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.

The Questionable Ethics of Ingrid Visser

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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.


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.

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Source: https://www.americanhumane.org/press-release/new-tripadvisor-policy-is-ill-advised/ Author: American Humane In 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 CanBIO project, co-financed by Loro Parque and the Canary Islands Government, advances in Fuerteventura with Avanfuer

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The environmental project ‘Chain to monitor climate change, ocean acidification and underwater noise in the Canaries and its relationship with marine biodiversity and ecosystems’ CanBIO, co-financed by Loro Parque and the Canary Islands Government and promoted by The Loro Parque Foundation, continues to advance through its different subprojects.  In this case, in Fuerteventura, it is doing so through the NGO Avanfuer, which is monitoring turtle tracks in coordination with the Department of the Environment, Combating Climate Change, Circular Economy and the R+D+I of the Fuerteventura Island Council, using a drone.  In addition, as part of their activity, they locate and dispose of plastic garbage from Cofete beach.

Dr. Javier Almunia, the Director of The Loro Parque Foundation, wanted to highlight the importance of this project “at a time when climate change means that turtles need beaches at higher latitudes for their reproduction”.  Furthermore “the implementation of a new loggerhead turtle breeding colony on Fuerteventura as a result of the reintroduction project would mean the recovery of a historic area for the species” he added.

In total, two million euros will be invested via CanBio over four years to study climate change in the sea and ocean acidification and its effects on marine biodiversity in the Canary Islands and Macaronesia.  Different research groups from the Universities of La Laguna and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria are participating in the project, in addition to the Avanfuer and ElasmoCan collectives.

 Turtle tracking at Cofete beach

The objective of this tracking of the loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) and identifying any nests in Cofete is to confirm if the specimens released thirteen years ago in this location return to spawn.

Since the ambitious project to establish a loggerhead turtle breeding colony on Fuerteventura began, it has been estimated that around 1,000 loggerhead turtles have been released into the sea.  The last five had a GPS device incorporated into their shell to follow their evolution and their marine routes.

Now, some of these specimens are expected to return to their birthplace for spawning, so Avanfuer volunteers and technicians regularly patrol the 14 kilometres of Cofete beach assisted by a drone in search of turtle tracks.  If nests are identified during the search, a nursery and protection measures will be activated in conjunction with the Fuerteventura Island Council.


In response to PETA’s critics

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Link:  https://bnn.de/lokales/karlsruhe/nach-peta-kritik-zoo-karlsruhe-spricht-von-fake-news By: Susanne Jock

Regarding the PETA critics: Karlsruhe Zoo speaks of “fake news

The animal rights organisation PETA is running a campaign with a call for donations in which it describes the keeping of apes in German zoos as cruelty to animals – and also calls on the citizens of the city to protest. The Karlsruhe Stadtgarten zoo admits potential for improvement in the keeping of the three chimpanzees Benny, Sophie and Katche. Above all, however, he complains: “PETA spreads fake news.”

The zoo defends itself against a campaign of the animal rights organization PETA, which denounces the keeping of apes and also calls for protest in Karlsruhe. “At close quarters exactly in this moment an animal is suffering terrible torments. Human apes like Benny in the Stadtgarten Karlsruhe zoo experience mental and physical traumata day by day”, it says in letters and e-mails that were sent specifically to citizens in the urban catchment of the zoo.

Zoo Director: Questionable donation campaign

Enclosed or attached is a card with the request to end the ape keeping to be sent to the zoo and a call for donations. “Yes, I would like to support the campaign ‘Save the Apes’ and PETA’s work against cruelty to animals with a monthly donation,” the form says. “Here with fake news about the Karlsruher zoo one tries to reach humans emotionally and to acquire donations for campaigns”, laments the zoo director of Stadtgarten Karlsruhe, Matthias Reinschmidt. “The money goes however not into the protection of species or animals, but into campaigns”, he emphasizes.

Chimpanzee Benny suffers, claims the animal rights organization Peta. The zoo rejects the accusations and goes on the offensive.

Since last week, about 50 of PETA’s cards have arrived at Karlsruhe Zoo. “This shows us that the topic touches people,” says Reinschmidt. In addition, there had been several inquiries from people interested in animals, who wanted to know what was behind the campaign. “Normally we do not express ourselves to the actions of Peta, in order to not give an additional platform to the organization”, explains zoo press officer Timo Deible. Now however by no means one does not want to leave the statements of PETA at that, with which the organization tries to reach people over the sympathy rail and allegedly collects money, in order to do the Karlsruher chimpanzees something good, adds Reinschmidt.

Schimpanse Benny leidet, behauptet die Tierrechtsorganisation Peta. Der Zoo weist die Vorwürfe zurück und geht in die Offensive. | Foto: Deible

The zoo wants to go on the offensive

“We will not only write to everyone who has contacted the zoo and inform them about the facts, but we will also go on the offensive,” the zoo director announces. He will publicly ask the question: “What do you save with a donation to Peta and what with a donation to the species protection foundation Artenschutzstiftung Zoo Karlsruhe?

