10th anniversary of the rescue of the orca Morgan

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Today, Wednesday 24th June, Loro Parque commemorates the 10th anniversary of the rescue of the orca Morgan. Taking advantage of this occasion, the Park has uploaded an emotional documentary to its social networks in which it tells its story of overcoming and survival, as well as a report in which the protagonists of the rescue tell their experience. In addition, it wanted to draw attention to the serious consequences that underwater noise has on the lives of cetaceans, this being a possible cause of the deafness that Morgan suffers.

Although this cannot be known for sure, an increasing number of cetaceans appear to be stranded with hearing problems. And scientists have shown that noise caused by human activities at sea is disturbing underwater soundscapes, animals and marine ecosystems.

For this reason, Loro Parque assures that it is time to take action to protect the animals from the negative effects of noise, something that Loro Parque Fundación is already working on through different projects. One of these projects is the demand to extend the moratorium on medium frequency military sonar in the Canary Islands to the whole of Macaronesia, in an initiative that has the unanimous support of the Government of the Canary Islands and the MEPs from the European Outermost Regions.

Also noteworthy is CanBIO, a project co-financed by Loro Parque and the Government of the Canary Islands with 2,000,000 euros to study the effects of climate change on the sea in the Canary Islands and Macaronesia. Thanks to this project, two permanent underwater monitoring stations for acoustic quality in the archipelago analyze the evolution of noise over time and monitor the underwater soundscapes of the Canary Islands. One station is already in operation in the Bay of Gando, in Gran Canaria, and another one will be operational by the end of the year in El Hierro.

Morgan: a survival story with a happy ending

It was on 24 June 2010, now 10 years ago, that this killer whale appeared on the coast of the Netherlands. It was just a baby and found itself alone, dehydrated and malnourished, almost on the verge of death. Thanks to her rescue and the efforts of many people to ensure that she did not die, she was able to recover completely in a few months at the Harderwijk Dolphinarium in the Netherlands.

However, her family could not be found, so she could not be returned to the sea and there were only two alternatives: euthanasia or integration into a group of killer whales under human care. The Dutch authorities, after studying her case, decided that the best place for her was Loro Parque and the Zoo of Puerto de la Cruz accepted their request for help.

Soon after, her caretakers detected that Morgan was not responding to acoustic signals and a group of experts found that she was deaf, which would prevent her from hunting, orienting herself and communicating underwater. However, in order to interact with her, the trainers at Orca Ocean in Loro Parque devised and developed a light-based communication system that is unique in the world.

As a result, Morgan was able to integrate more easily and has managed to establish such positive social bonds within the group that, in September 2018, she gave birth to her first baby, Ula, who is the youngest and growing up healthy and strong. Today, both live in perfect harmony with each other.

The animals of Loro Parque welcome the summer

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Loro Parque, although still closed due to the health crisis caused by the COVID-19, is still very active in social networks, sharing daily content about everything that happens in its facilities. This week, on the occasion of the change of season and the arrival of summer, the zoo of Puerto de la Cruz is welcoming the good weather classy with impressive images of the animals enjoying refreshing baths, fruit ice cream and the best climate in the world.

Thus, otters, chimpanzees, hippos, jaguars and tigers, among others, have been the protagonists of the content on social networks of this authentic animal embassy in recent days, anticipating the arrival of summer, which begins tomorrow, on Saturday the 20th of June.

In its publications, Loro Parque takes the opportunity to explain to its followers different curiosities about the animals, such as the dependence of the pygmy hippopotamus on water or the importance of environmental enrichment to ensure the well-being of the animals, to encourage their natural behavior and to keep them physically and psychologically active.

During this period, while publishing all its activity, the Park prepares to reopen its doors whenever possible, renewing its facilities and implementing all the necessary measures to guarantee the safety of its visitors in the face of the “new normality”.

Dr. Javier Almunia, director of Loro Parque Fundación, is re-elected president of the Iberian Association of Zoos and Aquariums

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Dr. Javier Almunia, director of the Loro Parque Fundación, has recently been re-elected as president of the Iberian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AIZA), a position he has held since April 2019 and which he now renews until 2024.

