Loro Parque will exhibit an incredible coral farm

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From tomorrow, the Loro Parque aquarium will exhibit a farm of asexually reproduced corals.  These animals, which form what are known as the ‘marine jungles’, photosynthesise and possess an immense biodiversity that is home to 25 per cent of the marine population.

Through this new exhibition, visitors will be able to closely observe the work that the Parque does with these organisms that occupy an absolutely essential place in nature for the oceans and the production of oxygen.

Unfortunately, as early as 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned that one-third of reef-forming corals face extinction due to over-exploitation of resources, development of coastal constructions, global warming and intrusive tourism, among other causes.  As a consequence, corals lose their colouration, their capacities are affected and the habitat of the thousands of species that coexist with them deteriorates.

As an endangered species according to IUCN, the role of wildlife conservation centres such as Loro Parque is paramount to make their situation visible and to make visitors aware of the importance of protecting them to avoid their disappearance.

Thus, in what is recognised as the world’s best zoo, these corals will act as ambassadors of their fellow creatures in nature, which face serious threats and, in turn, as an example of the action that can be taken in more places in the world to create coral farms and new reefs to preserve the future of these animals and the many others that live within their orbit.

How zoos and aquariums can help save 1 million species from extinction

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Published by: Usa Today/ Robin Ganzert   https://eu.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/05/11/zoos-aquariums-can-help-save-one-million-species-extinction-column/1152477001/

Roughly 1 million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction, according to a recent United Nations assessment. As animals find it increasingly difficult to live in the wild, it’s important to leverage the power of zoos and aquariums to protect animals and restore endangered species, even as some activists seek to dismantle these arks of hope.

The U.N. report paints a bleak picture — earth is becoming increasingly inhospitable thanks to irresponsible land and water use, climate change, pollution and other man-made causes.

Right now, zoos and aquariums should be rallying points for conservationists. Unfortunately, between 2007 and 2017, nearly a quarter of Americans became more opposed to zoos and aquariums, according to a YouGov poll.

And an activist group called Empty The Tanks is hosting a global series of aquarium protests Saturday demanding that all aquatic mammals be released into the sea. These so-called activists apparently aren’t concerned with saving animal lives. The U.N. report revealed that more than a third of marine mammals are at risk of extinction.

Bobby the lion in Tirana (Albania) Zoo on May 7, 2019.
Gent Shkullaku/AFP/Getty Images
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Zoos and aquariums are tools by which we can preserve animal life while habitats are threatened. A child born today who reaches 80 years of age will live to see half of the world’s current species become extinct, according to Elizabeth Kolbert, author of “The Six Extinction: An Unnatural History.”

Countless species are threatened by human activities such as pollution, overhunting, overfishing and habitat destruction.

Managing the threat of extinction

This female Masai giraffe was born on March 22 at the Phoenix Zoo and is currently in the giraffe barn bonding with her mom until she is big enough to be introduced to the Savanna habitat.
Phoenix Zoo

Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would consider classifying the giraffe as an endangered species. That’s after wild giraffe populations fell by up to 40% over three decades. Giraffes may join the nearly 1,500 species of animals that are already considered endangered or threatened by the USFWS.

Fortunately, zoos are stepping up as sanctuaries for these iconic and beautiful animals. Giraffes living at Tanganyika Wildlife Park, located in Goddard, Kansas, have given birth to over 50 calves. That’s important to keeping the species alive.

Last month, we also learned that Halley Bay, home to the world’s second-largest colony of emperor penguins, just finished its third year of almost total breeding failure, according to a study in Antarctic Science, a publication of the Cambridge University Press.
Being a baby is exhausting, as shown here by the penguin chick at the Georgia Aquarium.
Georgia Aquarium

But not all activists see it that way. SeaWorld Orlando is one of the locations where Empty The Tanks is organizing a protest this week.

Zoos, aquariums are arks of hope

In light of the U.N. report, it’s time for activists, ordinary folks, politicians and every one in between to rally behind zoos and aquariums that act as modern arks of hope for many species, like penguins and giraffes.

Obviously, whenever animals live in human care, there can be bad actors. That’s why we at American Humane launched the first-ever, independent, science-based, genuinely third-party humane certification program focused on animals in zoos and aquariums. We wanted families to know that the zoos and aquariums they visit are doing right by the animals in their care.

In fact, both Seaworld and Taganyika Wildlife Park have received certification from American Humane. Through a vigorous evaluation process, they are recognized by our organization as facilities with exceptional standards for the humane treatment of the animals in their care.

