The Value of Having Cetaceans in Human Care at Accredited Aquariums and Zoos

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Source: https://www.aza.org/from-the-desk-of-dan-ashe/posts/the-value-of-having-cetaceans-in-human-care-at-accredited-aquariums-and-zoos

I’ve spent my entire 37-year career in the field of conservation. I can count many accomplishments, but few make me prouder than those opportunities when I’ve been able to support the protection of places, great and small, but especially the areas that stand apart as ecosystems unto themselves — like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. These are amazing places, increasingly rare in a world where human populations are continuing to expand in numbers and affluence. They are increasingly hard to protect, as illustrated in our government’s current headlong rush to allow oil developers into the Arctic Refuge’s coastal plain; its biological heart.

If we are going to protect these great places, providing homes for the creatures, great and small, that depend upon them, we must nurture a public that sees the protection of these places as relevant and essential. This is challenging in a world where people are rapidly evolving into urban and indoor creatures. Here in the US, 82% live in and around cities, and we spend 93% of our time indoors. Will we spend our time and money and cast our votes to support conservation of wildlife and places from which we are increasingly disconnected? Unfortunately, growing evidence seems to indicate the answer is “No.”

We need to do better.

A bright spot – and an opportunity to create more engaged, aware and actively conservation-minded citizens – is the community of purposeful, mission-driven, zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). More than 200 million guests will visit AZA members in the coming year. Yes, they will have fun! Moreover, they will leave with a better understanding, empathy, and inspiration for the animals they see and the need to protect their wild brethren and their homes.

There is controversy about keeping animals in human-care — some like to say, “captivity.” That controversy is sharpest around animals that are large, social, emotional, and highly mobile, like elephants, great apes, and cetaceans (especially whales, dolphins and porpoises). However, humans are tactile animals, meaning we connect with things we can see, smell, touch, and sense. That’s as true for dolphins and whales, as it is for tigers, tortoises, or tadpoles.

It is also why I stand squarely with AZA’s accredited members caring for cetaceans. Sure, it’s amazing to see wild dolphins or killer whales, but most people will never have that opportunity. And honestly, we don’t want 7.5 billion people rushing out into nature to watch whales and dolphins. And they don’t have to, because they can see them in responsibly-managed facilities, like SeaWorld, Georgia Aquarium, Shedd Aquarium, and Texas State Aquarium, where they receive exceptional care, while also serving as amazing ambassadors for wild nature.

Recently, there has been an increase in the debate over the importance and value of having these animals in human care and on display. Cetaceans have been in the care of AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos for more than 50 years. During that time, we have made great strides in understanding the natural history, reproduction, care and behavior of these incredible animals. In turn, these facilities work hand-in-hand with government, non-profits, and other partners to advance ocean conservation and research projects to benefit these animals in the wild.

Most certainly, we must provide the very best standard of care. We must be dedicated to continual improvement. And at AZA, we are. If you have any doubt, the best way to judge is to see it for yourself. Visit! Talk to a keeper or trainer or aquarist. Ask them hard questions. I’m confident that they will have good answers for you. Answers that address the care they provide, and answers about the benefits of sharing these animals with their guests.

At a time when we need to be uniting to help save these magnificent creatures, we seem to be dividing ourselves.

It was disappointing last week when the British travel agency, Thomas Cook, announced that beginning in 2019 they would no longer sell tickets to SeaWorld. SeaWorld is a member and leader in the AZA community, and a long-time and established leader in marine mammal care, conservation, research, and rescue. Thomas Cook’s decision came on the heels of SeaWorld receiving a 100% passing score, based on the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism. So, SeaWorld met their animal welfare standards, and Thomas Cook is penalizing them nonetheless.

If you want to see a more responsible travel agency position, take a look at the animal welfare policy of Attraction Tickets Direct (ATD), which is also an ABTA member: https://www.attraction-tickets-direct.co.uk/animal-welfare

ATD actually follows the ABTA welfare assessment standards and also recognizes the value of rigorous accreditations, like AZA’s.

Previous to joining AZA, I served as Director of the world’s largest wildlife conservation organization — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I know how people would react if I acted like Thomas Cook did with SeaWorld, ignoring science and standards, and instead, making an arbitrary and intolerant decision. They would be outraged!

Today, our world is too full with intolerance and outrage, so I simply would ask that Thomas Cook revisit their decision. If you think SeaWorld can do more and better, try a novel approach — ask them.