“We see our apes as ambassadors of their species and try to sensitize zoo visitors to the concerns of animals in nature. And through the donations of our foundation for species protection we support projects for the survival of the species in the wild”, he explains. “Around 30,000 euros from the Artenschutzstiftung Karlsruhe Zoo foundation have so far gone to orangutans in Borneo, which the Dutchman Willie Smits manages and coordinates”, remembers the zoo director. Smits has been dedicated to protecting the “forest people” for decades and has already coddled up over 600 animals and brought them back into nature.

Many species already extincted without zoos?

“Apes can hardly ever be released into the wild, and zoos do not contribute to the conservation of the species in the wild,” it says on the PETA forms, which people now send to the zoo. “The purpose of the zoos is not to release monkeys from Europe into the wild. Zoos breed so that there is a genetic reserve when the animals no longer exist in the wild,” Reinschmidt replies.

The Association of Zoological Gardens (VdZ) responded to the PETA campaign with a letter pointing out, for example, that many animal species would already have died out without zoos. “These include the European bison, the Przewalski’s horse and the Mendes antelope,” said the VdZ.

PETA criticism described as “dishonest”

The Zoo Association also makes it clear that German zoos have been doing without wild catches of  apes for more than four decades. However, PETA gives a converse impression, which is “unfair”. The reason for the association’s statement is that PETA’s requests did not only reach the surroundings of Karlsruhe Zoo. With equivalent modified letters all German zoos that keep apes are affected.

The chimpanzees Benny, Sophie and Katche have been living in Karlsruhe Zoo for many years. They never had offspring: Benny, who is more than 50 years old, has an abnormal behavior, he has never been interested in chimpanzees and is bound to humans. Reinschmidt admits that there is potential for improvement in chimpanzee keeping, although this is not a topic of the PETA letters. “Our master plan provides relevant changes,” says the zoo director. In the long term, the aim in Karlsruhe is to concentrate on keeping and breeding the highly endangered orangutans, as part of the future master plan.


Federica the turtle is enjoying her new life at Loro Parque

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Federica the turtle, which arrived in Loro Parque from Italy in June with an irreversible spinal cord injury, is now fully adapted to her new home in the Humboldt Penguin Aquarium in Planet Penguin. In addition, this Caretta caretta has progressed a lot in her training, which reflects in her overall well-being.

When Federica was rescued from the Italian coast, she had permanent damages compatible with injuries caused by a collision with a ship’s propeller: a deformation in her shell, buoyancy problems and serious damage to her spinal cord. Euthanasia was contemplated as in her circumstances; she would not survive in the wild. However, the predisposition of Loro Parque to welcome her to its facilities gave her a second chance and now she is in very good condition and receiving the best veterinary care.

In addition, she is being fed using a target that she has been trained to go to, so she is acquiring behaviour that allows her caregivers to maintain control over her health and ensure that she is always in optimal condition without suffering any kind of stress. In this sense, her quick adaptation to the training – where she is weighed, measured and blood is drawn – contributes to guaranteeing her wellbeing.

Likewise, with the data obtained through these revisions, her diet is readjusted, reducing fatty fish or boosting protein according to Federica’s needs. In Loro Parque, you can watch her eat one per cent of her body weight on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays around 2pm. At present, this charismatic turtle weighs 24.5 kilos.

In the Parque, Federica acts as a true ambassador for turtles, which have to face numerous difficulties in the wild, such as the growing maritime traffic that often leads to collisions. In addition, by welcoming her, Loro Parque reinforces its commitment to the protection of biodiversity and boosts the awareness of its visitors about the dramatic reality faced by the oceans and the species that inhabit them.

Loro Parque invites their neighbours from Punta Brava and Las Adelfas to visit its facilities

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To mark the celebration of the fiestas of Punta Brava, as every year, Loro Parque will open its doors so that its neighbours can enjoy its facilities free of charge during the week of September 2 to 8.

This action continues the company’s tradition of inviting its neighbours to the Parque during the local festivities and, at the same time, continues its mission to raise awareness and sensitise and educate visitors about the importance of wildlife preservation and animal welfare.

In this way, Loro Parque reinforces its commitment to the protection and conservation of all the animals in the facility, which act as authentic ambassadors of the members of their species in the wild.

To apply for entry, the neighbours of Punta Brava and Las Adelfas must provide their ID card or a certificate confirming their residence.

