaceans and in operational oceanography, with the aim of integrating, harmonising and optimising knowledge, infrastructures and good practices in the region.

Thanks to the use of the now established MARCET Network, the harmonisation of working protocols and their integration to protect and conserve the cetacean populations of Macaronesia from a multidisciplinary point of view, and the knowledge acquired on the current situation of the tourism sector associated with the observation activity of these species in the region, this new initiative, the MARCET II Project, has been created, with the aim of increasing the value of this activity as a model of sustainable economic development in the Macaronesian archipelagos (Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands and Cape Verde), thus strengthening the ecotourism market niche that this activity represents and, at the same time, establishing sustainability criteria applied to the resident cetacean species that serve as a tourist attraction.

To this end, MARCET II is technically structured in three specific objectives, the first, considered key to the establishment of ecological and environmental sustainability criteria, integrates the use of advanced techniques of operational oceanography, as well as the monitoring and sanitary surveillance of cetaceans resident in marine protected areas and of special interest for this ecotourism activity in the Macaronesia, using as the main indicator species the Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and the Pilot Whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus), to evaluate the possible presence of risk factors of anthropogenic origin linked to these marine areas.

The other two objectives are aimed at enhancing the value of cetaceans as a natural heritage and as a differentiated economic resource of special importance for the associated ecotourism sector in the Macaronesian region. In this respect, actions will be carried out to disseminate and raise awareness of the diversity of cetacean species existing in the region, as well as the importance of protecting and conserving the marine areas in which they reside. The third specific objective is to strengthen the entrepreneurial activity of cetacean observation as a model of sustainable economic development in the Macaronesian region.

Loro Parque presents the 2018 Gorilla Award to Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays

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The headquarters of the Presidency of the Government of the Canary Islands this Friday, October 18, hosted the presentation of the prestigious Gorilla 2018 Award to Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays.  The award celebrates its sixteenth anniversary this year and highlights environmental responsibility, taking into account strategies and actions to conserve biodiversity and the sustainable use of resources.

On this occasion, Loro Parque wished to reward the airline’s customer-oriented policy, with its strong commitment to environmental sustainability, as well as recognising Jet2.as the first airline to reduce the use of plastic on board.

More than 200 guests attended the event held in the Assembly Hall of the regional government, including numerous members of the local, island and regional authorities, as well as civilian, military, consular and private sector representatives.

Wolfgang Kiessling, President of Loro Parque, wanted to take the opportunity to highlight Mr. Heapy’s commitment to sustainability in the present environmental situation in the world, where overpopulation is causing irreversible damage to nature and the species that inhabit it.

That is why, over the 25 years of its trajectory, Loro Parque Fundación has invested 21 million U.S. dollars in hundreds of conservation projects all over the world, with multiples successful results, like in case of the nine species of parrots that were saved from their imminent extinction. Mr. Kiessling also emphasized the role of the zoological institutions in this context, adding that if zoological parks did not already exist, they should have been urgently invented.

“Loro Parque is working daily to bring animal world closer to people, so that they could appreciate their beauty, their character, their smell and their behaviour… in order to thus educate and raise awareness among the public about the need protect them,” highlighted the founder of Loro Parque and Loro Parque Fundación.

For his part, Steve Heapy wanted to strengthen his bond with the Canary Islands, which he said the company had supported “in good times and also in bad times.” “We remain faithful to our destinations and work to create a beneficial and sustainable business model for both parties,” added chief executive of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays.

He also wanted to underline his commitment in the fight against plastic, in the same line as Loro Parque. “It was Christoph Kiessling who, many years ago, told me about the large amount of plastic that ends up in the oceans,” he said before detailing the actions that Jet2.com and Jet2holidays have been implementing to help save the planet.

About Steve Heapy and Jet2.com:

Steve Heapy joined Jet2.com in 2009 as Managing Director and Commercial Director.  He previously held senior positions in other industry companies such as My Travel, Thomas Cook and Libra Holidays.  In 2013, he was promoted to CEO as executive director of Jet2.com and the internal tour operator Jet2holidays.

