Two emperor tamarin twins are born in Loro Parque

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The health crisis caused by the coronavirus has never stopped life in Loro Parque. With the arrival of summer, as it has happened in previous years, the Puerto de la Cruz zoo has witnessed the birth of two emperor tamarin twins.

The parents had offspring for the first time in 2018 and the fact that they are still breeding is an indicator of the well-being of the animals in the Park and how well established this family of Saguinus imperator is.

In this species, it is the male (or another member of the group) who helps carrying the babies until they become independent of the parents, and who gives them to the mother from time to time to suckle. Three pairs of twins have already been born in Loro Parque, the last ones recently, and now they can all be observed living a family life in their facility, with even siblings carrying the newborns.

In this sense, it is important to maintain stable family groups so that the older siblings, during the process of collaboration, learn everything necessary to be successful parents in the future.

The emperor tamarin is native to the forests of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Peru, where it feeds mainly on insects, fruits, flowers, nectar and small animals such as frogs, snails, lizards or spiders. It has characteristic whiskers, claws instead of nails on all fingers except the thumb and two molars 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 minor concern in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, so it is not at risk of extinction. However, the size of their populations is declining and their habitat is shrinking due to residential and commercial development and deforestation, among other threats.

This family is part of an ex situ conservation programme of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA), integrated in the IUCN “One Plan Approach to Conservation” vision. In Loro Parque, they act as representatives of their conspecifics in nature, helping to raise awareness among visitors about the importance of protecting wild animals and their natural habitats. Furthermore, they promote knowledge about the species, its reproduction and breeding, information that is also very valuable for the protection of populations in the wild.

Orca Ula, Growing Strong

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Original source: http://www.cetaceanlifestyle.com/index.php/blog/610

Ula is a young orca that was born at Loro Parque and currently still resides there. Loro Parque is a zoological facility at the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife. Ula’s mother is the orca named Morgan, who was rescued and rehabilitated in 2010 by the Dutch Dolfinarium Harderwijk after she was found weakened and emaciated in the Wadden Sea. Morgan soon became pretty famous and gained media attention, first locally but then also around the world. When it was decided Morgan was not fit for release a struggle ensued. There were two parties: The Dutch dolphinarium and its followers who wanted to rehome the animal to a permanent rehabilitation location with members of her own kind and the animal activists, who thought the Dolfinarium Harderwijk had ill intentions by keeping Morgan in captivity. Currently, Morgan has been living at her new home and permanent rehab location Loro Parque, for almost nine years. The activists never stopped fighting against the fact Morgan was not returned to the wild and still intend to release her. Through the years they have taken Loro Parque to court several times and they always lost the cases. I connected with Morgan back when she was in Harderwijk and have been visiting Morgan through the years to see how she is doing. Of which many visits were also behind the scenes. Even when she turned out to be pregnant and even when her daughter was born. I write articles and observations of what I see every time. Blogs and articles about these visits have been published many times now, both on the internet and in popular media like newspapers and magazines.

How is Ula doing?

Ever since it was announced that Morgan was pregnant the internet exploded into a controversy. Activists say their point is proven now, that Morgan is just used to breed, to make more orcas and make more money. Ignoring the fact that reproducing is a very normal and important aspect in the life of a female orca. Any orca group relies heavily on social bonds and calves are a part of the group-dynamic. Besides there is no measurable increase in income whether there are five, six or eight animals in the habitat. As zoological facilities do not sell animals anymore, but instead exchange them for breeding programs there is also no money to be made on an extra animal by selling. If anything it will actually cost the park more because it is of course one more animal to feed and take care of. Apart from that there were other accusations; shortly after the birth Ula and Morgan had to be separated because Morgan did not produce enough milk. The intervention of the trainers saved Ula’s life! She was already visibly getting thinner. Milk is crucial for a neonate so action had to be taken. In the wild the first birth is often unsuccessful due to a number of factors; the staff was therefore already prepared for complications and could step in fast and in the correct manner. Meanwhile Ula and Morgan have been back together for quite some time now. Animal activists say Ula is not doing well at all and even manipulate photos to prove their point! In one photo they actually adjusted the contrast to such a high level that the normally yellow tank walls turned bright orange and even red.. to make it seem like there was something wrong with Ula’s skin. I take false accusations like this very seriously! Especially since there is nothing going on at all regarding Ula’s health. I have been to Tenerife three times now since her birth. I have made many photos and videos of her and nothing looks like the edited ones found on the internet. Ula is healthy and there are no abnormalities to be seen. a Team of vets  and experts have proven this time and time again, also in Morgan’s case. To me it almost seems like animal activists wánt Ula to be unhealthy or in a bad state just to prove a point, instead of believing and being glad that she is well cared for. This is why I conducted an interview with her caretakers again. I also took a LOT of pictures in every setting, from every angle and all her body parts. These are photos without weird editing tricks so you can see how she actually looks. 