The sixth mass extinction of animal and plant life on earth is accelerating, making it necessary to involve people in the conservation of earth’s animals. Animals like penguins and giraffes are counting on us. For their sake, we need to support facilities that protect animal life against harsh environments.

Robin Ganzert is the president and CEO of American Humane. You can follow her on Twitter: @RobinGanzert.  

The Mediterranean Monk Seal reduces its risk of extinction and there are glimmers of hope thanks to international cooperation

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Mediterranean monk seal in Madeira. Source: Nuno Sá.

The Mediterranean Monk Seal, the most endangered marine mammal in Europe and once a frequent sight in all Mediterranean countries and along the African coast and Macaronesia, disappeared almost completely from the face of the Earth.  However, thanks to various international organisations and important awareness-raising work, it’s now improving its chances of survival.  Thus, from this year, The Loro Parque Foundation has collaborated by co-financing the Mediterranean Monk Seal conservation programme in Madeira through the development of a monitoring system of its conservation status (LIFE13 NAT/ES/00974 ), via the CBD Hábitat Foundation and the Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza de Madeira.

Mothers and offspring Mediterranean monk seal, at the entrance of a cave, in Desertas Islands. Source: Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza da Madeira.

It has now almost completely disappeared from all its original locations and its population has been reduced to less than 700 individuals fragmented into three or four sub-populations, making it one of the most endangered seals on the planet.  Accidental death due to fishing gear remains the greatest threat to the survival of this species, which also suffered a severe blow in 1997 when 200 individuals died in the Cabo Blanco colony (Western Sahara) from a red tide.

Mediterranean monk seals in Madaira.  Source: Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza da Madeira.

The project that The Loro Parque Foundation promotes focuses on a small population (estimated at about 25 specimens) and is located on the Islas Desertas, although it has been proven that from there they move around the whole island of Madeira.  The director of the Monk Seal Conservation Programme of the CBD Habitat Foundation Pablo Fernández de Larrinoa considers that “public-private cooperation in the conservation of this species is what will save it from extinction, both at the level of funding for community institutions and the countries involved, as well as private companies with sensitivity to the loss of global biodiversity on the planet”.  It also applies “at the level of the actual execution of conservation work, where citizen participation in a coordinated and targeted manner is increasingly important to complement and help professionals,” he said.

Mothers and offspring Mediterranean monk seal,  with a few days old, inside a cave, observed through a surveillance camera. Source: Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza da Madeira.

The Loro Parque Foundation’s contribution is to collaborate in a project to tag seals with bracelets equipped with GPS receivers, which make it possible to track the specimens and determine their areas of critical habitat, and which will allow the Madeira authorities to establish more effective protection measures.  This monitoring system will also be useful to determine the feeding depths and regular habitat areas of the specimens and determine their degree of overlap with fishing activities.

The experts also point out that it must be borne in mind that the seal population of Madeira is absolutely isolated in the archipelago and there is no current possibility of intermingling.  Furthermore, due to human pressure on their optimal habitat, the Mediterranean Monk Seal lives in caves with rocky beaches and steep coastlines which are difficult to access.  This type of habitat creates serious problems for the conservation and maintenance of the GPS bracelets, that poses continuing challenges for the field team.

Mother and offspring Monachus monachus , with few days old, inside a cave, observed through a surveillance camera. Source: Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza da Madeira.

Another aspect of the project is the monitoring of caves by photo-trapping, to establish which ones are used by the seals to breed, and thus establish protection measures.  These caves are also subjected to extreme conditions of pressure due to the strength of the waves, which together with the splashes of seawater also create new challenges for photo-trapping technology.

Although all the efforts so far are bearing fruit, in the coming years we will have to maintain our commitment and verify that the trend of population increase continues in order to be optimistic about the recovery of the species.  Therefore, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) plans to carry out a re-evaluation of the degree of threat to the species in 2020.  These assessments are particularly important in the context of global climate change, the effects of which could seriously affect threatened species with small and fragmented populations.

Baltimore Aquarium: Defamation of a Sanctuary

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Source: http://zoos.media/medien-echo/baltimore-aquarium-schmierentheater-sanctuary/

Author: Philipp J. Kroiß

Those responsible for the Baltimore Aquarium were rightly criticised within the industry for talking about creating a sanctuary for their bottlenose dolphins.  The plan was not suitable for the animals because it included a breeding ban in the facility that would have made it impossible for them to build natural social structures in the long term, and for them this would have been torture.

Apparently, climate change is to blame!

Since this plan was made public, criticised of course in the professional world, but with the corresponding recognition of radical opponents to zoos, they have been looking for a suitable place for the construction of the cage of nets that had been planned.  They wanted it to be ready by 2020.  However, according to CEO John Racanelli, whose proximity to the animal rights industry has been noted several times, this is no longer possible and is due to climate change.