Since its inception, Jet2.com has quadrupled its number of passengers and tripled its flights, positioning itself as a leader in capacity compared to other low-cost airlines. In addition, it has received numerous awards, such as the Bronze Award for ‘Best Tour Operator in the Iberian Peninsula and Canary Islands’ presented by the British Travel Awards in 2010.

Without zoos nothing is going on

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By: TAZ Link:  https://taz.de/Klimawandel-und-Biodiversitaet/!5626458/?goMobile2=1570752000000

Even if we save the climate by 2050, we could still be pretty alone: That’s too late for thousands of animal and plant species.

Hooray, it’s the year 2050 and the climate is saved! Who would have considered this possible three decades ago? That it could actually be possible to contain global warming at 1.5 degrees!

So, everything went all right again? Unfortunately, no. Because for thousands of animal and plant species every help came too late. They are extinct. Where once the Great Barrier Reef off the Australian coast was swarming and sparkling for over 2,300 kilometers as one of the largest hotspots of biodiversity, white limestone skeletons are now standing over long stretches, over which a few starving starfish are crawling.

No surprise: Already in 2019, it was clear that even if the 1.5-degree target was reached, 70 to 90 percent of coral reefs would die, accompanied by the loss of thousands of species.

But it is not only climate change, the activities of humanity as a whole, that have triggered the long feared greatest mass extinction since the end of the dinosaurs. Where once there were species-rich rainforests, today only soybeans grow or nothing grows because erosion has washed away the thin layer of fertile tropical soil. Where once there were wilderness or diverse cultural landscapes, today there are settlements and industrial areas.

Last chance: Zoo

Even in the protected areas, which are already far too small in terms of numbers and surface area, masses of species have disappeared forever: poached like rhinos, elephants and turtles, or like frogs and salamanders dying of a worldwide spreading fungal infection.

In 2050, humanity would have had an answer to many of these problems: population growth has come to a standstill, industrial agriculture has been cut back, meat consumption has been reduced, the amphibian killer mushroom has been defeated, extensive new protected areas have been created and devastated areas have been renatured.

The only thing is that the species that still lived there in 2019 simply no longer exist. Once extinct, they are gone forever. The most beautiful restored biotope is of no use there.

Already in 2019, the situation for global biodiversity was clear and as well scientifically verified as man-made climate change. The World Biodiversity Council IPBES had unmistakably pointed out the imminent catastrophe: An estimated one million species were on the verge of extinction, not at some point, but in the coming decades.

Apart from the fact that in the year of Trump and Bolsonaro the world was far from saving the world – even if everything had been done immediately and without further delay to protect threatened species in their habitats, it would have been too late for many of them.

Yet, back then the biotopes were damaged too much, too fragmented the remaining habitats, too weak and poor in individuals the surviving populations, too polluted the oceans, too widespread free-range cats and introduced bio invaders.

When only about 50 Java rhinos trotted through the jungle, it had long been clear that they had no chance in the wild. The same applied to the last 10 Vaquita pig whales, the last 15 Chilean Loa frogs, the last four Yangtze giant soft tortoises … The only way to preserve these species would have been to breed them under human care.

Lack of a well-founded population management system

But mankind has failed to build such reserve populations. This would have been easily possible. The necessary knowledge and techniques to permanently save endangered species through conservation breeding were available. All that would have been needed was more money and space.

Especially the particularly affected smaller species such as amphibians, reptiles, fish and invertebrates could be bred with comparatively little effort in the aquariums and terrariums of zoos, scientific institutions and dedicated private owners. One would only have had to expand capacities and coordinate owners in order to establish a biologically sound population management.

In many larger animal species, this has long since worked successfully: bison, Przewalski’s horse, common ibis, Arabian oryx antelope, Spix’s macaw, Zhous’s hinged turtle, axolotl – numerous species could initially be saved from extinction by conservation breeding, or their outdoor populations, which were about to disappear, were strengthened by the reintroduction of bred animals. “Only freedom is species-appropriate,” said the animal rights activist.