Interview

Earlier I published an interview about Ula when she was born. By now she has of course grown a lot and made a lot of progress and development. I asked the following questions to her direct caretakers: 

How is Ula doing at the moment?

She is doing fine, is growing like a young orca should, growth is correct compared to Adán’s growth. We have the most experience in the world with hand rearing orcas (3 animals including Ula versus 1 animal at SeaWorld) so we know what her weight and growth rate should be.

Can you tell us a bit about her character?

She is very active, playful and very bright. She is a fast learner and social.

Last year Ula had started minor training, mostly medical. How is her training progressing?

Training is going very well. She is a very good student, very focused, a good memory. She is fully medical trained now. She gave her first voluntary blood sample this morning! Her medical training involves full body exams, fecal exams etc. She is now learning to follow her trainers around. As well as learning the gates and basic behavior. Currently we are doing basic slide out training. In this she mimics the other orcas a little bit, but she is also a bright learner on her own. It is kind of like homework to her, we can see her practicing things after the training.

Does she partake in shows and/or presentations?

She is in shows and presentation sometimes. Not every day and in very small segments. She gets excited and energetic in behavior when she gets to do this. Some people criticize us for having her in a show, but animals don’t differentiate normal training sessions and shows. To them it is all positive reinforcement. Refusing to do shows with the animals for political reasoning could cause stress/ harm as the animal would get frustrated if she cannot participate and others can.

Does Ula already consume bits of fish yet?

She is now on a 100% fish diet. She eats 11kg a day and currently weighs 510 kg. There is not much experience in zoological facilities about transferring diet from milk to fish. In fact we probably have the most experience in this, so it’s learning process.

How is the relationship between Ula and Morgan currently?

It was an Interesting transition. Morgan seems to see Ula as her baby and even tries to protect her a bit. Ula does not seem to think of Morgan as her parent. The trainers took this role in the beginning of her life. They do spend a lot of time together.

There was a time Ula was afraid of going through the gate to enter the show pool. Kohana ‘scooped’ her up, as we call it. Morgan allowed this. So she seems to accept Kohana interacting with Ula, while typically a mother would protect her baby more.

Has Ula met all the other orcas?

Yes she has. She has met all the orcas and they all interact as a group.

How did the introduction go?

In steps. We introduced her to one animal at a time. she interacts really good in the group. When all gates are open this also goes really well.

Does Ula have a preferred orca as company?

Her mother for sure. The two swim together all the time.

What is Ula’s place in the hierarchy currently?

She is currently the lowest in the hierarchy. Adan is low in hierarchy, so he is a bit rough with her. This is his way to try climbing up in the hierarchy. Because Ula is a female she likely will surpass Adan soon and at age 5 she will probably be higher than all the males.

Does Ula respond well to trainers now that she interacts more with the orcas too?

Yes, she still does. The trainers were a very important aspect of her early life. Ula is really excited to interact with anyone and very focused on people.

Ula does not seem to have any hearing impairment like her mother, is this true?

Trainers notice that she reacts to whistles. So far there is no reason to believe she has a hearing impairment. She is interacting with other orcas without problem so that gives hints as well that there is no problem.

Is Ula’s father known yet?

Keto was expected by trainers to be the father for a long time, but now it is confirmed by DNA tests as well.

Is there still any scientific research done with Ula?  

We did start research on how echo location is first initiated. There are sensors in the pool for that. Other than that we did not have any requests so we haven’t started more research. However, we also documented her entire growth process. This is also valuable research as we now know how to treat very young orcas. For example when there is a stranding or a rejected calf in a zoo. We consider this very important as well.

Are there any abnormalities with Ula, her health or her growth whatsoever?