Currently, as explained Almunia, the organization has been focused on carrying out “intense work with the Institute for Spanish Tourism Quality (ICTE) and the Ministries of Tourism and Health to develop the guidelines for the sector that will allow visitors to return to zoos and aquariums throughout Spain safely. For the future, when normality is recovered, “the main focus of the Association will be to optimize the work of biodiversity conservation in zoos and aquariums to try to mitigate the effects of the sixth mass extinction”.

Javier Almunia has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and a Masters in Environmental Management from the Ecological Research Institute. He has extensive knowledge of endangered wildlife conservation projects, having carried out field research in the Atlantic, Indian and Antarctic ocean. He is the author of several dozen scientific papers and over a dozen presentations at scientific conferences on marine ecology, cetacean ecotoxicology, bioacoustics, ethology, etc. Currently, he is also president of the European Association of Aquatic Mammals (EAAM).

Almunia began working at Loro Parque Fundación in 1999 as head of Education and since 2003 he has held the position of director of Environmental Affairs, until he was appointed director in 2018.

Loro Parque Fundación, 100% for Nature

Since 1994, Loro Parque implements most of its Corporate Social Responsibility actions through the Loro Parque Fundación, an international non-profit organization specialized in the conservation and protection of endangered species of parrots and marine mammals, among other animals, that are in danger of extinction.

Every year, and thanks to the financing of the operational costs of the Foundation by Loro Parque, 100% of the donations received go directly to conservation and/or education projects “in situ” and “ex situ”. Thus, “100% for nature” is not just a slogan, but goes much further: it is a reality. Its numbers and results speak for themselves: more than 21.5 million US dollars invested in almost 200 projects on five continents and 10 species of parrots directly saved from imminent extinction.

Since last year, the Foundation has also been participating in a pioneering project, co-financed with the Canary Islands Government in a public-private initiative, with which the universities of the Canary Islands and the NGOs Elasmocan and AVANFUER are studying the effects of climate change on the sea. The project will invest two million euros over four years, divided into various lines of work ranging from the monitoring of marine chemistry parameters to the study of algae communities, angel sharks and sea turtles, with the aim of providing as much information as possible to monitor the effects of this global change on the archipelago and the whole of Macaronesia.

Distinguishing personal belief from scientific knowledge for the betterment of killer whale welfare – a commentary

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We contest publication of Marino et al. (2019) regarding captive killer whale (Orcinus orca) welfare because of misrepresentations of available data and the use of citacions that do not support assertations. Marino et al. misrepresent stress response concepts and erroneously cite studies, which appear to support Marino et al.’s philosophical beliefs regarding the cetacean hyphotalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

To be clear, these misrepresentations are not differences of scientific opinion, as the authors’ conclusions lack any scientific basis. More extensive review of Marino et al.’s citacions reveal a dearth of empirical evidence to support their assertations. Further, Marino et. al’s approach to animal welfare is not consistent with conventional veterinary approaches to animal welfare, including their apparent opposition to the use of preventative and therapeutic veterinary interventions.

While Marino et al. argue that killer whale’s cognitive and spatial needs preclude management of this species under human care, misrepresentation of the citacions used to support this opinion invalidates their arguments. Misleading interpretations of data relative to killer whales’ cognitive and emotional needs, as well as specious and unsubstained comparisons with states experienced by humans with posttraumatic stress disorder and other conditions, represent a number of strategies used to misrepresent knowledge regarding killer whale welfare. These misrepresentations and fallacies are inconsistent with scientific ethical standards for credible, peer-reviewed journals (ICMJE, 2018) and are barriers to rigorous discourse and identification of strategies for optimizing killer whale welfare.

Assertions in the paper amount to nothing more than a compilation of conclusory, philosophical statements. We would also like to mention that manuscripts such as Marino et al.’s do great damage to the fields of comparative psychology and to behavioral science as a whole.