It went in the right direction – but then everything came differently. Instead of the zoos being expanded, they came under more and more pressure. Instead of involving private owners to strengthen breeding efforts, private keeping of wild animals was banned. “Only freedom is species-appropriate”, chanted animal rights activists, who projected their own emotional life onto other species, although rhino and lemur leaf frog would certainly have shown them the bird in view of the conditions in this alleged freedom – or the Socorro dove, which had already died out in the open in 2019 and could only live on in zoos and with breeders.

Emotion prevailed over knowledge of facts

But it was of no use, feeling triumphed over knowledge of facts: one zoological institution after the other was closed, transformed into reception stations for native field, forest and meadow species or into homes for some cuddly animals.

Now, rows and rows of generously pampered deer are still standing around in extensive grounds, while pampered dogs and cats romp over monstrous luxury playgrounds, where all the animal welfare donations have flowed into instead of using them to preserve endangered species.

Too late. Too late. Now they are extinct. No child will ever marvel at a living elephant, a giraffe or a rhinoceros again, and only half of the eight thousand amphibian species are left.

This mass extinction is not only tragic, because every species is an irreplaceable value in itself – one can justify this ethically, religiously or also only from the observation of the joy, which they donate to the human being.

Any species can be of inestimable use

Every species can also be of inestimable use to humans, but you just don’t know beforehand which one. In 1928, for example, who would have thought that a year later, thanks to an ugly mould, a substance called penicillin would be discovered that would save millions and millions of lives?

The dramatic impact of the disappearance of so many species on global ecosystems can already be felt in 2050. The absence of many natural predators and the sudden release of ecological niches are causing widespread invasive species, harvest pests and disease vectors to spread unchecked.

2051: Outbreak. A new pathogen, deadly for humans, suddenly appears and races around the world. The researchers do not succeed in developing an antidote in time. Bad luck, because that would have happened long ago – like countless other natural substances that slumbered unrecognized in plants and animals around the world.

The active substance that could have saved mankind was stuck in the skin of a small Amazonian frog that had been exterminated sometime around 2040 when one of the last Brazilian pieces of rainforest was burned down. It was still a frequently bred species in terrariums in the 2030s. Before the keeping prohibitions and the zoo-closures.

This has gone really stupid.

2050 – those who want to survive

It’s over by the middle of the century. Planet and humanity have reached the point of no return, an uninhabitable earth leads to the collapse of civilization and international order – if we do not radically change course.

This is what it says in the report published by the Australian think tank Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration.

We want to take this forecast as an opportunity to reflect in a series on what will happen by 2050, what can happen – and what must happen – to avert the disaster.

We want to know how to live your life to doom, and we want to think about a complex and potentially more beautiful future for humanity – one that we are likely to miss

IAAPA Responds to TripAdvisor

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Dear Mr. Kaufer:

On behalf of IAAPA, the global association for the attractions industry, and our more than 6,000 members around the world, we are deeply disappointed and concerned about TripAdvisor’s recent decision to no longer sell tickets to attractions with cetaceans in professional care. The decision does not consider the ongoing and unwavering commitment to the overall welfare, health and care of these animals.

IAAPA has many members around the world with animals in their care. These members are accredited, well-managed facilities that provide up-close and personal experiences for their guests. These amazing experiences help inspire and educate people of all ages so they can develop an appreciation and respect for animals and the natural world.

Zoos, aquariums and facilities with animals provide people with the opportunity to have memorable contact and experiences with the natural world, something especially important for those who live in cities and urban surroundings. Such visits provide once-in-a-lifetime encounters and memories that leave a lasting impression. They help inspire people to act and make efforts to preserve and conserve our natural resources. And all of us at IAAPA believe people should have the opportunity to choose to visit well-managed zoological facilities.

TripAdvisor should also consider that by not supporting well-managed zoological facilities, this policy could have a negative ripple effect on animals in the wild. Zoological facilities conduct valuable research that aid conservation efforts in the wild, provide support for rescued or illegally trafficked animals needing a home and environmental disaster response in their communities and around the world. A visit to a zoo, aquarium or park with animals leaves a lasting impression on the individual and how they view the world around them. IAAPA believes people should have the opportunity to choose to visit well-managed zoological facilities.