Climate change can certainly be pointed to as the cause of many events, but there is nothing that has changed significantly in recent years that could not have been foreseen at the time this plan was announced, a plan entirely beyond what is realistic.  Just a few years ago, there was a problem with hurricanes in the chosen region, but now those responsible for the Baltimore aquarium, led by Racanelli, are acting as if this problem had just begun. < https://www.npr.org/ 2019/05/05/720041305 / at-the-baltimore-aquarium-change-change-present-challenge-both-inside-y-out >.

This type of drama is not worthy of a modern zoo or aquarium.  People make mistakes or sometimes make wrong decisions, but then they must be consistent and confront them.  Yes, the populist plan of the sanctuary for animal welfare was, from the beginning, a faulty and wrong idea, so you can admit that and there is nothing wrong or reprehensible about that.  This defamatory comedy with climate change as an alibi is not proper to people who really claim to be experts.

Does the concept of a sanctuary have a future?

This type of sanctuary is a project that must function for decades and it is clear that climate change, pollution and other damaging factors will make such projects with net cages impossible.  It will also be necessary to observe how the institutions that hold dolphins and that currently work with the so-called Sea Pens or Bay Pens at sea will continue.  Here one has to act very deliberately and study each case individually.

But all this has been known for years.  It’s not something recent, but it became even more relevant when the mistaken idea of the Baltimore Aquarium was born.  They cannot now suddenly pretend to be surprised by the problems of climate change and pollution, or by the health risks posed by the growing anthropogenic pollution of seawater.

The concept of cage nets was already an obsolete model before it had even actually been developed.  There are simply not enough suitable bays that offer sufficiently optimum conditions and that are not already used for other purposes, or that are too valuable from the point of view of nature conservation, and that are also protected from the negative environmental influences mentioned above.  Institutions with good water quality are needed, but it is well known that this is currently only achieved by filtering, something that is not possible in open net cage constructions such as this one.  For example, Loro Parque, on the Canary Island of Tenerife, in the Atlantic Ocean far from the mainland, draws its water from seawater basins directly from the Atlantic for ecological and economic reasons.  However, this must still be filtered several times before it meets the high requirements for optimum maintenance for the animals.

In nature, there are populations of dolphins whose habitat has a water quality so poor that the animals have a very limited life expectancy, so they should not be kept under human care in equally poor conditions.  This is something that everyone knows doesn’t make sense.  It’s also one of the main reasons why renowned zoological facilities fight pollution, overfishing and many other harmful anthropogenic environmental factors.  Last but not least, bottlenose dolphins are considered charismatic ambassadors to draw attention to precisely these ecological problems.

The concept of sanctuaries is based on the massive error and ideology of the animal rights industry that animal husbandry is bad per se.  In this context, these final animal ‘deposits’ some of which are already in existence, such as so-called elephant sanctuaries, which tend to be of remarkably poor quality, are marketed as a release from supposedly undesirable conditions that, in reality, are not a way out at all.  In most cases, the animal rights industry only tries to ‘hijack’ the animals in order to misuse their image so that they can raise funds, but it does not really care about their welfare, let alone the protection of their natural habitats.

Dolphins are fine in modern dolphinariums

In contrast, modern dolphinariums have been shown to be places of animal welfare.  In well-managed and certified institutions, bottlenose dolphins live longer (Jaakkola and Willis, 2019), are healthier (Fair et al., 2017) and less stressed (Monreal-Pawlowsky et al., 2017) than their wild counterparts.  In addition, they enjoy training and have been shown to release happy hormones (Clegg et al., 2018, Ridgway et al., 2014).  Over 80 of the world’s most renowned scientists in this field support the lifestyle of marine mammals in modern zoos and aquariums, underscoring the enormous importance of these populations under human care for important conservation projects and for scientific research, whose findings also benefit populations at risk in nature.

From these facts, we see that the sanctuaries projects have no meaning or justification and, really, there is no need for them.  All that needs to be done is to work to ensure that the good standards that have already been implemented and are already being carried out by modern dolphinariums are put into practice throughout the country.  Unfortunately, there are also black sheep among the the institutions that hold dolphins, but those which are modern and certified and managed responsibly already do a good job and fight for the welfare of both the animals under their care and those in nature.

Loro Parque hosts the start of TUI’s summer season

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Loro Parque has hosted this Wednesday, May 8, the start of the summer season of the German tourism company TUI.  The zoo, recognised as the best in the world according to TripAdvisor users, was the ideal place to receive the 250 managers, agents and staff of TUI.