Trying to punish them economically may feel righteous, but it will target the thing that most needs our help — wild marine mammals. We need a connection to nature and inspiration to save it; we get that when we visit places like SeaWorld. We need great institutions — government, non-profit and for-profit — with cultures of service and social responsibility; SeaWorld has a proven record. We need concerned citizens to unite; there are too few of us; let’s not divide and conquer ourselves.

Thomas Cook, you made the wrong choice! Please reconsider. Let’s join together and help create a world where all people respect, value and conserve wildlife and wild places. That’s our vision!

Siam Park is celebrating – five-times World Champion in TripAdvisor

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As its tenth anniversary commemoration is just around the corner, and after a long history of recognition, Siam Park has made history again by pulling off an unprecedented achievement.  For the fifth consecutive year, TripAdvisor has awarded them the Travellers’ Choice Award for the Best Waterpark in the World thanks to the positive feedback from visitors, demonstrating that the success of its management lies in a perfect balance of quality, innovation and excellence.  In fact, this combination has put it in a dominant position: Not only is it the only park to have won this award so many times in a row, but it’s also the only one to have received it since TripAdvisor inaugurated the ‘waterparks’ category five years ago.

The Loro Parque Company, to which this water attractions theme park belongs, has highlighted the special honour that this recognition represents, granted as it is by visitors to the Park and users of the TripAdvisor travel portal based on their independent opinions founded on their experiences.

Blanca Zayas, Communications Director at TripAdvisor Spain, affirmed “Siam Park has achieved what no other theme park in the world has achieved: to position itself as the best waterpark for the fifth consecutive year in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards, an honour that gives us a great reason for pride here in Spain.  She added that “positioning itself as number one for so many years in a row is a quality seal recognised by users around the world and will undoubtedly open more doors to both national and international tourism”.

Adrenaline-pumping, fun-filled novelties

The news, received with great joy, comes in the middle of the presentation and opening of two new attractions.  Patong Rapids is a new Siam Park challenge that breaks with all the moulds, surpassing the already incredible Mekong Rapids.  It runs over a 235 metre course and includes an area of complete darkness.  With a capacity of 1,200 people per hour, it minimises waiting time to enable Park visitors to enjoy its incredible switchback curves to the limit, and includes impressive disc floats that allow you to experience a unique feeling of speed and adrenaline. Coco Beach is a new children’s playground that will allow youngsters to experience great adventures with their families.  You will be able to enjoy new and incredible sensations in the new over 1,000 m2 wave pool, suitable for the younger members of the house, simulating the famous ruins of Angkor Wat.  These new attractions, along with other surprises that are yet to come, will offer visitors adrenaline and fun in equal parts, and will attract audiences of all ages, expanding an offer that its users have distinguished as the best in the world.

 Commitment to the environment

Siam Park rigorously follows a totally environmentally friendly philosophy, employing the latest technological developments in every detail.  Thus, the water that feeds the Park is part of a closed circuit that begins at sea, and the CO2=0 formula is applied, which means that local products are mainly used in the restaurants and cafeterias, thus minimising the carbon footprint associated with the transport of imported products.  This commitment to the environment has earned Siam Park the Biosphere Park certificate from the UNESCO-linked Institute for Responsible Tourism (ITR), which accredits their responsibility towards the environment, in addition to the ISO 14000, ISO 9000 and EMAS certificates.

Everything is ready at Loro Parque to welcome Morgan’s calf

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Loro Parque, the best zoo in the world according to TripAdvisor, already has everything ready to receive Morgan’s calf, which is expected to arrive by the end of summer.  Both the Parque’s veterinarians and the external consultants, who monitor Morgan’s pregnancy closely, have been working to ensure that all aspects are under control to deal with any situation that may arise at the time of birth.

Dr. Geraldine Lacave, a Belgian veterinary & specialist in marine mammal, who has been a consultant to Loro Parque for over 10 years, explained how thorough the checks on Morgan’s pregnancy are carried out, thanks to an ultrasound scanner that examines her almost daily and controls that everything is going perfectly, both with Morgan and with the foetus.

The aim now, is to determine as precisely as possible the date of birth as, although some indicators are known, there is generally little experience with the birth of these animals.  To this end, they regularly monitor Morgan’s body temperature, because it is known to drop by one degree about 24 hours before the calf is born; they measure the circumference of different parts of her body, because it’s expected to grow considerably a few weeks prior to birth; they update a behavioural record in which they monitor her swimming style, her relationship with other animals, etc., and calculate the distance between the two breast folds, which will be greater in the days leading up to calving, among other indicators.

Dr. Jorge Soares, Veterinary Director of Loro Parque, has pointed out that Morgan’s history throws some uncertainty over the immediate moments of childbirth, because it could have an impact on her behaviour as a first time Mum, and it’s not known how she and the rest of the group will react.  That is precisely why there is a whole team of experts who work daily to be prepared for any circumstance.

In this regard, Dr. Lacave explains that an action protocol has been prepared in the event that there is a difficult birth.  Although what is most likely, she says, is that “The baby will be born, rise to the surface, breathe, and then go swimming peacefully off with its mother” it would also be within the bounds of normality for Morgan or the baby to need some help.  In which case, all personnel are prepared to act.

In addition, as soon as the estimated date of birth approaches, a round the clock guard will be activated augmenting the usual 24-hour security surveillance on the premises.  Thus, a team of people will continuously observe Morgan’s behaviour, breathing rate, activity, etc.  “The trainers live with these animals every day, they know them very well and they are likely to detect their behavioural changes more accurately than any scientific indication,” says Lacave.  This watch will be extended once the calf is born at least for a while, to check that everything is going well.  Loro Parque is finalising the development of a tablet application that will allow them to record, analyse and share in real time all the data collected in the observations (respiratory rate, lactation, behaviour, etc.) with the veterinary staff and external consultants.

Both Soares and Lacave explain that, in cetaceans, babies’ immune systems are very weak, since, for a short period of time – about a month, they receive immunity through colostrum and breast milk – known as passive immunity, and then begin to form their own immunity little by little until they reach adulthood about a year later.  Hence the sensitivity of this first phase, in which any injury or infection could pose many risks.  However, these are inferences made from the study of dolphins, of which much more is known, because not many people have handled such a young baby orca.

Therefore, this is a great opportunity to learn more about orca calves and breeding, which will help populations in the wild.  Given that the current population of killer whales in the Western Pacific area is believed to have been sterile for some years now due to the concentration of chemical contaminants in the water, all the knowledge that a case such as Morgan’s can provide will be of enormous value.

In Loro Parque, where the news of this orca’s pregnancy at the end of last year was a source of great joy, everyone is looking forward to the arrival of the calf.  “We hope that in September we will have a new super-healthy orca and a super-happy Mum in Morgan” says Soares.

Loro Parque introduces new tropical fruit to its organic crops

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Loro Parque, the world’s best zoo according to TripAdvisor, continues to strengthen its commitment to sustainability thanks to the advances it has made in its organic farming, which supplies food for its animals and even its restaurants.  This year, its farms have been registered with the Instituto Canario de Calidad Agroalimentaria (ICCA) – Canarian Institute of Food Agriculture – which guarantees the safety, reliability and quality of all its products.

The novel tropical crops that the Parque has recently introduced to its farms, such as lychee, longan, red and green atemoya, custard apple, soursop and tree tomatoes, are used to make juices for customers and can also be included in the diet of some animals.  These new species bring even more balance to the rich and varied diet of Loro Parque’s animals, which also enjoy fruit such as different varieties of mango from different continents, star fruit and papaya.

All the products from the farms of the Portuense Zoo are treated biologically and ecologically, and recently, predatory insects that are beneficial to the plantations have been used to combat other harmful insects without causing any damage to the crops.  In the case of banana plantations, for example, pheromone traps have been set and bugs have been released to eliminate red spider mites.

In addition, we have continued to look after our vegetable cultivation, trying to recover the old Canary potato strains for the Parque’s restaurants and introducing other vegetables such as peppers, with the aim of having them available all year round and thus be able to offer them to animals and customers.  Like the other plantations, their treatment is totally ecological and no insecticides are used that could leave any kind of residue.  As reinforcement, sulphur-based products which are environmentally friendly are used to increase pollination.

Loro Parque asks Nestlé to comply with the regulations of the Round Table agreement on Sustainable Palm Oil

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Loro Parque has joined the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) in asking Nestlé to return to compliance with the regulations of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), from which it was suspended on June 28.  WAZA and several of its members, such as the Portuense zoo, have asked this food giant to submit a detailed report explaining that it will henceforth commit itself to using sustainable and certified palm oil, or at least will work towards achieving sustainability in the medium to long term.

