Activists Want Zoos to be an Endangered Species

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A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences asserts that a sixth mass extinction is underway. Primarily pointing to the extinction of several species, as well as the deterioration of animal habitats, the paper warns that habitats and animal populations are decreasing at an alarming rate. The conservation of endangered and threatened species is a critical issue. Ironically, animal activist organizations who claim the moral high ground are seeking to destroy two of the primary tools for supporting animal conservation: zoos and aquariums.

These institutions support conservation while conducting research across the globe on species ranging from primates to insects and everything in-between. The aptly named Phoenix Zoo has spent 50 years bringing back the Arabian Oryx (think, desert deer) from the brink of extinction and has reintroduced the animal to its native habitat. The National Zoo in Washington, DC did the same with the golden lion tamarin. Countless other zoos have helped with these and the survival of other endangered species. Using the best science, zoos also have an international database of their animals to assist in breeding efforts and ensure the genetic diversity of future generations of animals.

Despite these benefits, PETA and similarly positioned animal groups are threatening lawsuits under the Endangered Species Act that would spell the end of zoos and aquariums in America. Their legal claim? Keeping animals in enclosures is a form of illegal “abuse” of endangered species. They call zoos “prisons.” Nonsense. Zoos are great for the animals that live in them. A recent study from the University of Zurich shows that more than 80% of mammalian species studied have longer lives in zoos than in the wild.

Groups like PETA love to point to elephants as a case study because they have shorter lives in captivity, but animals that are generally “long-lived” take much longer to study. New strategies implemented in the last 10 years won’t show up in data until after this generation of animals has died. So as scientists have learned more about elephants and improved their lives in zoos, the results of that labor haven’t been realized yet. It also ignores the fact that the public’s exposure to elephants in zoos and circuses likely help in efforts to end the ivory trade. The research done by veterinarians and zoologists help all animals in a given species, directly refuting claims by PETA that “while confining animals to zoos keeps them alive, it does nothing to protect wild populations and their habitats.” Probably the most famous example is the decades of research on Giant Pandas. Scientists around the world brought the beloved animal from the brink of extinction on the endangered species list to the much better “vulnerable species” list.

Not only will anti-zoo efforts harm the animals themselves, which are not fit to be in the wild, but they will also destroy valuable educational experiences and local communities. Children’s physical exposure to animals—not just from books or tablets—is a key learning experience. Moreover, zoos and aquariums added nearly $20 billion to the U.S. economy from nearly 170 million visitors in 2012.

It’s important to understand that ultimately groups like PETA (or its cousin, the Humane Society of the United States) don’t want to make better zoos. They want to phase out the use of animals—whether at a zoo, on a farm, or at a circus. Some activists go so far as to question the ethics of pet ownership. Serious issues are facing animals of all stripes and in all corners of the globe. If organizations like PETA and HSUS have their way, it will be more than zoos and aquariums that go extinct. Will Coggin is the research director for the Center for Consumer Freedom in Washington, D.C.

Premeditated and unpremeditated consequences of the new french ruling about cetacean maintenance in zoos

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Cetaceans kept in accordance with French zoo legislation and best professional practice

  • Zoological parks in France are licensed to operate by the government following inspections that ensure compliance with the EU Zoos Directive 1999/22 and specific requirements imposed by French law under the decree of 25 March 2004. The parks also must comply with additional detailed requirements under a 1981 Decree on the keeping of cetaceans.
  • The three parks in France currently keeping and exhibiting bottlenose dolphins — Planete Sauvage, Parc Asterix, and Marineland Antibes (which also keeps orcas) — are duly licensed by French authorities. They also all are accredited members of the European Association for Aquatic Mammals (EAAM) complying with best professional practices under Standards & Guidelines for bottlenose dolphins.