As stated before, everything is normal

What does the (near) future hold for Ula?  

We are aiming on measuring her weight. We are teaching her to jump on the scale. This is of course very important. What we find most important is that she can live amongst the group, be part of the family and that she has all the mental stimulation and enrichment she needs. For her training we focus on teaching her to understand the signals, visual discrimination in different signs and learning to communicate with the other orcas.

Can you tell us a bit about the expansion of the orca habitat? 

We are still in the planning phase. We are still deciding how it should look, which dimensions and what kind of pools. We would like to add a pool for research and also a lot of enrichment. Both mental and physical stimulation is important for us. We are looking for all the newest enrichment methods around the world for this.  We also need to get the permits and other paperwork done. We expect this to take at least another year before construction can start. Our main goal is to improve the life of the whales. Note of the author: the initiation was planned before COVID19. The interview was conducted in March, right before COVID19 struck. The consequent closure of Loro Parque starting in March might affect these original plans.

Observation

I was lucky to join the Orca-Ocean team and Ula over the course of multiple days. I could observe and document Ula in every area of the habitat. I also witnessed some of her training sessions. To take pictures and footage for videos. This is my observation of that period: Ula is very active and energetic. This has been the case ever since I first saw her, shortly after birth. She swims very active with a high pace and surfaces very high and powerfully. She is very curious and always comes to look or gives a glance when you are near the barriers of the habitat. Ula loves enrichment such as toys and there is a whole array that is offered to her. There are also many sessions with her to keep her active and enriched. She is so big already! Especially the last months she grew so rapidly. She really isn’t a baby anymore. Her yellow skin also begins to fade already and bottle feeding is a thing of the past. a Remnant of her bottle feeding session can be seen when Ula encounters her trainers and caretakers. She curls up her tongue, like she would around the bottle and makes a short series of sucking noises. It is a kind of greeting to the trainers and very endearing to watch! Even though she eats fish now, she knows the connection between the trainers and the bottle. They have been there for her in the earliest stage of her life. This special little ‘greeting’ of her own gives her a lot of character. 

Ula’s  skin looks very good. Even her pectoral fin, where she had a minor infection when she was very young looks normal. She has an increased number of scratches and rakemarks since last time. This is the result of meeting and communicating with the other orcas. Adán plays the biggest part in this. He is pretty rough with Ula in an attempt to climb higher in the social hierarchy. Ula does get protection from her mother and even Kohana in this. I was also around the habitat when the animals had their “free-time” session. This is when they can swim freely through the tanks and decide where to swim and with which other animals they want to spend their time. Toys are also offered during this, so they have the option of playing with enrichment. Ula was mostly in the showpool and tried to climb onto the stage several times. This was pretty funny to witness as she can’t quite get there fully yet. She also liked playing through the glass. She used some of the enrichment, but her focus did not stay very long on one and the same toy. Often you would see her swim very actively and surfacing wit her head high out of the water. I saw Ula interacting with all the animals. She was almost always together with Morgan, unless the two had to be separated shortly for certain training sessions. It warms my heart to see that the two have such a strong bond. Ula is also very playful and even tries to coax the other orcas into play-behavior.  During training sessions she is very alert and has big, focused eyes on her trainers. She learned so much already! Apart from food rewards she loves to be touched. This was her primary reinforcement before she even began to eat fish. When the trainers have one of the “cuddle-sessions” she noticeably enjoys all the touching and attention. 

Conclusion

I witnessed Ula growing up during her young life. What I see is a young, strong and active young orca that is well cared for. Every day there is a whole team dedicated to keeping her and her podmates happy, enriched and healthy. I keep finding it absurd that the keeping of orcas at Loro Parque (and in general) has been criticized to such an extent. In my opinion orcas and other dolphins probably have the best and most advanced care of all animals in captivity. The keeping of these animals is so advanced and specialized. There is so much focus on enrichment, training, nutrition, health etc. When animal activists claim that the orcas are not doing well or are even abused I wonder how many of the people that claim this actually went to the park to take a look? (Or even ever saw an orca up close at all?) Did they educate themselves on the behavior of these animals and how zoological facilities take care of them? Whenever I am in Tenerife I also go to the park as a normal visitor for a random multiple days. My observations and findings are not different then compared to the times when I am behind the scenes. It almost seems, like I mentioned in my introduction as if people wánt the animals to be in a bad state. Simply to make a point or to ‘win’ the discussion. I hope that I can show you with my many blogs, articles and photos that there are always two sides to a story. Here are photos of Ula in every possible set ting of the Orca-Ocean, every lighting, evnuery angle and all her bodyparts, so you can judge yourself if she looks healthy.