We encourage you to consult with global zoo and aquarium associations including the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Each of these organizations is committed to animal welfare and supporting sound decisions and best practices based in science and well-documented research, not opinion.

We also invite you visit and tour any of our member facilities around the world so you can better understand the commitment, care, dedication and importance of their work. We are happy to introduce you and help make the connection at any time.

Please reconsider this short-sighted position that could have a lasting negative impact.

Sincerely, Hal McEvoy President and CEO IAAPA About IAAPA: 

IAAPA is a diverse and dynamic community of global attractions professionals. As the largest international trade association for permanently located attractions, IAAPA unifies the attractions community, connects people to learn and grow together, and strives to promote the highest professional standards for excellence and safety around the world.

Founded in 1918, IAAPA represents more than 6,000 attraction, supplier, and individual members from more than 100 countries. Members include professionals from amusement parks, theme parks, attractions, water parks, resorts, family entertainment centers, zoos, aquariums, science centers, museums, manufacturers, and suppliers.

The association’s global headquarters is in Orlando, Florida, US. IAAPA also maintains offices in Brussels, Belgium; Hong Kong, China; Shanghai, China; Mexico City, Mexico; and Alexandria, Virginia, US. To learn more, visit IAAPA.org or connect through social media channels: @IAAPAHQ #IAAPA.

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The Loro Parque – Siam Park Cicloturista cycling event celebrated this Sunday, October 13, its twelfth edition, during which it offered 81 kilometres of spectacle and sport in its purest form.  On this occasion, more than 300 cyclists covered the distance between Loro Parque and Siam Park, located in Puerto de La Cruz and Adeje respectively, consolidating the success of a non-competitive event that gains participants in each new edition.

The departure was from Loro Parque at 9am, and the route passed through the municipalities of Puerto de La Cruz, Los Realejos, San Juan de la Rambla, Icod de los Vinos, El Tanque, Santiago del Teide, Guía de Isora and Adeje, where it concluded arriving at Siam Park at around 2pm.

The cycling event was carried off with complete normality, with no surprises and at an optimum pace.  And all the participants were received in the best water park in the world with comprehensive refreshments that allowed them to replenish energy after several hours of great effort.

In addition, there was a draw that distributed numerous gifts among all participants.  After the celebration, the participants were able to share with their families, an afternoon of fun in Siam Park discovering each and every one of its spectacular attractions.

The Loro Parque-Siam Park Cicloturista is now well consolidated within the calendar of cycling events in Tenerife as one of the most prestigious and widely acclaimed non-competitive sporting events.  Through this type of initiatives, Loro Parque, Siam Park and the Cabildo seek to raise awareness of the importance of practicing sport and promote sustainable tourism and respect for nature, all elements that combine perfectly in the event.  Brands and institutions of recognised prestige, such as The Loro Parque Foundation, Fuentealta, Emicela, El Aderno, Pepsi and Paluper, supported the event.

The Loro Parque – Siam Park Cicloturista cycling event successfully celebrates its twelfth edition

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Source: https://www.americanhumane.org/press-release/new-tripadvisor-policy-is-ill-advised/Author: American HumaneIn Face of Sixth Mass Extinction, American Humane Asks TripAdvisor to Reverse Decision

TripAdvisor’s policy change is ill-advised, is not based in science, and will harm the very animals it seeks to protect,” says Dr. Paul Boyle, national director of humane conservation at American Humane. “As the country’s first national humane organization and passionate, global animal advocates for more than 140 years, we profoundly disagree with this decision. We propose that a balanced approach toward actually helping to conserve these wonderful animals is what the overwhelming majority of people expect from global leaders in providing access to wholesome and humane professional experiences in educational settings. At a time when the world’s species are facing what scientists call a ‘Sixth Mass Extinction,’ we are asking TripAdvisor to reverse this new, ill-advised and absolute policy, which will harm the amazing and irreplaceable whales, dolphins and other cetaceans with whom we share the Earth.