Dolphins in EAAM/EAZA Zoos are a Thriving, Self-Sustaining Population

  • Operating under the EAAM Standards & Guidelines and through mandatory cooperation in a species management program operated by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA), EAAM parks have achieved a self-sustaining population (for more than the next 100 years) of bottlenose dolphins in Europe. The health and well-being of the dolphins in human care is proven by the fact that they live on average far longer in accredited zoological parks than in the wild and are reproducing. Indeed, more than 70% of the dolphins in EAAM parks today were born in human care. There has been no capture of dolphins from the wild for more than twenty years for exhibition in France. Because of their relative longevity in zoos, however, animals that were taken from the wild many, many years ago are still alive and well. Of the 28 dolphins currently kept in France, 22 were born in zoos. Of the 97 dolphins born in European zoos frm 2005-2015, 15 were born in France.

Parks support modernizing the 1981 Decree on keeping of cetaceans

  • Representatives of French zoological parks agree that the 1981 decree is outdated and therefore participated in a working group in good faith for more than two years to facilitate a positive revision of the decree based on peer-reviewed scientific evidence, technical information, best professional practices, and hands-on experience with successfully keeping cetaceans in human care from the animal health and welfare perspectives.
  • The stated purpose of the working group established to examine the 1981 Decree was to provide requirements to ensure a high level of keeping and care of cetaceans to meet their biological and health needs and permit the animals to express their natural behaviours.
  • Much progress was made, however, certain proposals were not based on the needs of the animals or science and may be technically impossible to achieve.

Decree abandons focus on animal welfare and aims to close all cetacean facilities in France

  • On the eve of the second round of presidential elections, Mme. Segolene Royal, then Minister of the Environment, Energy and Oceans, issued a press communication in which she announced that she had signed a new decree. This appears to have been done without any assessment of impacts on animal welfare or socio-economic impacts of the proposals that had been under consideration. The Decree was published on 6 May 2017 and took effect the day thereafter.
  • Clearly evidencing the political nature of her intervention, the press communication states that the Decree was put in place with the assistance of multiple named animal rights and campaign organisations. The Minister gratuitously inserted in the opening article the need to prevent “suffering” of the animals — when observable evidence shows that the animals are not suffering but are thriving. She inserted a ban on the keeping of cetaceans and introduced a total ban on reproduction in direct contradiction to the original purpose of ensuring optimal natural behaviours.

Requirements are Extreme, not Evidence-based, and Impossible within transition deadlines

  • The adopted Decree requires significant changes to facilities that are not based on welfare needs. The level of change required would necessitate the relocation of the animals out of their familiar and government-approved habitats during construction. As no other zoo could likely keep all the animals in their current social groups, significant stress and risk is entailed.
  • The size of pools must not only be significantly increased in volume and depth but also allow for underwater viewing. Even if permits could be obtained — which is not a simple matter -the massive changes required could not be achieved in the short 3 years provided.
  • The Decree also prohibits the use of chlorine, which is used in small amounts together with ozone in zoological parks to eliminate bacteria and ensure high water quality for the animals. Eliminating chlorine entirely would require significant changes to water filtration systems and would certainly not be possible within the six month period allowed for compliance. Moreover, a backup system — in all likelihood involving chlorine — would almost certainly be required to ensure the safety of the animals.
  • Furthermore, the new Decree removes any incentive to make the kinds of investments that it would require or even voluntary enhancement of educational or conservation programs related to these important ocean ambassadors because it includes a new and sweeping prohibition on the keeping and reproduction of cetaceans.

Prohibition on keeping cetaceans forces closure, not investment in the interest of animals

  • The far-reaching prohibition on cetaceans in France is created by banning the keeping of cetaceans other than those present in the parks as of the effective date of the decree and then prohibiting reproduction even of the existing animals.
  • The prohibition means that from 7 May 2017 no stranded cetacean can be rescued and rehabilitated in France.
  • The Decree also dooms the dolphins and orcas currently in French parks because it does not allow cetaceans from zoological parks outside of France to be brought into France even if needed to ensure appropriate social groupings. This means that the French zoological parks are compelled to manage the existing animals until their deaths in dwindling, static and, over time, potentially dysfunctional social groups.
  • Equally, without two-way cooperation, French facilities cannot expect other zoos to keep  cetaceans currently housed in France to allow the construction required by the decree.