Access the full document here:
https://escholarship.org/uc/item/6cj9473p

Type of MisrepresentationSelected examples [page numbers in Marino et al. (2019) in brackets]
FabricationMarino et al. stated that “regularly prescribed prophylactic antibiotics prior to even minor repair work in the stadium adjoining her tank” (p. 17) occurred for a single killer whale at a single facility, based on an unpublished self-citation (Visser, 2016). The Visser (2016) self-citation had a single mention of a whale stadium repair, and no antibiotics appear to be listed in the document. (See Appendix 1 for more information.)
DistortionMarino et al. stated that cetaceans “adhere to the classic HPA model” (p. 13) while the cited references state otherwise (for a full discussion, see the above section: Fallacies in Marino et al.’s argument that orca under human care suffer from chronic stress).

Marino et al. misused a citation on use of novel objects for environmental enrichment (Sambrook & Buchanan-Smith, 1997) to support a statement that “one of the greatest stressors in the lives of captive animals is their inability to control most aspects of their surroundings and lives” (p. 17). Sambrook and Buchanan-Smith (1997) did not use the word stressor, and “stress” is only included in Sambrook and Buchanan-Smith’s list of citations.

Marino et al. state that “The expansion of these areas in cetaceans is arguably associated with high-level cognitive and social functions suchas attention, prediction, social awareness and empathy” (p. 3). Neither citation used supports this statement. One of the citations used (Allman et al., 2005) is concerned with autism in humans. The second paper (Hof et al., 2005) is a self-citation, in which the words “attention,” “prediction,” “social awareness,” or “empathy” do not appear with an electronic search of the text.
OmissionMarino et al. state that “Gastric ulceration is often caused by prolonged stress, as well as being associated with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (Nomura et al., 1994)” (p. 8). However, Marino et al. failed to cite the extensive number of Helicobacter-related publications subsequent to Nomura et al. (1994) indicating that the organism is generally a commensal (nonpathogenic) and that it is also found in healthy free-ranging cetaceans (for more information see above section: Are killer whales’ physical needs met under human care?).
Cherry pickingMarino et al.’s section on self-awareness (p. 5) does not acknowledge that contingency checking is found in many species that never pass the mark test (Anderson & Gallup, 2015; Clary & Kelly, 2016), and that a 9fish species (cleaner wrasse, Labroides dimidiatus) shows both contingency checking and passes the mark test (Kohda et al., 2019).
Misleading vividnessUse of terms such as “commercial trade” (p. 2), “concrete tanks” (pp. 1-3, 10, 14-19), and “tricks” (rather than trained behaviors for husbandry or enrichment purposes) (p. 18), “dead fish” (p. 11), and dental pulps that are “necrotic, infected, or hyperplastic” (p. 11), are intended to evoke negative emotional connotations.

Referring to killer whale offspring as children (p. 7) invokes a human-based association instead of remaining objective. This contrasts with previous JVB publications, in which production swine are housed in “individual crates” (Oelke et al., 2018), Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in “transport systems” for aquaculture (King, 2009), and working therapy dogs studied in outpatient hospital settings (Clark et al., 2019). Similarly, nondomestic animals kept as pets or for exhibition were housed in cages (pet gray parrots, Psittacus erithacus; Greenwell & Montrose, 2017), cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) and tigers (Panthera tigris) were kept in enclosures (Phillips et al., 2017), snakes in enclosures or viveria (Warwick et al., 2019), gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in indoor habitats (Fuller & Allard, 2018), and dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) housed in open and closed facilities (Ugaz et al., 2013).
Snow jobExtensive discussion of encephalization, cerebral expansion, limbic system, sensory regulation, self-awareness, emotion, and other information (pp. 2-6) that does not specifically address the question of whether killer whale experience chronic distress that compromises their welfare.