In this formal petition, the zoological institutions state that they would prefer to promote Nestlé, among the 700 million users who visit them each year, as a brand committed to sustainability.  If they do not comply with the requirements of the RSPO within the established term, they assure that they will reconsider their relationship with the company and will even stop selling their products in their parks.

The impact of the exploitation of oil palm trees on biodiversity is such that some species are in a serious state of vulnerability due to the transformation of their forests into plantations.  This is the case of Indonesian orangutans which are critically endangered and elephants, which have seen their habitats progressively depleted by deforestation.

But even if consumers are aware of the problem, without information they cannot choose to avoid products containing palm oil.  For this reason, 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 support for this request from WAZA represents a further step in its commitment to the protection of biodiversity and species such as elephants and orangutans, which are in danger of extinction.

Loro Parque, as a wildlife conservation centre, will closely monitor the evolution of this case and take steps, if necessary, to ensure the exclusive promotion of products that use certified and sustainable palm oil, or those products that have already taken steps to achieve medium to long term sustainability.

The Loro Parque Foundation promotes a project to study the effects of climate change in the sea

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Loro Parque Foundation is launching today, Friday July 13, a pioneering project to study the effects of climate change in the sea, with the support of the Canary Islands Government.  The project foresees an investment of two million euros over four years, spread over several lines of work, ranging from the monitoring of marine chemistry parameters to the study of algae, angelsharks and sea turtles. The institution, based in what has been recognised as the world’s best zoo, will thus help to provide as much information as possible to monitor the effects of this global change on the Canary Islands.

This agreement between the Foundation and the Canary Islands Government has been reached after a detailed technical evaluation with research groups from the two Canary Islands universities and other scientific research centres, and will initiate the development of a coastal network to monitor marine environmental parameters linked to climate change, ocean acidification and underwater noise pollution, as well as their effects on marine biodiversity in the Canary Islands.

The project’s activities will focus on three main themes: CO2 absorption in the ocean, climate change and ocean acidification; the acoustic environment, underwater noise and its effects on marine fauna and the loss of marine biodiversity and the effects on island species and marine ecosystems.

All these actions establish synergies with previous activities of the Loro Parque Foundation in the archipelago and, in each case, will allow us to obtain essential information with which to interpret the effects that global change will produce on the marine organisms of the Canary Islands and the Macaronesia.  Thus the region will become a world reference point, providing relevant data on climate change for the international community, while at the same time helping to diagnose the effects of global change in the region.

In addition, this agreement will lay the foundations to guarantee the future development of time-series stations and oceanic measurements in the region, with technology produced in the Canary Islands.  Hereby, Loro Parque Foundation reinforces its commitment to becoming a scientific and technological reference within the framework of global change and the Blue Economy.

The Loro Parque Foundation draws attention to the imminent disappearance of marine vaquitas

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Loro Parque Foundation dedicated the weekend to raising awareness about the status of the vaquita, the world’s most endangered cetacean, which is on the verge of extinction.  On the occasion of the celebration of the International Day to Save the Vaquita, the Foundation organised various activities in Animal Embassy – its headquarters in Loro Parque – which alerted Parque visitors to the imminent disappearance of the species.

The exhibition of a large net with 18 vaquitas hanging from it – the number estimated by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature that remain in the world – that visitors could paint and personalise as they passed through Animal Embassy, had a significant impact.  It was a graphic representation of the agonising situation faced by these cetaceans, which seem so difficult to save from extinction.

Also, as part of this campaign, the Loro Parque Foundation has joined the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA) in distributing a video that gives a voice to the marine vaquitas and can be viewed at the following link: http://wildlensinc.org/wildlifespeaks/vaquitapsa/english.

Supporting a cause such as that of the vaquitas, both the Loro Parque Foundation and Loro Parque reiterate the importance of zoos and aquariums for the conservation of endangered species by creating a genetic reserve to ensure their survival.  In addition, they strengthen the importance of their role in increasing existing knowledge about the different species, because all the information that has been provided by the breeding of other cetaceans under human care could be applied, for example, to the vaquitas.

Although it may be too late to breed these cetaceans of the Gulf of California under human care, and thus avoid their extinction, their case should serve as an example for the future, to protect other species against this fatal outcome that, in the case of the vaquitas, seems imminent.

To learn more about the cause: http://vaquitafilm.com.

Loro Parque Foundation opens the window for the reception of new projects for 2019

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Loro Parque Foundation has announced their deadline for the reception of new projects for 2019.  They will accept new proposals until Wednesday, August 15.  The Foundation will distribute US$ 1,000,000 among all the selected projects, which will be evaluated by a committee of independent experts.

This international non-profit institution, whose main sponsor is Loro Parque, supports projects that focus primarily on parrots and marine animals, with the particular aim of improving the conservation status of endangered species.  In addition, through its activity, it also promotes the conservation of their habitats and of biodiversity in general.

Thanks to the fact that the Parque, considered the best zoo in the world according to TripAdvisor contributors, covers all the expenses of the Foundation, 100 per cent of all donations are used for environmental protection.  Over the years, more than 150 projects have been carried out with their support.

Outstanding 2018 projects

Among the list of this year’s 2018 projects is Whale Bay, which began last March on the island of Boavista to monitor one of the four most threatened populations of humpback whales in the world, in the only known breeding site for this species in the Eastern North Atlantic.  The number of females with calves was 15-16, which is quite acceptable considering that no newborns were observed 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.

Throughout this year and thanks to the support of the Loro Parque Foundation, Guayaquil Great Green Macaws (Ara ambiguus) have been released in Ecuacor.  They were all born in controlled environments and came from confiscated poaching specimens.   Thanks to modern satellite systems, the monitoring of these macaws in the Ecuadorian jungle is allowing us to obtain scientific data of great importance for the protection of this species and all those related to it, such as plants, insects and even amphibians.

Another interesting project, recently started in Sardina del Norte, Gran Canaria, is one of ElasmoCan’s projects linked to the protection of the Angelshark, co-financed by Loro Parque Foundation and in which Poema del Mar is collaborating with outreach work.  It’s complementary to another undertaking initiated in 2016 for the identification of Angelshark specimens and the subsequent carrying out of a census, and 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.

A final fascinating project is that of the Lear’s Macaws of Brazil, a seriously threatened bird in one of the driest regions of the country.  Four birds were entrusted to the Foundation in Tenerife by the Brazilian government and after just a few months they had reproduced to over thirty specimens.  Since the start, nine specimens have already been sent to their country of origin and more will soon be added to complete the recovery of this species in its natural environment, where scientific studies have been carried out at all levels.

Nine species saved from extinction

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

The species that have been saved from imminent extinction are: the Colombian Yellow-Eared Parrot, Brazil’s Lear’s Macaw, the Blue-throated Macaw of Bolivia, the Red-vented Cockatoo of the Philippines, the Red-tailed Amazon of Brazil, the Echo Parrot of Mauritius, the Blue-headed Macaw of Peru, the Horned Parakeet of New Caledonia and the incomparable Black Cheeked Lovebird of Zambia.

Interested organisations can download the application form at: http://www.loroparque-fundacion.org/forms/application_form_2019_eng.pdf

Loro Parque Foundation and the Dialprix Blue Running race join forces in favour of marine turtles

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Loro Parque Foundation and the Dialprix Blue Running race have joined forces for the fourth edition of this event, which was held on Saturday, June 30, with the aim of raising public awareness of the need to protect the marine turtles of the Islands.

Of each registration fee received, €3 has been donated to the project for the recovery and protection of sea turtles in the Canary Islands and, in addition, as part of the event, a turtle recovered by La Tahonilla Centre for the Recovery of Wild Fauna (CRFS) was released back into the sea.

The race event, which chooses a social or environmental cause to support each year, was a perfect event for nature lovers, dedicating all its efforts to raising awareness among runners and the public about the need to protect the natural environment.  This year, for example, no plastic cups were supplied and participants were urged to use their own containers, refilling them as many times as needed, thus avoiding the contamination of the oceans with plastics – a cause to which the Foundation has maintained a firm commitment since its inception.

Recovery and release of a loggerhead turtle

The Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), which was returned to the sea on June 30, was rescued by Cabildo de Tenerife staff, who found it floating, dehydrated and with algae on its shell less than a month ago in the south of the island.  It was taken directly to the CRFS in La Tahonilla, where it was diagnosed with respiratory problems and treated.  It was taken to the Loro Parque Aquarium to gather more strength in its last week before returning to the sea.

The situation of the Canary Islands, in the centre of Macaronesia, means that every year a large number of juvenile turtles pass through the north of the archipelago on their great migration across the North Atlantic Ocean.  And precisely, the subtropical rotation of the North Atlantic which circumscribes the migratory route of sea turtles, is one of the places where huge plastic islands accumulate, a material that affects marine animals enormously, either by their absorption of associated toxic substances or causing deadly intestinal blockages.  Unfortunately, however, marine organisms are also confronted with other highly harmful waste, such as abandoned nets, fishing lines and other fishing gear, which can cause accidental entanglement with very serious consequences.