Decree Blocks EU cooperation in the interest of the animals and impacts EU population

  • The prohibitions not only dooms the grandfathered cetaceans in France but negatively impact the entire population of cetaceans in human care in European zoological parks because the animals in France are effectively removed from the gene pool of bottlenose dolphins managed at the European level for the benefit of the European population.

Closure of cetacean exhibits detrimental to education, tourism and local economies

  • While neither bottlenose dolphins nor orcas are endangered species, they serve as powerful ambassadors and focal points for public education about the state of the world’s oceans and seas and human impacts on them and their inhabitants. Without these icons of the oceans, parks will not be able to carry on with their conservation and education programs for the benefit of the French public and the many tourists that visit the parks.
  • More than 1000 people are employed directly or indirectly as a result of the keeping of cetaceans in French parks. These are full time professional jobs as well as part time jobs during the high season employing local youth. Visitors to the parks also contribute to the local economy as they patronize nearby hotels, restaurants and other businesses.

In short, the combination of new requirements with impossible timeframes paired with the prohibition on keeping and breeding cetaceans threatens the ability of the French parks to maintain their marine mammal programs, including the keeping of dolphins – precisely the political goal of the former Minister and her non-governmental partners.

The Decree should be invalidated with the result that the 1981 Decree would remain in force. A serious, evidence based review should be undertaken to identify the aspects of the 1981 Decree which need to be updated. Any necessary revisions should be made in accordance with the animals’ interests and scientific evidence to ensure that the keeping of cetaceans in France is in accordance with recognized and proven best professional practices and allows for continuing cooperation with zoological parks across Europe.

Loro Parque team says goodbye to the female dolphin Sanibel

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This morning our dolphin Sanibel passed away in the advanced age of about 37 years. Today, our joy of yesterday about the birth of three sea lions became greatly clouded.

Sanibel was given to the ULPGC for necropsy by Professor Antonio Fernández. In the next few days we will know the cause of death. We are losing with Sanibel one of the founding animals and we are sorry that nothing could be further done for her.

The CITES authority in the Netherlands reasserts Loro Parque in the Morgan case

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orca Morgan

It sounds absurd that after 7 years since Morgan appeared dying on the Dutch coast and five judicial pronouncements stated that her return to the sea would mean her death and her deafness has been proved, there are still organizations committed to denounce Loro Parque demanding her release. But that is a well-known strategy of some self-proclaimed animalistic groups: seeking the impact on the media and social networks to get attention and funds. Although they know perfectly well that Morgan has no chance of being released and that there is a firm sentence of the highest Dutch court that ratifies it since 2014.

The Free Morgan Foundation has got us used to the scandal strategy. They file a complaint against Loro Parque, they publish campaigns in the media creating social alarm and worrying honest people who love animals and so they obtain funds for their organization. But when the administrations dismiss and reject these allegations as unfounded they never recognize their mistake and never make it public. They do not even put negative resolutions on their website to acknowledge its members. That is fraud.

Morgan Loro ParqueThis week, the Dutch CITES Authority has dismissed the last appeal filed by the Free Morgan Foundation raised on the alleged illegality of Morgan’s CITES permit. A few months ago that same institution responded that the charge of the Free Morgan Foundation was unfounded since Loro Parque carries out scientific research with orcas and this it is not incompatible with education and awareness activities they promote with the permit issued in 2011. The CITES Spanish authority (also where the Free Morgan Foundation sent its protest) responded in the same terms in January of this year: “The transfer of the whale Morgan from Hharderwijk Dolfinarium in Holland to the facilities of Loro Parque in Tenerife in 2011 was carried out fulfilling the provisions of Article 9 of Regulation (EC) 338/97 and endorsed by the Dutch State Council ruling that the return of the animal to the ocean was neither an alternative nor a satisfactory solution”. However, do not bother looking, you will not find this information on the Free Morgan Foundation page.