“TripAdvisor’s policy change is ill-advised, is not based in science, and will harm the very animals it seeks to protect,” says Dr. Paul Boyle, national director of humane conservation at American Humane. “As the country’s first national humane organization and passionate, global animal advocates for more than 140 years, we profoundly disagree with this decision. We propose that a balanced approach toward actually helping to conserve these wonderful animals is what the overwhelming majority of people expect from global leaders in providing access to wholesome and humane professional experiences in educational settings. At a time when the world’s species are facing what scientists call a ‘Sixth Mass Extinction,’ we are asking TripAdvisor to reverse this new, ill-advised and absolute policy, which will harm the amazing and irreplaceable whales, dolphins and other cetaceans with whom we share the Earth.”

The Questionable Ethics of Ingrid Visser

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Author: JENNA DEEDY

A controversial New Zealand-based whale researcher’s latest PR move raises eyebrows among members of the zoo community in terms of her questionable ethics.

Ingrid Visser is a New Zealand born whale researcher who is known for her work on wild killer whale populations, in both her native New Zealand, and in other parts of the southern hemisphere. She has an anti-zoo agenda as well—It is of one that involves her traveling to zoological facilities that house orcas, by taking photos of them in order to pass them off as “evidence” of “abuse.”

Yet, she is also known for some of her questionable methods of “research” practices that have put her under some scrutiny in recent years, and it all shows in her latest PR move that involves an ongoing lawsuit filed against SeaWorld.

Ingrid’s PR Move

In 2018, Ingrid Visser was asked by a group of plaintiffs to serve as an “independent expert” in an ongoing case, which is known as “Anderson v. SeaWorld.” The lawsuit, which was originally filed in 2015, claimed that SeaWorld was making “false” advertising claims about the killer whales in its care, after watching the biased anti-zoo film movie Blackfish.

Although parts of the lawsuit have since been dismissed, the courts have since allowed the remainder to continue. In February of 2019, Visser submitted a report that discussed her findings, that would suggest “alleged” abuse. The next hearing for this case is expected to take place next spring, but when looking at Ingrid’s involvement, it is very obvious that she stands out as being the only “expert” in this case when they could have at sought out other experts to give a second opinion on the matter.

Then again, it could possibly be another PR move for the controversial researcher-turned-extremist, who just happens to have a long history of questionable ethics.

Free Morgan Foundation: Saving Orcas, or Animal Rights Scam?

The motive behind Ingrid Visser’s Free Morgan Foundation is simple: It wants to have Morgan, a rescued orca who currently resides at Loro Parque with a calf of her own, to be removed from human care and be placed in a potentially dangerous “return-to-the-wild” program. Yet, so far, Ingrid Visser has spent the hard-earned donations that would have been used for rescue and rehabilitation efforts on courtroom fees that have seen trials, which have all ended with her losing the case.

After all, the organization’s name proves that it only cares about Morgan, but not the other animals, even though she often used the other animals who reside at Loro Parque to gain sympathy and donations from a concerned public who are tricked into believing that, even if Morgan ends up not being placed in a sea pen as Visser promised, it would still go into helping other animals, who might be in trouble when it is obvious that is not really the case at all.

Before Visser was finally banned by Loro Parque in early 2018, she was reported using The Free Morgan Foundation’s funds to regularly travel to Spain, in order to obtain photos and videos of Morgan to continue to make false claims about the keeping of killer whales at the facility, and seek more money in the process. Loro Parque has a rule that prohibits guests from using photos and videos of its animals for commercial purposes, without the facility’s permission to do so. Yet, Visser continued to ignore this rule by making all her photos and videos be part of her anti-zoo propaganda, which then became part of Free Morgan’s commercial marketing, and enough to cause the Loro Parque staff to have her permanently banned from ever laying a single foot at the facility again.