The company ZEBEC donates to Loro Parque Fundación a prototype pontoon for the refloating of cetaceans

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This morning, on Tuesday, 30th of June, the company ZEBEC, manufacturer of the floats for the water park Siam Park, has delivered to Loro Parque Fundación a first prototype of a pontoon for the refloating of cetaceans.

The aim of the Foundation is, based on this prototype, to develop an optimized model for the rescue of stranded cetaceans, a work that will be done in collaboration with the University Institute of Animal Health (IUSA) of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC).

From this moment on, the pontoon will be at the disposal of both IUSA and the Canary Islands Rescue Centres that will request it in case they need to refloat a stranded cetacean. In addition, thanks to the tests carried out with the animals of Loro Parque and the stranded specimens of the IUSA, the system will evolve to improve its design.

This collaboration is part of the MARCET II project, in which there is a section dedicated to the design of new infrastructures and equipment for the handling of strandings. The final objective is that, once the design is finished, this type of pontoons will be available to attend cases not only in the Canary Islands, but in the whole of Macaronesia, and more especially in Cape Verde, where mass strandings of cetaceans are very frequent.

MARCET II: cetacean conservation and sustainable development in the Macaronesian Atlantic Area

The MARCET II project carries out several scientific and technological research studies that allow the evaluation and analysis of the impact of human activity on protected marine areas of the Macaronesian Atlantic, using cetaceans as protagonists not only because they are considered emblematic species, but also because they are bioindicators of the good environmental status of the marine areas where they live and contribute to the protection of the marine ecosystem. Likewise, this project contributes to the development of environmental and economic sustainability criteria, with special attention to the activity of cetacean observation.

MARCET II is an initiative led by ULPGC through IUSA and with the direct participation of other five institutions and organizations from the four Macaronesian archipelagos: PLOCAN; CETECIMA; Loro Parque Fundación; Turismo de Tenerife; CEAMAR; Universidad de la Laguna (ULL); Museu da Baleia de Madeira; Observatório Oceânico da Madeira; Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza IFCN IP-RAM; Direçao Regional dos Assuntos do Mar (DRAM); Universidade dos Açores; Direçao Nacional do Ambiente de Cabo Verde; Instituto Nacional de Desenvolvimiento das Pescas (INDP); BIOS.CV, y Associação de Biólogos e Investigadores de Cabo Verde (ABI-CV).

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.

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.

Loro Parque Foundation’s work succeeds in saving 9 species of parrots from extinction

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Thanks to its conservation efforts, the Loro Parque Foundation has managed to save a total of 9 parrot species from total extinction. Since its creation in 1994, the Loro Parque Foundation has supported conservation projects for endangered species with an economic contribution of more than $18,000,000. The change of threat category in many of these 9 species is a worldwide environmental conservation success that makes this non-profit organisation the most effective in this area internationally.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) ‘Red List’ groups the different species into different categories of threat: of minor concern, almost threatened, vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered, extinct in the wild and extinct. The psittacids – the parrots – are one of the most threatened groups of birds on the planet. Thanks to the efforts of the Foundation, 9 species have been saved from imminent extinction.

Below is a list of the species with specific information on each of the projects and their results.

Yellow-eared Parrot (Ognorhynchus icterotis) – Colombia

In 1998, there were only 82 Yellow-eared Parrots in Colombia. Over the years, thanks to the technical and financial support of the Loro Parque Foundation, with a contribution of more than $1,500,000 dollars, its population is currently around 4,000. Thus, its category has changed from ‘critically endangered’ to ‘endangered’.

This bird is directly linked to a local palm tree from which the leaves were extracted for religious and cultural celebrations. And the link between the two species is so close that if the palm tree disappears, the Yellow-eared Parrot becomes extinct. The use of artificial nests, several repopulation and local awareness actions with the indigenous population and their authorities were carried out with such success that, today, this species of parrot can be seen in flocks. Through the local organisation `ProAves’, measures have been implemented that have enabled local people to become directly involved and protect their unique natural asset.