Unfortunately we know this will not be the last complaint, we are sure that the Free Morgan Foundation and some other minority groups will continue using the same scandal strategy simply because it’s economically profitable for them.

Meanwhile, Morgan is happy with her new family, has almost reached adult size and weighs more than 2,100 kg. Her well-being is beyond doubt. During a recent audit at Loro Parque by the American Humane Association, an organization that looks out for the well-being of animals around the world, it has been detailed that: “The activity and energy of killer whales is comforting. Coaches conduct six training sessions and three daily presentations; this stimulation facilitates a well-being exceptionally positive for the six orcas.” This, along with obtaining the highest rating (100%) of the British Association of Travel Agents (ABTA) welfare standards audited by Global Spirit, is what most satisfies us, the people who work at Loro Parque every day for the welfare of Morgan and the thousands of animals under our care.

Zoos Are Not Prisons. They Improve the Lives of Animals.

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The recent death of Harambe—the Western lowland gorilla shot dead at the Cincinnati Zoo after a three-year-old boy fell into his enclosure—has ignited a fierce debate about the role of modern zoos. Some critics have seized the tragedy as an opportunity to advance an uncompromising anti-captivity narrative in which all zoos and aquariums are inherently unethical and cruel.

To be sure, there are bad actors. The spawning of so-called “roadside zoos”—an exploitative enterprise known for its systematic negligence and abuse of animals—are some of the most egregious cases-in-point. But blunt and sweeping indictments of zoos and aquariums fail to account for how ethical institutions enrich and ultimately protect the lives of animals, both in human care and in the wild.

Responsible zoos and aquariums exist to facilitate and promote the conservation of animals. And the need for intensive conservation campaigns is now more urgent than ever before: Our world is currently in the midst of the “Sixth Extinction,” a term coined by Elizabeth Kolbert in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name. Unlike the five preceding die-offs, which were precipitated by natural events—such as those that killed off the dinosaurs, exterminating three-quarters of all species on the planet—the current mass extinction is a result of human activities encroaching on wild spaces.

Today’s zoos and aquariums are uniquely positioned to combat those evolving threats. Using robust and sophisticated breeding programs, these institutions fund and facilitate countless initiatives to propagate species and preserve genetic biodiversity, and then reintroduce critically endangered or extinct species into the wild. Consider the Arabian Oryx, a striking breed of antelope from the Arabian Peninsula. The species was hunted to extinction in the wild nearly four decades ago, when the last wild Arabian Oryx was shot and killed in 1972. The Phoenix Zoo helped lead the ensuing breeding and reintroduction programs, which ultimately birthed more than 200 calves from just nine individuals. Now between Oman and Jordan, there are about 1,000 Arabian Oryx living in the wild.

The Arabian Oryx—which has since been removed from the endangered species list—isn’t alone. Breeding programs at zoos and aquariums have since saved numerous other species from extinction, including the European bison, the red wolf, and the Oregon spotted frog.

Even when animals are never introduced into the wild, placing them under human care can still improve the lives of their wild counterparts: Modern zoos and aquariums serve as bases for observation and research, which then helps protect wild animals.

One compelling example is the study of animal infection and disease, currently the subject of numerous ongoing research projects at zoos worldwide. The Zoological Society of London, for instance, is developing innovative methods to assess the risks of animals contracting disease when they’re reintroduced into the wild. Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington is leading global research efforts on the detection and treatment of the sometimes-fatal elephant herpes virus, with the ultimate goal of developing an effective vaccine to be administered to the species in both zoo and wild populations. And the San Diego Zoo retains a staff of 20 experts dedicated to the study of treating wildlife diseases that threaten conservation.