Linking of killer whale welfare and killer whale attacks on humans (pp. 10, 33, 34) when they are distinct issues.
Draw your own conclusion/jumping to conclusions fallacyMarino et al.’s extensive list of medical and dental diseases (pp. 8-11) with descriptions of treatments that may be intended to evoke negative connotations. This contrasts with the context and consideration of how medical and dental care is viewed for humans and other species, as well as for untreated disease in free-ranging killer whale.
Red herring falaciesFour types of red herring fallacies are listed below.
Appeal to emotionReference to the negative emotional experiences of post-traumatic stress disorder (p. 16), learned helplessness (p. 18), and other psychological concerns of humans without documentation on the affective states of killer whales is misleading and lacks valid reasoning.
Appeal to consequencesMention of rare killer whale attacks on caretakers (p. 10) rather than acknowledgement of human-killer whale bonds or link to animal welfare consequences.
Appeal to natureMarino et al. argued that killer whales must be suffering from maladaptive stress responses (p. 13) due to the absence of opportunities for extensive travel, rather than considering the elements of why killer whale travel (e.g., to forage) and how relevant animal needs could be addressed under human care.
Association falaciesCorrelating Carnivora and killer whale behavior (p. 16) because both consume other animals, rather than accounting for different environmental and other factors.

The President of the Loro Parque Company launches a message of confidence in social media

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Wolfgang Kiessling, the President of the Loro Parque Company, has launched this weekend a video message of confidence in the social media of the zoological park located in a picturesque town of Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife. In it, he explained that both the animals and the Park’s staff are in perfect health conditions and he pointed out that they have sufficient supplies for the coming months, always working with great foresight to ensure that the animals lack nothing.

He also spoke about how the reduction in staff has been dealt with, “very carefully”, always having the welfare of the animals living in Park’s installations as a priority. Thus, the departments responsible for the care of the different species continue to operate normally, albeit in shifts, to ensure the health safety of the employees as well.

Kiessling also wanted to encourage all Loro Parque’s followers not to listen to unfounded criticism from animal rights activists, since most of them do not even work with animals and are not specialists in the field. “We know what we are doing, our employees are the ones who love the animals, who understand the animals, who live with them, who have their affection,” he said.

In the video that has been very well received in the social media, the President of Loro Parque has also highlighted the role of modern zoos as true embassies for wild animals. “In the time that I have been on this earth, and this year I will be 83 years old, global population has increased from 2,200 million people to almost 7,800 million today. We have reduced the habitats for exotic animals by 50%” and, in this context, he assures, conservation centers like Loro Parque are more necessary than ever.

Regarding the re-opening, Kiessling has communicated that he is very interested in reopening the doors of the Park, but that he will only do so when “the situation of the coronavirus is well controlled”, so that visitors are safe and the staff is not exposed to any danger.

Loro Parque donates fruits from its organic farms to the food bank of the foundation Fundación Canaria José Luis Montesinos

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Loro Parque made a donation of bananas and papayas from its own organic farms to the foundation Fundación Canaria José Luis Montesinos. Thus he strengthens its commitment to the local society on the island, even in these difficult times. The association picked up the fruits in the Loro Parque and brought them to their own installation. From there they will be spread among people in need.

The zoological garden in Puerto de la Cruz grows since a long time its own fruits and vegetables on an organic way, in order to supply their animals and even its own restaurants. Since 2018 the farms are registered at Instituto Canario de Calidad Agroalimentaria (ICCA), Canarian Institute of food quality, which guarantees the safety, reliability and quality of all its products.

Since the beginning of the health crisis caused by COVID-19, the park wants to thank all staff for their commitment, ensuring the animal welfare even behind closed doors, by offering them fruits and vegetables from their own garden. Now Loro Parque takes a further step by offering it also to the Fundación Canaria José Luis Montesinos.

Message from the WAZA President: Announcement of New WAZA CEO

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Dear colleagues,

I hope you are all doing well in these challenging times. I have been in contact with members around the world and we are all facing the same problems. But we need to remain optimistic and make the best of this situation, and I am sure we will emerge from this stronger than before.