During the visit, all the TUI staff enjoyed a complete tour of the Park and learned about the work of the Loro Parque Foundation.  In addition, this great team took part in conferences on various topics that were held in the Natura Vision room.

The event, which forms part of Loro Parque’s and TUI’s long commitment to tourism, culminated with a big cocktail party in the Patio del Loro, to boost the successful start of this new season.

The Loro Parque Foundation helps 20 Red-Masked Parakeets fly back in their natural environment in Ecuador

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A score of parrots, which were captured illegally in Ecuador, have been returned to the wild, through the careful and comprehensive work of a programme of reintroduction into nature thanks to the Loro Parque Foundation.

Captures of this type of parrot are more frequent than you might imagine.  On this occasion, the local authorities were able to prevent the parrots from perishing due to the poor maintenance-conditions and stress to which these animals are usually subjected.  The birds were confiscated through a police intervention and taken care of by a local zoo as part of a wild release project.

This reintroduction project was carried out in a non-gradual release aviary in the Buenaventura Reserve, where the Loro Parque Foundation also collaborates in the conservation programme of El Oro Parakeet along with the Jocotoco Foundation, the leading organisation in this particular reinsertion of the captured Red-Masked Parakeets.

There, the 20 specimens became adapted once more to the environment from which they were taken, after exhaustive veterinary studies that guaranteed the absence of any type of disease.  They were also identified with rings and microchips that will allow them to be monitored and thus prevent them from being recaptured and falling again into the hands of those who work in the illegal market of wild species.

In addition, through the release of these birds, biometric data collection, medical analyses and behavioural observations were achieved, which are part of an important acquisition of knowledge about wild animals.  Thanks to zoos, this data is an essential part of short- and long-term species protection.

This project is added to the many achievements of the Loro Parque Foundation for the conservation of future generations of animals.  Hence, after more than US$19.6 million invested in more than 160 projects over five continents and nine species of parrots directly saved from imminent extinction, the Foundation reaffirms that ‘100 per cent for nature’ is not just a slogan, it’s a reality.

Loro Parque welcomes a new Jaguar

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A new female Jaguar, called Naya, has arrived in Loro Parque to stay. This specimen of Panthera onca has now passed the period of adaptation to her new home and to her new companion Gulliver, and for several weeks the couple has been observed together in their outdoor facilities in the Parque.

Naya belongs to a breeding programme within the European Endangered Species Programme (EPP), to which zoos linked to the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) are associated. She has thus come to Loro Parque from Martinique in the Caribbean with the aim of being able to reproduce.

The Jaguar is the largest feline in South America and the third largest in the world, after Tigers and Lions. Within its range, it’s the animal at the top of the food chain, and can live in habitats as different as the Amazon rainforest or the dry steppes of southern South America.

In nature, it feeds on a variety of live prey, from fish to large mammals and even small Caymans. In addition, it’s known to have the strongest jaws within the feline group. In general, with the exception of breeding and reproduction periods, it’s a solitary animal.

Panthera onca is a species categorised as Near Threatened on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and one of the greatest dangers it faces is the high rates of deforestation in Latin America. The fragmentation of their habitats isolates them and makes them more vulnerable to human persecution.

The commercial hunting of Jaguars for their skins has decreased drastically since the mid-1970s thanks to anti-fur campaigns and the progressive control and closure of international markets. However, there is still a demand for their feet, teeth and other products.

Loro Parque, as a wildlife conservation centre, thus consolidates its commitment to the protection of nature and different species, which makes it an authentic embassy for wild animals.

The Loro Parque’s World Population Clock breaks the 7,700 million barrier

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Loro Parque’s World Population Clock, based on estimates by the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs, has this week reached the historic figure of 7,700 million people. According to this population growth trend, by 2023 there will be more than 8,000 million people and 10,000 million by 2056. Meaning that there are more and more inhabitants, but also more endangered species.

The Loro Parque Foundation warns that the enormous pressure of the growing population is driving animals out of their habitats. For example, it’s estimated that in Africa, before the Europeans arrived, there could have been over 29 million elephants. However, as early as 1935, the population had dropped to 10 million and now stands at less than 440,000, according to a 2012 study conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

This same scenario happened with the blue whales, whose population in Antarctica passed, in less than a century, from 340,000 to just over 1,000 specimens. Fortunately, thanks to international protection, the population of this species is slowly recovering. However, some cetaceans such as the Mexican Vaquita or Gulf porpoise have not been able to improve their numbers and are on the verge of extinction with less than 50 specimens registered.

At this point in time, United Nations estimates show that 57 per cent of the world’s population already lives in cities, far from contact with nature and animals. In addition, it’s estimated that by 2050 that percentage will have exceeded 80 per cent, making contact with nature even scarcer, with many people never having the opportunity to bond with wild animals.