Of course, the positive contributions of zoos and aquariums in conserving wild animals cannot—and should not—outweigh the health and well-being of the animals living under the care of these institutions. That’s why American Humane Association is launching a global initiative to elevate the welfare standards of zoos and aquariums worldwide. The Humane Conservation program will be the first third-party certification devoted solely to verifying that animals living in these institutions are healthy, positively social, active, safe, and living with proper light, sound, air, and heat levels. And these standards will be set not by zoos but instead an independent collection of world-renowned experts in the fields of animal science, behavior, and ethics—a sharp departure from most existing accreditation programs, which are vulnerable to accusations of conflicts of interest and leniency.

To some detractors, the humane certification of zoos and aquariums is an oxymoron. But vast empirical and academic research discredits this black-and-white view. Animals in zoos and aquariums today can live longer, healthier, and richer lives than their forbearers ever did in the wild. Go see for yourself.

Top 6 myths about zoos

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We all meet these myths almost every day. Lets just bust them once and for all, ok? Feel free to share and use, as you please.

Are You Letting Yourself Be Manipulated By Animal Activisits

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Animal activists have turned the plea of sick and injured animals into big business.

In 2015, PETA raised over $48 million dollars, HSUS raised over $178 million and the ASPCA raised over $138 million. This big business relies on exploiting the plight of animals to get people to open their wallets.

Most of us have found ourselves late at night watching TV when we hear the Sarah McLachlan music. You see videos of animals desperately in need of help, and like millions of other people, you reach for your wallet and donate.

Recently someone on YouTube took the audio from an ASPCA and mashed it up with video of robots.

The result is a video that pulls at your heart strings and demonstrates the brutal art of manipulating people with videos without context.

This is how this big business works.

The reality is that after hundreds of millions of dollars are donated to these organizations, very little animals are helped, and in PETA’s case, your money actually funds the killing of animals.

When you look at how easily the robot video can be edited to pull at your heart strings, you can see how BlackFish manipulated viewers into thinking that SeaWorld needs to be shut down.

The result of this manipulation is that people are condemning one of the world’s best zoological organizations – an organization that is actively engaged in protecting and saving wildlife around the world. While a donation to PETA will help kill animals, a day at SeaWorld or your local accredited zoological facility has a global impact that benefits animals worldwide.

Next time you see a sad animal video, take a moment ask yourself if you are being manipulated.

Six rays are born in the aquarium of Loro Parque

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Once again the Aquarium of Loro Parque has been successful with its breeding program. This time six young, strong and healthy, rays (Dasyatis Americana), in the Canaries known as “chucho”, were born.

After an uncomplicated birth, the team of professionals in the aquarium decided to keep the youngsters in a floating tank within the big exhibition tank. This way they guaranteed that the newborns don’t suffer any brusque water changes but are protected from all other fish that lives in the big exhibition.

These rays are Elasmobranchii of the Dasyatis family, whose area of ​​expansion is confined to the tropical and subtropical seas of the southern Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. They have a flat, diamond-shaped body, which is mud brown on top and white on the belly.

It is a species that tolerates wide ranges of temperature and salinity and feeds on large invertebrates. Its reproduction is viviparous and can produce between 4 to 7 offspring. The gestation period is quite short compared to other species of rays; it only lasts four months allowing females to reproduce twice a year. The average size of these specimens is 40 cm wide, although the maximum records are 60 cm for females and 57 cm for males.

Loro Parque once again shows its commitment to the protection and conservation of animals, demonstrating the success of its breeding system within a philosophy that has turned the zoo into the embassy of exotic animals.

Loro Parque Fundación: the only zoological center in Europe that manages to reproduce the Lear’s Macaw.

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Loro Parque continues to obtain magnificent results with its breeding programs, and on this occasion, Loro Parque Fundación (LPF), as the only zoological center in Europe, has managed to reproduce the Lear’s Macaw (Anodorhynchus leari), an endangered species that lives in the north of Brazil and that currently is exhibited in the Park.