Lear’s Macaw (Anodorhynchus leari) – Brazil

The Lear’s Macaw, a native of north-eastern Brazil, has historically been the victim of hunting, looting, habitat destruction and pressures of various kinds in an area where conditions are extreme. In 1994, the census was less than 200 individuals, but today there are 1,300 individuals, moving them from the ‘critically endangered’ category up to ‘endangered’. Loro Parque Foundation has supported different actions for the recovery of this species with more than $460,000.

Among the most relevant of the actions is that of compensating the region’s maize farmers, who blamed the damage to their crops on this species. Once the actual damage has been demonstrated, the creation of a fund generated from different institutions allows growers to receive payment of the corresponding amounts with the commitment not to kill the macaws to avoid the occasional reduction in their production.

The region in which they live, the Caatinga, (which means White Forest in the indigenous South American Tupi language, as in times of extreme drought the trees lose all their leaves and the ends of their branches become whitish) is very unique because, despite reaching high temperatures and extreme dryness, it harbours a great endemic biodiversity. At the same time, the recovery of this species assists the conservation of this area, which is very wide and difficult to cover.

The Loro Parque Foundation also participates in an ‘ex situ’ programme. In 2006, the Brazilian Government sent two pairs, which had been seized from illegal trafficking for reproduction, and the first breeding result was achieved after six months. Today, 32 of them have been born in Tenerife and 9 have returned to their country of origin, all of them forming part of the safety net of the species in controlled environments.

Blue-throated Macaw (Ara glaucogularis) Bolivia

Endemic to the vast plains of the Beni River, the Blue-throated Macaw, a true jewel of nature, did not exceed 50 specimens in the 1990s. Although still critically endangered, the populations that have been observed in the vast territory where they live now exceed 250 specimens. A large investment from 1995 to the present, of more than $1,500,000 dollars has made local populations aware of the danger to this species, which for years was exploited for the use of its feathers in traditional indigenous headdresses.

The development of artificial feathers and workshops to learn how to make headdresses with the substitutes, has allowed thousands of macaws, of different species to benefit. Fieldwork in conjunction with interested locals and their scientific institutions is making progress for this species which, given the uniqueness of its habitat and behaviour, requires a continuous effort over time.

Red-tailed Cockatoo (Aacatua haematuropygia) The Philippines

The Red- Vented Cockatoo project in the Philippines is one of the star projects supported by the Loro Parque Foundation. Thanks to the important efforts of the local NGO `Katala Foundation’, the various populations’ growth has been dizzying: from 22 in the 1990s to over 1,200 today, including the recent release to the wild of 7 specimens which were taken at an early age and later recovered from illegal trafficking.

One of its most illustrious protagonists, Indira Widman, recently received the Withley Awards for Nature and Conservation for her great work with this species, which, as its habitat is the islands, makes recovery and control very complex.

One of the most ingenious strategies developed has been to train prisoners in the local prison and former traffickers who plunder nests as ‘guardians of the wild’. They are now guards in areas where they themselves previously poached and now recognise the importance of the decimation of the populations.

Red-tailed Amazon, Brasil(Amazona brasiliensis) – Brazil

The Brazilian Red-tailed Amazon Parrot is an endangered species of the Atlantic rainforest, mainly from the states of Sao Paulo and Paraná (with very few individuals in the north of the state of Santa Catarina), in the southeast of Brazil. For more than a decade, the Loro Parque Foundation has supported activities for the conservation of the wild population of this species, and the efforts made have proved a resounding success.

In the 1980s, the total population of the Red-tailed Amazon was probably around 2,500, yet it is now estimated that there are more than 9,000 individuals, and the threat category of the species has been reduced from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’. The majority of the population – about 70% – is located in Paraná, where reproduction occurs on low-lying, forested islands along the coast. The forest is susceptible to disturbance, particularly due to the development of tourism and the felling of the tree species that this parrot prefers for nesting.

Consequently, Loro Parque Foundation has supported the environmental group ‘Sociedade de Pesquisa em Vida Selvagem e Educação Ambiental’ (SPVS) to monitor and protect its breeding areas, given that it is vital to involve the local population in order to preserve the trees on which the species depends, and it is encouraging to see how, in the short term, the use of artificial nests as an auxiliary system has given very good results and has had a direct impact on the increase in the numbers of the species.

Echo Parakeet (Psittacula eques) – Isla de Mauricio

The Echo Parakeet is the last surviving native species of the genus that once inhabited all the western islands of the Indian Ocean. They were common, but began to decline both in numbers and geographical distribution in the mid-1800s. In 1986, a population of only 8 to 12 individuals was estimated with just three females of an age to reproduce.

The decline was a consequence of the massive destruction and degradation of habitat, resulting in a shortage of native food-supplying trees and the large endemic trees needed to nest.

The recovery effort for this species was conducted through the ‘Mauritius Wildlife Foundation’, with which the Loro Parque Foundation actively collaborated to help meet its primary objective:- to establish a viable population of the Echo Parakeet in the wild. The programme made an important contribution to population growth, which reached 188 in 2003. In addition, successful releases of captive-bred parakeets were made, and a reinforcement of breeding between wild and captive-bred parakeets – one of the most relevant pieces of data was the reproduction of a captive-bred female mated with a wild male giving hope and viability to her species.

Twelve of these Mauritian parakeets, released during the breeding season on the island, survived in the native forests. As a result of all these efforts, continued over time, the growth of the species on the island continues to be exponential, with a census that today exceeds 500 specimens.

Blue-headed Macaw (Primolius couloni) – Peru

Peru, Brazil and Bolivia are home to the rare Blue-headed Macaw, although its localised populations are never very abundant. However, the global population is growing in numbers and its category of threat has also changed from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’.

The Loro Parque Foundation has funded field research for this species, developing field maps that describe the locations of the species that may temporarily be more or less abundant. Knowing the actual censuses of this species is the basis for its conservation, and its change in threat category does not completely ensure its disappearance in specific areas.

Horned Parakeet (Eunymphicus cornutus) – New Caledonia

In New Caledonia, a parakeet with a head adorned with elegant feathers has suffered for years from invasive species in its habitat, such as rats, which attack its eggs and chicks. Monitoring their territories throughout the breeding season, and identifying breeding strategies and habitat conditions for the species, have allowed it to thrive in recent years, moving them from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’.

To be able to identify the type of landscape in which they move, and to know their daily behaviour, as well as the problems they face, involves a great deal of research and technical work which, in this case, has given very good results.

Black-cheeked lovebird (Agapornis nigrigenis) – Zambia

Since 1997, the Loro Parque Foundation has collaborated with the Research Centre for African Parrot Conservation in South Africa researching into the populations of the Black-cheeked lovebird, a small parrot whose populations in south-western Zambia were little known.

Interestingly, this was one of the last parrots discovered in Africa (1906), and the populations that existed under human care in Europe were greatly reduced after the two world wars, which affected the import of specific grains into Europe and could influence future demands for catches.

Learning about its habitat, its biology in general, and interacting with local populations so that they can understand the importance of preserving it and how to do so has been crucial for the recovery of this species that is now, once again, abundant in the environment. The Loro Parque Foundation continues to support the research of this species in the field in order to have updated censuses.

Versele-Laga and Loro Parque Fundación enhance cooperation

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Versele-Laga and Loro Parque Fundación have agreed to extend and enhance their cooperation. That was announced during the International Parrot Convention in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife. More than 16 years ago, they joined forces, with a shared vision of nature conservation as starting point. Meanwhile, the connection between the non-profit association and the manufacturer of premium bird food is stronger than ever.

The Loro Parque Fundación cooperates with the famed Loro Parque animal and parrot wildlife park on Tenerife. The park houses the world’s largest parrot and parakeet collection and was recently voted the best zoo in the world by TripAdvisor. They both have as mission to protect the animals and their natural habitat and to preserve it for future generations, in order to bring people closer to nature again.

In 2002, Versele-Laga and Loro Parque Fundación found eachother thanks to that shared vision of nature conservation. Through this partnership, the Loro Parque Fundación is able to rely on the needed financial resources to carry out its mission of actively helping to preserve endangered parrot species. This is expressed, for example, in educational programmes, sponsorship of various research projects and an own breeding station “La Vera”.

The knowledge in terms of nutrition gained during these projects, is brought to the open market through the Prestige Premium mixtures of Versele-Laga. In this way, every bird lover can enjoy the developped expertise in terms of nutrition and support the Loro Parque Fundación at the same time. Thanks to this foundation, nine parrot species have already been saved from extinction, while for many other species the population in the wild has improved.

After 16 years of constructive cooperation, the connection between Loro Parque Fundación and Versele-Laga is stronger than ever. In the build-up to the ninth edition of the International Parrot Convention, it was also decided that the cooperation will be extended and furter developped in terms of nutritional studies, knowledge exchange and developments. This will result in an even beter protection and preservation of these unique birds.

Loro Parque: Thomas Cook influenced by activists seeking to destroy zoos

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Source: https://www.efeverde.com/noticias/destruir-actividad-de-conservacion-zoos-loro-parque-thomas-cook/

The decision by British Tour Operator Thomas Cook to stop selling tickets for attractions with orcas is clearly influenced by activists who are not concerned about animals but about destroying zoos and their conservation activities, warned the Loro Parque Foundation today.

The Director of the Loro Parque Foundation, Javier Almunia, made this statement to EFE after Thomas Cook announced on July 29 its intention, starting this summer, to stop selling tickets for attractions that show orcas in captivity, such as at the Tenerife zoo.

In this regard, Loro Parque expresses its gratitude to the over a million visitors who have visited its facilities with Thomas Cook over the past 45 years “during which we have not received a single complaint from even one of them regarding the welfare of our animals”.

Thomas Cook argues that its decision is based on scientific evidence but does not provide any, and argues that 90 per cent of its clients are concerned about animal welfare, which does not mean that they have expressed concern about the orcas housed at Loro Parque.

In fact, as Javier Almunia points out, in April 2017 Global Spirit, a company linked to the Born Free Foundation, inspected Loro Parque at the request of Thomas Cook to determine compliance of its facilities and procedures with the animal welfare standards of the British Travel Agents Association (ABTA).

The inspection obtained the highest score (100 per cent compliance), which ensures that not only the orcas, but all the animals in Loro Parque “have the best welfare conditions under the strict regulations” of ABTA, so Thomas Cook’s decision “not only diminishes the value of this inspection, but also goes against ABTA’s animal welfare standards, which are the most stringent in the world”.

At Loro Parque “one hundred percent of our members of staff” are concerned about animal welfare “and we are proud to work every day to give all the animals under our care the greatest love and respect” added the Director of the Loro Parque Foundation.

That’s why Loro Parque has obtained the highest marks, not only from Global Spirit, but also from American Humane, TÜV, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, the Iberian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the European Association of Aquatic Mammals and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums.

Javier Almunia underlines that this is clear proof of excellence in animal care and this is the main reason why Loro Parque has also been awarded the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice award as the World’s Best Zoo.

“There’s no doubt that many of the visitors who voted to award this prize to Loro Parque were clients of Thomas Cook” continued the Director of the Foundation, who affirmed that the entity is the most decorated zoo in the world and in Spain has received the highest distinction that any company can receive: the Prince Felipe Award for Business Excellence.

Loro Parque more than meets the most demanding animal welfare standards, which has been certified, as has the handling and care of their orcas, with which it does “exceptional” work.

In fact, Loro Parque Foundation is working with animal welfare experts at the University of Barcelona to develop a framework for measuring this factor “in close detail” in orcas, so that daily or seasonal variations that may occur due to differences in sexual or group behaviour can be measured more accurately.

Javier Almunia also points out that since the Loro Parque Foundation was founded in 1994, it has invested so far more than 19 million dollars in more than 150 conservation projects around the world. As a result, nine species of parrot have been saved from extinction and many others have improved their populations in the wild.

Thomas Cook’s decision “will not change our determination to continue working for the welfare of every animal in this world” and for the conservation of biodiversity on a planet threatened by the ‘sixth extinction’, as has been scientifically proved.

He also believes that, with 700 million visitors to zoos around the world, it’s clear that a visit to the zoo is a highly demanded activity which, in the light of the destruction of our nature and the environment, will become an absolute ‘must’ in the future.

“Fortunately, Loro Parque welcomes more visitors than ever before and even without Thomas Cook’s help, it will continue to offer everyone a unique opportunity to learn about the wonders of wildlife and be part of our mission: to protect and preserve animals and their natural habitats for future generations,” he confirmed.