That is why the Loro Parque Foundation, as part of its commitment to the protection and conservation of marine species, is carrying out the project `Well-being and conservation of the Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta)’, which seeks to increase the knowledge of the species and, thus, develop programmes to supplement the population and thus restore the historic range of distribution in the Northwest Atlantic.

Petitioners Free Morgan Foundation lost again, in European Parliament

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The oral reply of the European Commission to Free Morgan Foundation Petition 0853/2017 was clear. There is no need to change the regulations as requested by the petitioner. In a previous petition in 2012 the Commission already stated that in Morgan’s case all the European Regulations were followed strictly. In majority the MEP’s present were ready to close the petition and reject the FMF request, the 8th (legal) defeat for the activists in the last years. The thousands of cases in the last few years have not shown any issues with the implementation of the regulations or the template of the forms. The president of the commission resubmitted the petition to the coordinators of the political parties in for finalization in July.

Earlier, in May 2012, also regarding Council Regulation 338/96, the European Commission replied that the authorities of the EU Member States in question (Spain and The Netherlands) where well in charge of the correct implementation of EU rules.

“Council Regulation (EC) 339/97 and the corresponding implementing regulations is repeatedly interpreted wrongly by the Free Morgan Foundation (FMF) . The prohibitions of the regulation are very clear in article 8 (1) of the regulation and it is also clear in article 8 (3) that if any of the exceptional circumstances occur, the prohibitions do not apply” says Dr. Javier Almunia, Director of Loro Parque Fundación. A vision that is shared by a vast majority of CITES managing authorities and legal experts, as wells as MEP’s. Many now see the attempts of minority activities groups such as FMF as of waste of public and private funds.

Orca Morgan in Loro Parque

Loro Parque, the current custody holder of the orca Morgan, was present in Brussel to provide all relevant information to the Petitions Committee The orca Morgan has been in the custody of Loro Parque since 2011.  The decision to transfer her to the spacious and fully equipped facilities of OrcaOcean in Loro Parque was tried and tested in Courts in Spain and The Netherlands, resulting now 9 times in defeat for the FMF.

Loro Parque is supported by all relevant administrative bodies (CITES in The Netherlands and Spain, Zoo Inspections in Spain and the competent authorities on animal welfare which reject the claims and misinterpretations of the CITES permit by FMF now for the 9th time.

Orca Morgan’s Pregnancy

The orca Morgan is expected to give birth any time after the summer, according to estimates by Loro Parque’s veterinarians. She is now in the final stages of her pregnancy, which will culminate in the arrival of a single calf.

This gestation, as well as the birth and upbringing of the new animal, is a challenge for the experts at Loro Parque, confirmed Dr. Javier Almunia, Director of Loro Parque Fundación.  “All the experience there is, worldwide, on orca births is reduced to about 30 births, but never, in a single case, has it been with a deaf orca,” he says.  “For us, it’s a totally different situation.  We have had deliveries of other orcas, but in this case we have to be much more prepared for what may happen, because the information we have is minimal,” he added.

The care and standard medical training routines of Loro Parque’s orcas have been intensified with Morgan during the months of gestation, which has allowed for an exhaustive monitoring of the foetus and continuous observation of its evolution.  “We do ultrasounds almost twice a week with a high frequency system that has no effect on the foetus and causes no discomfort,” explained Dr. Almunia.

Loro Parque has everything ready to welcome Morgan’s calf and to face the different situations that could arise from its birth.

For more information regarding the Loro Parque’s preparations for the birth of the young calve: http://blog.loroparque.com/loro-parque-anticipates-that-the-orca-morgan-will-give-birth-by-the-end-of-summer/?lang=en

Accreditations

Loro Parque is an accredited zoological facility under the European Zoos Directive and follows strictly all the applicable laws and regulations in the zoo practice. Loro Parque is inspected yearly by the competent authorities. Moreover, Loro Parque applies the highest standards in killer whale management as accredited by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, or the European Association for Aquatic Mammals; and also by independent organizations like the American Humane, ABTA, Biosphere Parks, etc. In 2017, Loro Parque was recognized by the Trip Advisor’s Travel Choice Awards as the Best Zoo in the World.