Since 2006, when the Brazilian government first sent a pair of Lear Macaws for reproduction to Loro Parque, LPF has obtained 30 individuals born in Tenerife; nine individuals have been returned to Brazil already.

The acclimatization of the parrots has been fundamental in order to achieve such a successful breeding. The imitation of their natural habitat, the good climate and the food from the licuri palm tree – the same they feed on in Brazil – have been the keys for such good results.

Lear macaws suffer illegal trade with the capture of its young, and when grown up, farmers chase after them to protect their corn. Their habitat is increasingly degraded by the use of land for cattle, and also by the indiscriminate collection of leaves and fruits of the licuri palm.

The scientific director of LPF, Rafael Zamora, explains the process of adaptation and the creation of a habitat most similar to its natural environment: “When the first pair was going to arrive, we took a photo of the cliff where they lived in the area of ​​Brazil so that our team of craft workers could recreate an imitation as close as possible to these rocks; We have managed to recreate their natural habitat here at Loro Parque.”

Loro Parque Foundation has managed the recovery of the species and change the category of protection from ‘critically endangered’ to ‘threatened animal’; a very important step in conservation. Up to this date, nearly €500,000 have been invested in the protection of Lear’s free-ranging macaw, contributing to the definition of priority actions, previously studying its geographic movements and food resources, and sensitization of local populations on the importance of maintaining the licuri palm.

The objective remains to situate Lear’s macaw as an unmanaged species, reducing its threats and recovering the wild population, in addition to protect this palm tree, essential for the long-term recovery of the species.

Loro Parque Becomes First Facility in Europe to Achieve Humane Certification for Care of Its Animals

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American Humane, America’s first national humane organization and the world’s largest certifier of animal welfare and well-being, announcedthat Loro Parqueachieved certification from the global American Humane Conservation program. Loro Parque, the 33-acre zoo in Puerto de la Cruz,passed a rigorous third-party audit to become the first institution in Europe to earn the program’s prestigious Humane Certified™ seal of approval.

The American Humane Conservation program is the first-ever certification program solelydevoted to helping verify the humane treatment of animals living in zoos, aquariums, and conservation centers across the globe. The program enforces rigorous, evidence-based standards of comprehensive animal welfare, developed by an independent Scientific Advisory Committee comprised of world-renowned leaders in the fields of animal science, animal behavior, animal ethics, and conservation.

“American Humane is excited to recognize Loro Parque as the very first Humane Certified™ institution in Europe,” said American Humane President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert. “The certification of Loro Parque by the American Humane Conservation program demonstrates their commitment to meeting the highest standards of humane, verifiable, and transparent animal care.”

“Our work at Loro Parque is defined by love and commitment to the animals and their natural environment, something that we have dedicated more than 45 years to. This recognition is especially important for us, the entire team of Loro Parque, as it acknowledges independently the well-being our all of our animals, more than 10,000 of them that are currently in our care and to whom we dedicate all our care and affection on a daily basis. In the times, when the biodiversity in the wild continues to suffer and diminishin numbers due to all the negative impact affecting the nature, we, as a modern zoo, recognize the importance of providing the best care for the animals, above all, the endangered species, participating in programs of reproduction to maintain the genetic fund and in programs of conservation of the biodiversity, including protection of the natural habitats,” stated Wolfgang Kiessling, President of Loro Parque.

The American Humane Conservation program’s extensive criteria exhaustively verify the many dimensions of animal welfare and well-being, with areas of evaluation including: excellent health and housing; positive social interactions within groups of animals, as well as between animals and handlers; safe and stimulating environments, with concern for factors such as appropriate lighting, sound levels, air quality, and thermoregulation; and evidence of thorough preparation and protocols established to prevent and manage medical or operational emergencies.

For added rigor, Loro Parque’s compliance with the American Humane Conservation standards was verified through an independent audit. You can read more about the American Humane Conservation program here: