Loro Parque releases a turtle found injured in Gran Canaria to the sea after recovering in the Aquarium

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Loro Parque Fundación recently returned a loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) to the sea that had been recovering at the zoo’s Aquarium for the last two months after being rescued on a beach in Gran Canaria with a fishhook inside its throat. Once the animal was transferred to the Wildlife Recovery Centre of Tafira, experts concluded that the most adequate place for its rehabilitation was Loro Parque, which has ensured a successful recovery and later reinsertion to the sea.

During the release, which took place at a Punta Brava’s beach, educators from Loro Parque Fundación and Pascual Calabuig, the director of the Wildlife Recovery Centre of Tafira, explained the importance of conservation and the endangerment of the animals by pollution, for example by plastic waste to more than 100 primary school pupils from the Punta Brava’s School. The most awaited moment arrived when students formed a central aisle, letting the turtle slide until its yearned destination: the ocean.

Ethical commitment of modern zoos to wild animals in need is an essential matter for the Foundation. Thus, it demonstrates its responsibility and readiness to foster and accommodate animals that need a temporary home – collaboration with other institutions is thus crucial.

Each year, more than 200 marine turtles arrive to wildlife recovery centres in the Canary Islands, most of them due to problems related to the impact of human activities in the sea; a great part of them can be recovered and returned to the sea. Loro Parque Fundación strengthens its commitment to raising awareness within the Canarian society on the need of acknowledging, protecting and conserving the environment and animal species.

A new hope for the Blue-throated Macaw

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Original article: A new hope for the Blue-throated Macaw

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The discovery of a new roosting site for Blue-throated Macaw Ara glaucogularis coupled with an innovative and successful programme geared towards promoting the use of artificial feathers in ceremonial headdresses, gives renewed hope for the survival of this charismatic parrot.

The Blue-throated Macaw is one of South America’s rarest parrots, with a population estimated at around 250 individuals. In the last decade, Asociación Armonía (BirdLife Partner in Bolivia) has been tackling the main threats affecting it: habitat loss, the lack of breeding sites and ending illegal poaching. But their approach to ending the latter has been especially unique and very successful: to give locals an alternative to using real macaw feathers for their headdresses.

During their traditional celebrations, the inhabitants of the Moxeño plains in Bolivia’s Beni department perform with colourful headdresses as they move to the rhythm of bongos and flutes. The dancers, so-called macheteros, dedicate their movements and attire to the colours of nature. Unfortunately, those headdresses are made of macaw tail feathers from four different species, including the Blue-throated Macaw.

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This is where Armonía’s Alternative Feather Programme comes in; it consists of an educational campaign promoting the use of artificial feathers made of organic materials among the macheteros through workshops held in local schools. Those workshops could only be made possible thanks to the financial support of National Geographic’s Conservation Trust and the Loro Parque Foundation.

Since the Moxeños consider themselves to be the guardians of nature and all of its creatures, they were quick to understand the importance of using substitutes.

“Each headdress is made of an average of 30 central tail feathers; that means that one headdress of artificial feathers saves at least 15 macaws,” explained Gustavo Sánchez Avila, Armonía’s Conservation Programme coordinator for the Blue-throated Macaw in Trinidad.

The programme, which started in 2010 with the support of Loro Parque Foundation, not only protects this critically endangered Macaw, but also empowers local craftsmen and women to preserve their natural heritage and their culture.

Furthermore, after seeing the mesmerising dances, many tourists buy the alternative headdresses as souvenirs, providing locals with much needed additional income.

Since 2010, the Moxeño people and Armonía have saved over 6000 individuals of four macaw species and engaged thousands of local people in the conservation of Bolivian nature. Most big Moxeño towns already host alternative feather training workshops, but rural areas still use real feathers. If you wish to help, you can support Armonía so that they can organise additional training workshops this year and save even more macaws.

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While conserving the already established populations of the Blue-throated Macaw is essential to their survival, further research remains vital to make sure none of its habitat is left unprotected.

However, entering the Bolivian northern Department of Beni during the rainy season is a huge adventure. As seasonal rainfall merges with melt water from the Andes, the grasslands become extensively flooded, making it impossible for cars to travel around the area for three to five months every year.

The situation forces locals to revert to their old ways, using horses to get across a savannah that is speckled with pools of water, knee-deep mud and head-high grasses. As a result, conservation research becomes complicated and expensive.

But this was not going to stop our team of conservationists at Asociación Armonía, supported by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Loro Parque Foundation, when they set off last summer to search for more roosting grounds of the macaw in this remote region.

The truth is that the team had had many rough failed trips in the region to verify sites where owners swore they had seen the parrot, only to find they got the wrong bird. So, when they got a call from a local ranch owner who claimed to have seen the Blue-throated Macaw in his fields, the team reacted with some disbelief.

They had seen this happen a few times already: while many ranch owners proudly believe that they have seen the Blue-throated Macaw, to the untrained eye it is often confused with a more generalist species, the Blue-and-yellow Macaw Ara ararauna.

Surprisingly, when they arrived on site, it turned out that at least 15 Blue-throated Macaws had made a small forest island their home. This new roosting site was confirmed only forty kilometres north of the Barba Azul Nature Reserve: the largest concentration of macaws in the world live here, with yearly counts of over 100 individuals.

At one of Beni’s most important events of the year, the Chope Piesta, the macheteros are getting ready to start their traditional dance. Today, headdresses with alternative feathers outnumber natural ones nearly five to one. In the meantime, conservationists rejoice about the new discovery of a roosting site. Developments worth dancing about.

First personality test on orcas

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Once again, Loro Parque –the best zoo in Europe and the second on the planet according to TripAdvisor– has become a world leader in research after receiving the first personality test performed to orcas.

This pioneering project was developed by biologist and primatologist Yulán Úbeda, who recently presented the study at Loro Parque facilities. The document features a qualitative study of personality, welfare and happiness of the orcas through a series of questionnaires given to the trainers, researchers and audiovisual managers of OrcaOcean. The questionnaires intended that the professionals who are in contact with the animal evaluate several variables that are essential to configure the data.

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The results from the study highlights that comparative psychology has led to the discovery that the personality profile of orcas is very similar to primates. Úbeda explains that “the similarity with chimpanzees is due to convergence, meaning that the personality of orcas could add a series of adaptive advantages to this species”.

Other conclusion drawn from this project, which will be extended to orcas in Marineland and SeaWorld, is that more extroverted cetaceans are happier, being this the first time that happiness is measured in this species. Furthermore, welfare is one cornerstone of this research supported by the Foundation of Loro Parque: the use of a tool without precedent able to evaluate the welfare of animals in human care, an unknown factor until now.

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Yulán Úbeda affirms that “the results are amazing, and the process would have been longer if a different methodology was applied. However, we had the questionnaires to make the assessment in a few weeks – which is currently is in pilot phase for the welfare item”.

Environmental education is a key factor to the Foundation, an organisation that seeks that current and coming generations defend and understand the true meaning of preserving the most important heritage of our planet: nature.

International Save the Vaquita Day

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Loro Parque Fundación celebrates the International Save the Vaquita Day with the launch of a set of activities to raise awareness of these small porpoises that live in the northern waters of the Gulf of California (Mexico), where there are only 60 individual of this species left.

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On the occasion of this day (July 9), the Foundation did its bit by screening a series of videos about the problems that these endangered animals confront in the wild. An explanatory roll-up was also placed at facilities of Animal Embassy, as well as a fishing net in which children hung colored vaquitas, simulating the gill used to catch the totoaba fish – the primary vaquita’s cause of death.

The illegal trafficking of totoaba –mainly used for the preparation of a soup with alleged healing properties– is done with nets that are lethal to vaquitas; they entangle themselves to death and their bodies lie abandoned on the beaches.

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According to the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA, from its acronym in Spanish), there were only 60 vaquitas left in December 2015, while there were 97 surviving individuals of this porpoise species in 2014. The result confirms the worse data: 40% of its population is gone during the last year – a precious time that has been lost to avoid the current bleak situation.

Hovewer, the recovery project is evaluating the possibility of establishing a captive breeding program until the problem with nets is resolved. Several zoo associations and dolphinariums have offered their full collaboration and knowledge, hoping that the decision is taken on time and not as happened with the Baiji dolphin, which became extinct without having decided to start a breeding programme in captivity.

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Environmental education is a key factor to the Foundation, an organisation that seeks that current and future generation defend and understand the true meaning of preserving the most important heritage of our planet: nature.

Marine conservation projects in the Canary Islands

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Last weekend, Loro Parque Fundación (LPF) organised a boat trip from Puerto Colón to show and evaluate the different conservation projects of marine resources that the Foundation develops in the Canary Islands.

The commitment of LPF and the insular Administrative authorities to protecting the marine environment and creating synergies amongst entities was highlighted by the President of Loro Parque Fundación, Christoph Kiessling, as well as the Director of Environmental Affairs of LPF, Javier Almunia; the President of Tenerife’s Council, Carlos Alonso; the councillor of Tourism of Tenerife’s Council, Alberto Bernabé; Fernando Rosa, lecturer at University of La Laguna (ULL); and the owner of the boat, Ibrahim Albani.