Loro Parque congratulates Nestlé on its readmission to the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil

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Loro Parque has expressed its satisfaction with the news of the readmission of Nestlé to the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), after the company committed to comply with its regulations to achieve 100 per cent sustainable and certified palm oil by 2023. This step towards environmental conservation underscores the important role zoos like Loro Parque play in promoting a more sustainable world that respects nature and wildlife.

Following this news, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) has announced that it will continue to promote Nestlé, among the 700 million users who visit their members each year, as a brand committed to sustainability. In addition, they reiterated the importance for the Association and all the zoos and aquariums attached to it, of Nestlé working towards achieving 100 per cent sustainable and certified palm oil in all its products.

This commitment will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the environment, as the RSPO ensures that the plantations are managed and certified to ensure that they do not affect biodiversity, and that the production of palm oil – which, as far as consumer health is concerned, is like any other saturated oil – does not harm species that are in a serious state of vulnerability, such as Indonesian orangutans or elephants, by the transformation of their forest habitats into plantations.

Even if consumers are aware of the problem, without information they cannot choose to avoid products containing unsustainable palm oil. This is why, Loro Parque, through the Loro Parque Foundation and as part of its educational work, has been raising awareness of the effects of its use for years, and their support for this request from WAZA represents a further step in its deep commitment to the protection of biodiversity and species such as elephants and orangutans, which are in danger of extinction.

 

Loro Parque celebrates World Oceans’ Day

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The Loro Parque Company has dedicated today, Friday June 8, to the celebration of World Oceans’ Day at its facilities. This year, when the focus of action is on the prevention of plastic pollution and the search for solutions to keep the oceans cleaner and healthier, the Parks have carried out various educational and awareness-raising activities, which have enabled visitors to learn about the impact of the use of plastic in marine waters and to assess the adoption of responsible and sustainable habits.

In Loro Parque, the student finalists of the Sea of Science competition, which ended a few weeks ago in Poema del Mar, enjoyed an educational visit focused on marine exhibitions and were able to see for themselves the marine conservation projects implemented by the Loro Parque Foundation. In addition, the children of the Gabriel Duque Acosta school, who visited the park today, were able to enjoy a workshop dedicated to raising awareness of the marine biodiversity of the Canary Islands and the negative effects that plastic can have on it. In the recently opened aquarium in Gran Canaria, recycling workshops were held and several shark and turtle feeding sessions with expert commentary were also organised.

In a context where the mounting build-up of plastics in the oceans is seriously affecting marine biodiversity, the role of wildlife conservation centres in their protection is particularly important. Thus, through these actions, the Company seeks to make its visitors aware of the environmental problems faced by the oceans and the different species that inhabit them, with special emphasis on the effects of marine debris.

 

Loro Parque’s commitment to the marine environment

The Loro Parque Company has always maintained a strong link with the marine environment, to which the Loro Parque Foundation dedicates enormous efforts via the financing of different research and conservation projects.

One such outstanding venture is the Whale Bay project, which began last March on the island of Boavista, in the only known breeding site for this species in the North Eastern Atlantic, to monitor one of the four most threatened populations of humpback whales in the world. The number of females with calves has risen to 15-16, which is very acceptable given that no newborns were observed at all in 2016. Thanks to Whale Bay, scientific data has been collected to support the declaration of Sal-Rei Bay as a marine protected area for the conservation of humpback whales; a code of conduct or good practice among whale-watching operators and vessels will be promoted and adopted; and national and international biologists will be trained in basic cetacean study techniques.

Another interesting project, recently initiated in Sardina del Norte, Gran Canaria, is one linked to the protection of the angelshark, co-financed by the Loro Parque Foundation and in which the Poema del Mar aquarium collaborates with outreach work. It’s complementary to another one initiated in 2016 for the identification of specimens of angelshark and a subsequent census. The project seeks to contribute to the conservation of this species by means of its continuous monitoring and the establishment of movement patterns, the description of its habitat and public awareness of its existence and the need to protect it.

These two projects are in addition to many others in which Loro Parque Foundation is involved, and which provide a better understanding of the marine environment and the species that inhabit it, resulting in its protection and conservation.