Asia is the most populous continent on the planet, with 4,478 million people and a density of 144 people per square kilometre, followed by Africa with 1,246 million and Europe with 739 million. Population densities in Europe and the Americas do not exceed 30 people per square kilometre, yet the enormous amount of infrastructure and agricultural use have fragmented and reduced natural habitats.

This problem of overpopulation affects all individuals, as resource depletion, deforestation and pollution are just a sample of the consequences that affect everyone.

For this reason, the role of wildlife conservation centres such as Loro Parque is more important than ever – necessary to maintain living contact between animals and the public. Therefore, the mission of modern zoos is to fight to preserve endangered species, work to increase scientific knowledge about animal species to protect them, and seek to inspire love and protection of the animals in all their visitors. Thus, in an increasingly populated and urban world, zoos are the embassy of animals and nature.

Loro Parque is honoured for over 15 years of collaboration with the Haemophilia Association

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Loro Parque was honoured, this Wednesday April 24, by the Association of Hemophilia (Ahete), in the XIII Canary Islands Hemophilia ‘Marcos Gutierrez’ Awards ceremony.

The Company was unanimously chosen to receive the award in the business category for its over 15 years of collaboration with the various activities carried out by this non-profit association specialising in the large haemophilia family. Over the years, the Parque has helped Ahete through its mission of social integration and improving the quality of life of those affected by haemophilia or other congenital, carrier and family coagulopathies in the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

The event held in commemoration of World Haemophilia Day on April 17 was attended by the president of Loro Parque Wolfgang Kiessling who received this distinction at a ceremony held in the Salon Noble of the Tenerife Cabildo building.

Through these collaborations with non-profit associations, Loro Parque, recognised as the best zoo in the world, strengthens its commitment to Canarian society.  In this case, the company has supported the development and improvement of the quality of life of many people via different sponsorships and initiatives for over 15 years.

Business excellence

The trajectory of Loro Parque has been recognised on many occasions.  It is one of the most respected zoological institutions in the world for its exceptional beauty, the excellence of its facilities and its respect for nature.  The Parque has been distinguished for two consecutive years as the best on the planet, according to TripAdvisor users.  This is because with almost 50 million visitors who have visited its facilities since its opening in 1972, the Parque continues in its firm commitment to the protection of different species, through a wide variety of projects in which The Loro Parque Foundation also participates.

The Loro Parque Foundation teaches students the importance of the Canaries as a marine biodiversity hotspot

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The Loro Parque Foundation, through its Department of Education, organised a boat excursion for students of IES Tomás de Iriarte to show them how the Canary Islands is a hot spot of marine biodiversity, with special attention to cetaceans.

An initial session was held at the Educational Centre in which the geographical and oceanographic characteristics of the archipelago that make it a privileged place for marine life were detailed.  Through various activities and games, the students were shown some of the most characteristic species of the Canary Islands.  We also talked about the species of cetaceans that frequent our coasts and we worked with dichotomous keys to learn how to identify them according to their physical characteristics.  The importance of studying their sounds as a tool for scientific research was also discussed.

Once this session was over, the second part of the activity was carried out – a boat trip from the south of Tenerife to put into practice what had been learnt in the Centre.  In the boat, the students were able to identify the species they encountered during the tour and analysed different human activities that can harm marine life, such as waste, noise pollution, irresponsible sighting activities or maritime traffic, among others.

This activity, which arose from collaboration between the educational centre and the company Freebird, aims to help students discover the biodiversity of the coasts and the importance of taking care of it.  In addition, it has allowed schoolchildren to observe first hand the real application of scientific research for conservation, with the hope of promoting their interest in science and the study of nature.

With actions like these, which are carried out continuously, The Loro Parque Foundation reinforces its commitment to education and highlights its essential role as a conservation tool.

Cetacean biodiversity and their study

This trip was also attended by the Bioacoustics research group of the University of La Laguna, who tested a new technology that can be used in autonomous marine vehicles and buoys for acoustic monitoring of cetaceans in the Canary Islands.

Using this technology it’s hoped that it will be possible to determine the areas frequented by these animals and the activities they carry out there and in the future, it’s hoped that this technology can also be applied in the rest of Macaronesia.

These technological advances are based on more than 10 years of work with Loro Parque’s Ocean Orca system and will be applied to the ‘CanBio’ project which is co-financed by the Foundation and the Canary Islands Government to the tune of two million dollars over four years, and which studies the effects of climate change on the sea and on the marine biodiversity of the Canary Islands and the rest of Macaronesia.