During the trip on board Blumaines, the lecturer and researcher of ULL showed the operation of an automatic sound detection system with a group of short-finned pilot whales, developed in collaboration with the Foundation. In addition, an ocean water test was performed with a surface fishing phytoplankton net to determine the presence of micro plastics in the water amongst zooplankton organisms – which form the basis of trophic chain that short-finned pilot whales, dolphins and large migratory species such as fin whales feed on.

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The Foundation promotes and funds projects for the marine environment in the Canary Islands that are related to the impact of halogenated pollutants and heavy metals in cetacean populations of the archipelago, but also to the conservation of the angelshark, the assessment of the status of the hammerheads; the analysis of acoustic communication in cetaceans and the conservation of the loggerhead turtle.

Overall, the projects of marine conservation of Loro Parque Fundación represent an annual investment of 200,000 euros.

Finalists of the The Sea of Science contest

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A group of 116 students, the finalists of the competition “The Sea of Science”, have recently visited Loro Parque. A contest organized by the Atlantic Association of Oceanographers is aimed at evaluating the best projects about sea biodiversity and increasing knowledge about our oceans using scientific methods.

The students who have been awarded with the “Ramón Margalef” and “Charles Darwin” prizes in representation of the Salesianos San Isidro, IES Barranco, María Auxuliadora and Tomás Morales schools enjoyed an exciting visit to the best zoo of Europe, according to TripAdvisor. As part of the visit they were able to hear about the most recent projects of Loro Parque Fundación dedicated to the protection of the marine environment.

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Furthermore, the students were able to learn first-hand about the medical training of dolphins, as well as about the daily activities of the majestic orcas in OrcaOcean. Thus, the Foundation has demonstrated, once more, its commitment to promotion of scientific research and education by taking part in the “The Sea of Science” project with the purpose of providing the Canarian students with a closer look at the important work associated with the conservation of the marine life in our seas.

This significant venture that counts with collaboration of the University of Las Palmas and Fred Olsen, among others, is directed at the public, subsidized and private educational centers that offer primary, secondary, high school and professional educational programs.

Loro Parque Fundación supports, on a regular basis, the local communities in the issues of raising awareness about the importance of the conservation of the marine biodiversity.

Studies About Parrot Intelligence

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The interesting studies that are carried out at the prestigious Max-Planck-Institute, which has an investigation centre at Animal Embassy in Loro Parque and collaborates in research with Loro Parque Fundación.

Loro Parque Fundación promotes Marine Conservation in Canarian Classrooms

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Between February and April this year, Loro Parque Fundación will provide awareness-raising sessions in various elementary and high school centres in the Canary Islands, thanks to an altruistic agreement signed Ministry of Education and Universities of the Canarian Government.

This initiative, which started in the month of February and is part of Experts in Animal Welfare programme, comes as a Loro Parque Fundación’s project to raise awareness amongst young people about oceans’ preservation and, especially, about the risks that threaten their integrity and sustainability. The project aims at triggering enthusiasm for marine environment and animal species.

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Ms. Soledad Monzón, the Councillor for Education, emphasized the “particular relevance” of the sea in our autonomous community. “In the Canary Islands, more than in other communities, it’s essential to raise awareness among young people about ocean’s key role in climate, temperature moderation and many other aspects”, Monzón stated.

These awareness-raising sessions, organised by Loro Parque Fundación’s Education Department, will last one week at each of the sixteen participating centres, and will be supported by diverse exhibition and graphic materials. In addition to these activities, sessions will integrate into academic syllabus and count with teachers’ collaboration.

Thanks to these sessions’ contents, Canarian students will learn about marine pollution, overfishing and threatened species. This knowledge will be strengthened by taking of marine samples and using the IT apps. Loro Parque will also distribute 3.000 tickets amongst centres, which belong to REDCICE (Canarian Network of Innovating Centres for Schooling Continuity), an organization whose goal is to prevent early abandoning of the school by the students.

Diverse elementary and high school centres from Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote participate in these sessions, while many other educational institutions of the Canaries are expected to join the activities, both in marine conservation and in other areas associated with animal welfare.

With this initiative, Loro Parque Fundación reinforces its commitment to raising awareness in the Canarian community about the need to get informed, protect and conserve the environment and animal species — a labour that has been undertaken by this non-profit international foundation in environmental education, research and biodiversity conservation since 1994.

Loro Parque Fundación ships nine Lear’s macaws to Brazil

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Loro Parque Fundación has recently achieved a new international success in its conservation and protection labour in nature. This week nine specimens of Lear’s macaw, born and raised in Tenerife, were shipped to its native Brazil to reunite with their companions. It is the most significant repatriation ever made to Brazil of these critically endangered macaws thanks to Loro Parque Fundación’s breeding centre after ten years participating in an international programme for their preservation. On February 24th, specimens will be welcomed by “Foz de Iguaçu” birds’ park’s technical manager, Dr. Yara Barros, accompanied by Juan Villalba-Macías, coordinator of Bioparque M’Boricúa and also a member of Loro Parque Fundación.

This initiative started in 2006 due to a request from the Government of Brazil to Loro Parque to bring its expertise in breeding and conservation of this species. Loro Parque Fundación was chosen for this mission due to its other notable successes in other rearing projects, in particular, with Spix’ macaws. In 2001, this species became extinct in nature and it survives in captivity thanks to the conservation programme initiated in 1990, in which Loro Parque Fundación had a key role, successfully breeding this species and contributing with USD 726.000 to the programme in Brazil.

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Responding to the request, Loro Parque Fundación received four Lear’s macaw specimens from the Brazilian Government in 2006 and, during the next decade, the foundation was able to breed 36 hatchlings. This marks the highest breeding rate for this species worldwide. Furthermore, Loro Parque Fundación supports local awareness-raising actions among communities of this bird’s natural habitat, having invested in this conservation project USD 387.000. Loro Parque Fundación’s significant participation in this international project has allowed for this species’ population growth in nature, counting 1.200 Lear’s macaws compared to 242 specimens registered in 2001. This success has been acknowledged by International Union for Conservation of Nature who saw it fit to make a decision to lower this species’ threat level from critically endangered to endangered.

Regarding Spix’ macaws, Loro Parque Fundación first returned, in 1997, all specimens’ ownership in its facilities to the Brazilian Government. Finally, in 2002, the foundation shipped all specimens at its disposal to Brazil, thus allowing the organisations like Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources or Chico Mendes Institute for Conservation of Biodiversity to take advantage of Loro Parque’s expertise in “blue macaws” breeding to reintroduce this species in its natural environment.

Since 1994, this foundation has centred its work in protecting the environment through international projects. Only in South America, Loro Parque Fundación participates in 58 projects, having invested up till now USD 6.409.005. Pillars of its activity are based on rescue, conservation and investigation, as well as carrying out education campaigns to raise awareness about menaces that threaten biodiversity.

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Loro Parque Fundación ships nine Lear’s macaws to Brazil

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Loro Parque Fundación has recently achieved a new international success in its conservation and protection labour in nature. This week nine specimens of Lear’s macaw, born and raised in Tenerife, were shipped to its native Brazil to reunite with their companions. It is the most significant repatriation ever made to Brazil of these critically endangered macaws thanks to Loro Parque Fundación’s breeding centre after ten years participating in an international programme for their preservation. On February 24th, specimens will be welcomed by “Foz de Iguaçu” birds’ park’s technical manager, Dr. Yara Barros, accompanied by Juan Villalba-Macías, coordinator of Bioparque M’Boricúa and also a member of Loro Parque Fundación.

This initiative started in 2006 due to a request from the Government of Brazil to Loro Parque to bring its expertise in breeding and conservation of this species. Loro Parque Fundación was chosen for this mission due to its other notable successes in other rearing projects, in particular, with Spix’ macaws. In 2001, this species became extinct in nature and it survives in captivity thanks to the conservation programme initiated in 1990, in which Loro Parque Fundación had a key role, successfully breeding this species and contributing with USD 726.000 to the programme in Brazil.

guacamayo_lear_blog

Responding to the request, Loro Parque Fundación received four Lear’s macaw specimens from the Brazilian Government in 2006 and, during the next decade, the foundation was able to breed 36 hatchlings. This marks the highest breeding rate for this species worldwide. Furthermore, Loro Parque Fundación supports local awareness-raising actions among communities of this bird’s natural habitat, having invested in this conservation project USD 387.000. Loro Parque Fundación’s significant participation in this international project has allowed for this species’ population growth in nature, counting 1.200 Lear’s macaws compared to 242 specimens registered in 2001. This success has been acknowledged by International Union for Conservation of Nature who saw it fit to make a decision to lower this species’ threat level from critically endangered to endangered.

Regarding Spix’ macaws, Loro Parque Fundación first returned, in 1997, all specimens’ ownership in its facilities to the Brazilian Government. Finally, in 2002, the foundation shipped all specimens at its disposal to Brazil, thus allowing the organisations like Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources or Chico Mendes Institute for Conservation of Biodiversity to take advantage of Loro Parque’s expertise in “blue macaws” breeding to reintroduce this species in its natural environment.

Since 1994, this foundation has centred its work in protecting the environment through international projects. Only in South America, Loro Parque Fundación participates in 58 projects, having invested up till now USD 6.409.005. Pillars of its activity are based on rescue, conservation and investigation, as well as carrying out education campaigns to raise awareness about menaces that threaten biodiversity.

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