It does not help that one of the true motives behind her Free Morgan campaign was not really Morgan herself, or the need to make a real difference for orcas everywhere, but the fact that, around the same time she was getting her new campaign started, Visser was having a lot of financial problems back home in New Zealand, where at one point, she was on the brink of bankruptcy and losing her home. So, it is possible that she may have been motivated by money to get the group up-and-running in the first place.

So, the real question in the end regarding this particular group is this: Did Ingrid really care about the well-being of an orphaned rescued orca, or did she really need the money more than anything?

The Whole ‘Bob’ Situation

In 2016, Ingrid Visser was involved in a failed rescue and rehabilitation effort that involved an orphaned killer whale calf, who was named “Bob” three weeks after he was first sighted alone, with no pod nearby. During the failed rehabilitation effort, Visser had the six-month-old calf placed in a small pool, where he was given too much hands-on contact with Visser and her staff. These interactions ranged from Visser rubbing his belly, to her allowing young kids to pet him while he was in the midst of being treated. She even went as far as calling herself his “mom,” while giggling to him in the background.

It was already bad enough that no one was wearing a mask—as required when rehabilitating sick, stranded cetaceans—when they were treating Bob. Not surprisingly.

Although there is argument that it was better for Bob to have been rehabilitated in a pool rather than be euthanized, as it is in most cases that involve stranded cetaceans, a lot of effort should have been focused on trying to relocate his wild pod in hopes for a potential reunion, before going in to rescue and rehabilitate. I mean, for three weeks, Visser, her staff, and New Zealand’s Department of Conservation knew about Bob and the possibility that he was a transient orca from a pod that might still be out there, and this was all before he became weak, as he was when he was finally taken in.

Yet, the problem with transient orca pods is that, once they have left an area, it might be years before they ever return to that particular area, and if Bob did manage to recover and survive, then it would have made any hope of him being reunited with his wild pod to be very much impossible. But, since the keeping of cetaceans in zoological facilities is illegal in New Zealand, it would have been very difficult to find, or even build a facility that would have enabled Bob to live out his life.

The tragedy of little Bob did not just show the inexperience of a whale researcher who once proposed a sea pen off the coast of Washington State that would house up 300 cetaceans, but also, the lack of confidence she really had to begin with.

The Norwegian PR Move No One Talks About

In an investigation that was done by Eric Davis and Erin McKinney back in 2015, it was discovered that Ingrid was planning to serve as a “special guest” for a winter 2016 orca snorkel tour in Norway, under the supervision of Waterproof Expeditions—a dive company that specializes in marine scuba diving and snorkel tours. In emails that the two reporters did manage to obtain, it was discovered that Visser and the company were charging $3,810.10 per person to swim with a pod of wild orcas off the Norwegian coast.

While it would be a lot more logical for Visser to collaborate with whale watch companies in the Pacific Northwest to host tours that would enable people to watch wild orca pods from the comfort of a boat, Visser has a very long history of swimming with wild orcas.

This is because, in both the United States and in Visser’s native New Zealand, there are laws that are put in place that prevent people from harassing wild killer whales. For example, the United States Marine Mammal Protection Act establishes a viewing distance of about 100 yards from all large whale species, while New Zealand’s own marine mammal laws establish a rule that has people stay at least 54 yards from any whale, or dolphin, when out in the water.

However, in the case of Norway, there are no laws or regulations that would protect marine mammals from human interaction, if they were to occur out in the wild. This means that Visser and the company were obviously taking advantage of the lack of legal regulations, that would have protected the whales in the pro-whaling nation. In addition, since the dive company considered Visser to be a “scientist” who publicly professes concern over killer whales in human care, it would be concerning as to why they would even enable her to serve as a “guide,” and harm the animals she claimed to care so much about, which would bring me to my next point regarding Visser’s ethic practices when it comes to her “research” on wild orcas.

Questionable Hypocrisy

The biggest ethical concern regarding Ingrid Visser is the fact that she has a history of interacting with wild orcas off the New Zealand coast, when she has targeted zoological facilities for housing killer whales. Many of her interactions with the animals could have easily resulted in her unintentionally harming New Zealand’s wild population, but here is a little twist that is a lot more concerning than a potential freak accident with a wild orca: She encourages both the public, and her fans online, to participate in such interactions as well.