In happy news, I am pleased to announce that after an extensive search and interview process, the WAZA Council has made a decision on the appointment of the new WAZA CEO. I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Martín Zordan as WAZA’s CEO.

We had an incredibly high calibre of candidates who applied for the role, but Martín emerged as the clear choice. During his time as Interim CEO of WAZA, Martín distinguished himself through service and results and has proven to be a very effective Interim CEO. He effectively led the association through some challenging times and circumstances and has helped bring WAZA to a stable position. The WAZA Council are very pleased with everything Martín has accomplished in the past year and are confident that he will be a strong and strategic leader for the association. WAZA has some exciting plans for the future and the WAZA Council and Martín look forward to working closely with all of our members, towards a future where zoos and aquariums maximise their conservation impact and work together as a global community.

Martín, a veterinarian who graduated with the highest honours, has a diverse professional background in science and conservation culminating in his work as Executive Director of the Latin American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (ALPZA), followed by his role as the WAZA Director of Conservation, and subsequently as the Interim CEO of WAZA.

Sincerely,

Theo Pagel,

WAZA President

Message from Martín Zordan:

We are privileged, we truly are. As progressive aquariums and zoos we can restore and create new connections between people and animals. We are able to share our passion for wildlife. It is a tremendous honour and responsibility to be at the service of this noble global community of aquariums and zoos. With a committed Executive Office and the support of the WAZA Council, we have three goals for the upcoming three years:

  1. Increase our members’ conservation impact and visibility thereof at a global scale
  2. Increase WAZA’s global representation
  3. Represent the highest standards of animal welfare – which we aim to accomplish through the WAZA 2023 Animal Welfare Goal

WAZA’s recognised regional and national associations of aquariums and zoos are at the heart of these and other developments, and they are essential to our success.

The current pandemic has turned our world around, but we will get through this. Our community is by nature immensely collaborative and experienced in working to manage the biodiversity crisis. We know all of our members are facing incredibly difficult situations during this pandemic, and our community is being challenged like it has never been before. Together we are adapting, becoming more globally unified, taking the opportunities that arise and getting ready to re-open. Our role in society at this time is clear, we need to help others recognise how strongly we are interconnected with nature, so that as societies we can act for species conservation and be safe through a One-Health approach.

As WAZA, we are here for and with you. I look forward to working together with all of you.

Best wishes,

Martín Zordan

AZA Chief Executive Officer

Loro Parque Fundación contributes to the reintroduction of six macaws in Ecuador

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The Loro Parque Fundación has recently contributed to the reintroduction of six great green macaws from Guayaquil (Ara ambiguus guayaquilensis) into their natural habitat. This success has been possible thanks to the work of the Jocotoco Foundation and the collaboration of other associations and local communities. This subspecies is in critical danger of extinction and only 60 individuals have been counted in the wild.

Therefore, the objective of this release is to increase this small population and its genetic diversity and, thus, be able to save the species from a more than probable extinction. In this sense, the Loro Parque Fundación has collaborated technically and financially through five projects in the conservation of this species with an investment of nearly $500,000 since 1997.

In fact, this is not the first time that macaws from this subspecies have been released in Ecuador. Previously, 14 birds had been reintroduced, two of them have been bred in the Ayampe Reserve.

On this occasion, the release of these three pairs born at the Jambelí Rescue Center took place in Las Balsas, in Santa Elena, because two of the previously reintroduced birds had been sighted there living with other wild birds.

As is usual in these processes, the six individuals first passed through a pre-adaptation phase, which lasted more than five months, in the Ayampe reserve of the Jocotoco Foundation. There, the males were fitted with satellite trackers in order to determine their area of distribution, breeding and feeding sites, etc.

Thanks to these modern satellite tracking systems, the tracking of these macaws in the Ecuadorian jungle is allowing us to obtain important scientific data for the protection not only of this species, but also of many others with which it is related, such as plants, insects or even amphibians.

Thus, once again, Loro Parque Fundación continues working for the conservation of parrot species inside and outside its facilities.