The myth of the early deaths

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One of the most widespread falsehoods from the anti-zoo groups is the high mortality of cetaceans under human care, or the myth of the early deaths. The main argument of these organizations is that handling, restraint, confinement, transport, isolation or crowding and an artificial diet lead to stress in captive cetaceans and, ultimately, a reduction in their life expectancy. And that is exactly what could be expected, if the terrible situation of suffering and deprivation described by the anti-zoo groups would be true, dolphins and orcas should have a much higher mortality rate. But, is this the case? If we analyze the scientific literature this is clearly not the case.

It has been recently published that dolphins under human care at least live as much as their wild counterparts, and can live more [1]. This research provides the most comprehensive assessment of life expectancy and survival rates for bottlenose dolphins, based on data from U.S. zoological facilities between 1974 and 2012. The mean life expectancy for bottlenose dolphins under human care based on this data is 28 years. This result is comparable to the life expectancy for bottlenose dolphins in European facilities [2] or even to Chinese aquariums [3], which indicates that under the best husbandry dolphins can live more than their wild counterparts. In some particular cases, like the United States Navy Marine Mammal Program, the mean life expectancy was even higher, reaching 30 years [4]. When mean life expectancy for wild bottlenose dolphins is calculated is typically half of the mean life expectancy for bottlenose dolphins under human care in recent years [1] [5]. Despite the lack of data and difficulties to measure the survivorship in wild dolphins results in non-statistical significance, it is clear that dolphins under human care live longer. Another relevant difference about dolphins under human care is that the mortality of calves during the first year is lower that the estimates for wild dolphins [6].

When analyzing killer whales, the situation is similar, the most recent scientific research proves that killer whales under human care live, at least as long as their wild counterparts [7]. The mean life expectancy for wild killer whales ranged from 29.0 years (Southern Residents) to 42.3 (Northern Residents), while the captive killer whales have a mean life expectancy of 41.6 years 7. These results debunk other myth: the idea that zoos do not spread correct longevity figures for dolphins and killer whales [8]. And also questions the post-reproductive theories in female killer whales [9].

If we look at maximum life expectancies (MLE), the dolphins under human care have a MLE of 50 years, while in the wild the maximum life expectancy for a dolphin varies from 31 to 36 years. The oldest dolphin under human care ever was Nellie, a female who died at Marineland Dolphin Adventure when she was 61. When the ages of wild orcas off the coast of Washington State are analyzed (over 350 individuals) it can be seen that less than 1% of the specimens exceed 60 years. Despite there have been killer whales under human care for less than 50 years (professionally managed) some individuals like Lolita or Corky are already in their 50s.

In the light of this scientific knowledge, which proves that life expectancy of cetaceans is similar or even greater under human care, it is clear that the speculations of suffering and deprivation spreaded by the anti-zoo groups during decades are not sustained by the facts.

For more please visit:

[1] Jaakkola, K., & Willis, K. (2019). How long do dolphins live ? Survival rates and life expectancies for bottlenose dolphins in zoological facilities vs . wild populations. Marine Mammal Science, 36(3), 248–261. https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12601

[2] Hartmann, M. G. (2000). The European studbook of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): 1998 survey results. Aquatic Mammals, 26(2), 95-100.

[3] Zhang, P., Sun, N., Yao, Z., & Zhang, X. (2012). Historical and current records of aquarium cetaceans in China. Zoo Biology, 31(3), 336–349. https://doi.org/10.1002/zoo.20400

[4] Venn-Watson, S. K., Jensen, E. D., & Ridgway, S. H. (2011). Evaluation of population health among bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) at the United States Navy Marine Mammal Program. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 238(3), 356-360.

[5] Stolen, M. K., & Barlow, J. (2003). A model life table for bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida, USA. Marine mammal science, 19(4), 630-649.

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Loro Parque welcomes two newborn Emperor Tamarins

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Summer has seen new births in Loro Parque: two young Emperor Tamarins have arrived to join a family that began to grow last year, when they first had offspring.  This news is evidence of the wellbeing of the animals in the Parque and how well established the pair of Saguinus imperator is.

With this species, it is the male (or another member of the group) who carries the offspring until they become independent of the parents, and gives them to the mother from time to time for nursing.  In Loro Parque two pairs of twins have already been born, the first a year ago and the second recently and now they can all be observed enjoying family life in their home.

Emperor Tamarins originate from the forests of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Peru, where they feed mainly on fruit, flowers, nectar and small animals such as frogs, snails, lizards, spiders or insects.  It has characteristic whiskers, claws instead of nails on all fingers except the thumb and two teeth instead of three on each side of the jaw, both aspects that differentiate it from other species of monkeys.

Fortunately, it is listed as a species of least concern on the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), so it is not at risk of extinction.  However, the size of its populations is declining and its habitat is shrinking due to residential and commercial development and forest clearing, among other threats.

At Loro Parque, this family acts as a representative of their peers in nature, helping to make visitors aware of the importance of protecting wild animals and their natural habitats.  In addition, it promotes knowledge about the species, its reproduction and breeding, information that is also very valuable for the protection of populations in the wild.