In many of her own videos and photos that she and her staff may sometimes publish when sharing updates on New Zealand’s wild orcas, Visser can often be seen calling the animals to approach her boat by splashing her hands in the water, in order to draw their attention to her. From there, her in-boat interactions with the mammals may involve her laying a foot on the animal’s body, giving them rub-downs, and even blowing bubbles at them. Many of these interactions take place outside of a stranding.

The human-wild orca interactions that Visser is both promoting and participating in is very harmful to the wild orcas in question, because research has been done on interactions between people and wild marine mammals that has shown that the animals can develop an inability to fend for themselves, and become too reliant on human interaction for survival. As a result, this could reduce the animals’ chance of survival, and may potentially put people at risk of being involved in dangerous freak accidents with them.

While it might be argued that Visser’s research permit may enable her to interact with the mammals, it should be noted that since SeaWorld’s killer whales have spent their whole lives around people; they are used to such interactions with them. These interactions keep the animals healthy and active throughout their daily lives, and ensure their well-being. Studies have shown that experiencing killer whales, and other animal species at zoos and aquariums, are more likely going to enable public appreciation for wildlife than what Visser claims in both interviews and on her social media pages.

It should also be noted that Visser’s research permit, which was issued to her by the New Zealand government, is only applied for her to conduct non-invasive research on the wild orcas, not to swim with them, nor play with them as if they were her pets. In New Zealand alone, the fine for harassing wild marine mammals is around $250,000.

Conclusion

When evaluating Visser’s involvement in this consumer-based lawsuit against SeaWorld, one must look into her questionable ethics before considering her a great candidate to serve as an independent “expert” in the case. This would have to involve looking into her questionable ethics when it comes to how to handles her research on wild orca populations, her ties to radical animal rights extremists, and the potential harm that could come out of it. As much as I respect Visser as a researcher, I had the need to call her out on some of her unethical practices when it comes to how she does such research in the first place.

This is more about holding Visser accountable, in hopes she would take more responsibility if she is to have the same respect as any whale researcher on the West Coast.

AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe Responds to TripAdvisor’s Updated Animal Welfare Policy

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Source: https://www.aza.org/aza-news-releases/posts/aza-president-and-ceo-dan-ashe-responds-to-tripadvisors-updated-animal-welfare-policy

Author: AZA

The travel and tourism website TripAdvisor today announced a new prohibitive booking policy, noting it will no longer sell tickets to any facility caring for cetaceans – dolphins and whales – unless the facility agrees to let their current residents be the last to live at those facilities. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) condemns TripAdvisor’s new policy and stands behind every AZA-accredited member who cares for dolphins and whales. Dan Ashe, AZA President and CEO, issued the following statement:

“TripAdvisor is letting voices of a radical minority dictate corporate policy, rather than listening to the voices and preferences of their customers.

The quality of care provided by AZA member facilities is well-established and affirmed through our rigorous and independent accreditation process, which assures the well-being of the animals in their care always comes first based on the highest levels of scientific evidence and data.

Well-designed habitats and respectfully conducted interactions with cetaceans at accredited facilities are increasingly popular with public audiences, and they are proven to create connections that promote understanding and inspire action by the guests.

Revenue generated at AZA facilities that care for dolphins and whales directly supports millions of dollars in animal welfare research, global conservation efforts, and critical rescue and rehabilitation activities, not the capture of cetaceans from the wild.

TripAdvisor is going down the same path as Thomas Cook and should take a close look at what happens to businesses that put extreme opinions ahead of informed customers.  Each year, millions of people visit AZA-accredited facilities that care for dolphins and whales, and visitation continues to grow. Certainly, TripAdvisor competitors will pay attention and see an opportunity to service a growing market for humane, respectful, and inspiring animal interaction.

TripAdvisor should give its customers good information and trust them to make well-informed decisions.”

You can learn more about AZA’s accreditation standards at its website: https://www.aza.org/accreditation About AZA

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and 11 other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit www.aza.org.