Loro Parque Fundación: 25 years of commitment and love for nature

In 1994, Loro Parque consolidated its firm commitment to environmental work through the creation of the Loro Parque Fundación, an international non-profit organization specializing in the conservation and protection of species of parrots and marine mammals, among other animals, that are in danger of extinction.

Each year, thanks to the financing of the operational costs of the Foundation by Loro Parque, 100% of the received donations go directly to conservation and/or education projects in situ and ex situ. Thus, “100% for nature” is not just a slogan, but goes much further: it is reality.

Its numbers and results speak for themselves: more than 21.5 million US dollars invested in almost 200 projects on five continents and 10 species of parrots directly saved from imminent extinction with the collaboration of other associations.

The president of the Loro Parque Company receives the award ‘Champion of Conservation’ from American Humane

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Wolfgang Kiessling, founder and president of the Loro Parque Company, has recently received the Champion of Conservation award from the American Humane organization (USA) in recognition of his leadership in projects for the conservation of species.

Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, said, “Loro Parque is one of the most respected zoological institutions in the world for its beauty, the excellence of its facilities and its incredible conservation work. In addition, she highlighted that the Park is home to the largest and most diverse reserve of parrots in the world and has saved 10 species from extinction thanks to the efforts of the Loro Parque Fundación in collaboration with other associations.

As for Kiessling, Ganzert said that his impact on global conservation efforts is truly remarkable, especially since parrots remain one of the most threatened species of all bird families. “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award,” she said.

For his part, the president of Loro Parque wanted to emphasize the role of zoos in species conservation: “Modern zoos are essential to counteract the dramatic impact of the current environmental crisis. In Loro Parque, our aim is to create sympathy, love and respect for wild animals and their ecosystems”. And he thanked the recognition: “I am proud to lead global conservation efforts for the incredible animals on Earth, and I am grateful to receive this award from American Humane.”

A success story

Loro Parque has received a large number of awards worldwide, which reward its commitment to excellence and its absolute concern for animal welfare. In its more than 47 years of history and after having received almost 50 million visitors in its facilities, the Park has been awarded the Plaque and Gold Medal for Tourist Merit by the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism; the Gold Medal of the Canary Islands Government, of the city of Puerto de la Cruz and of the Island Council of Tenerife, among other awards. Loro Parque is also the only company in the Canary Islands that has managed to be recognized with the Prince Felipe Award for Business Excellence, as well as the only zoo in Europe that has the “American Certified” Animal Welfare Certification from American Humane.

Along the same lines, the Park has been recognized this year as the best zoo in the world by the newspaper Periodista Digital, which awarded it the Travellers Award 2020 in a ceremony held in January in Madrid.

A ray of hope as Loro Parque welcomes an endangered ring-tailed Lemur pup

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In the midst of the health crisis caused by COVID-19, Loro Parque has welcomed a newborn ring-tailed lemur, strengthening its position as an authentic Animal Embassy. Although the Park remains closed, a new family member was presented in a video shared through its social networks, where news posts are published daily to inform its followers of everything that happens in its facilities.

The ring-tailed Lemur is a prosimian species endemic to the island of Madagascar whose population has declined by more than 50 per cent in the last 30 years due to habitat loss as a result of mining, logging and hunting, among other threats. As a result, the species is considered endangered and its presence in Loro Parque contributes to the awareness about the situation of this endangered species in nature and a need for its protection.

#AtHomeWithLoro Parque, Daily Content for the Whole Family

Loro Parque has started a campaign in its social networks with the hashtag #AtHomeWithLoroParque, through which it shares daily content about the activities that take place in its facilities behind closed doors. There, the animals continue to receive all the care to ensure their maximum well-being and the staff works with all the prevention measures recommended by the authorities to stay healthy.

Thus, the Park’s official accounts have increased the number of publications so that all its followers, from the leisure of their homes, could continue to learn about the important work that this wildlife conservation center does in terms of animal welfare, protection of endangered species, education and raising awareness.

More information here: