Loro Parque contributes to research on the echolocation of orcas

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Loro Parque, in its continuous commitment to scientific research, has recently begun to collaborate in research on the echolocation of orcas, a key sense that favours their orientation and the location of prey for hunting.  There is not much information on whether it is a behaviour that cetaceans learn or if it is innate, nor is there data on the moment in which it appears in their development, so that the zoo, recognised as the best in the world, will contribute to providing information on a feature that is vital to their survival.

Loro Parque is working with the University of Southern Denmark in a study with Morgan’s calf in order to try and establish when echolocation begins in the young orcas.  The first experiments have already begun.

Development of echolocation

Echolocation is the location of an object through the reflection of sound waves, used by animal species such as bats and cetaceans and in sonar systems.

In both bats and dolphins, echolocation skills have been studied for decades, and although there is a deep understanding of their capabilities and use, it is not clear how it develops.  In the case of dolphins, recordings under animals in human care indicate that echolocation may develop after about three to four weeks, although other studies indicate that it may take much longer.

About young orcas, however, there is no information whatsoever, and some knowledge would help to better understand and protect these animals with more reliable risk-assessments on the impact of marine noise, its possible consequences, and even age estimates, based on sound recordings.  Thus, by recording the calf periodically, one can begin to understand the development of its echolocation capacity – when it begins and how this sense evolves until it matches that of an adult orca.

Commitment to scientific research on orcas

In addition, thanks to the opportunities offered to science by the possibility of having access to an orca calf in a controlled environment, Loro Parque is also collaborating with the University of Zurich in a study on learning more about orca communication – another rather unknown subject, wherein we will investigate how the calf adopts and uses the communication sounds of the group dialect.  Another Norwegian research group will study the existence of identification marks on orca calves, which will help to identify and track these animals more accurately in nature.

Loro Parque welcomes Christmas with the birth of 14 penguins

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Loro Parque welcomes Christmas with the birth of six Southern Rockhoppers and eight Long-Tailed Gentoo penguins.  The new members of the Planet Penguin family are being cared for by the best experts and will be on view from December 24, the first species in the Baby Penguin section and the second with the rest of the Antarctic penguin family.

The birth of the six Southern Rockhoppers represents a great challenge, because it’s a species that’s in a vulnerable state according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  This breed of penguins is very difficult to reproduce, so the experts of the Penguinarium devoted a great deal of time and effort, taking care of every detail during the incubation and growth of the offspring.  Likewise, the eight new members of the Long-Tailed Gentoo family find themselves with their parents sharing and living without difficulties alongside the rest of the Antarctic penguin family.

The arrival of new offspring is always an excellent indicator of animal welfare, because it ensures that the needs of the animals are being met and, as a result, they are able to reproduce without difficulty.  It’s the emblematic case of their famous and beloved female King Penguin Geisha, which was welcomed to the Park in August 2003, and which already has children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all perfectly integrated into the family of this charismatic Antarctic species in the Planet Penguin installations.

To take care of these seabirds, Loro Parque is attentive to every detail.  This is why, in addition to recreating the natural habitat of these species with the 12 tons of snow that fall in the enclosure daily, the normal light cycles of Antarctica are also respected, thus creating a unique space for the animals.

In addition, during the holiday season, visitors will be able to observe the large Nativity scene to be found in the Loro Parque Penguinarium, the only place in the Canary Islands where it snows all year round, thus offering a very special way of celebrating this Christmas season with the family.

Loro Parque celebrates its 46th anniversary and marks the end of a record year

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As we come closer to Christmas, Loro Parque has celebrated its 46th anniversary this Monday December 17, concluding a record year in which it has been crowned as the best zoo in the world – by winning the Travellers’ Choice award from TripAdvisor for the second consecutive year – and has celebrated not one, as is tradition, but two grand inaugurations.

Loro Parque started along its path in 1972 with only 25 people, 150 parrots and an area of 13,000 square metres. From that time to today, and after a trajectory containing many challenges, the Parque has become one of the most respected zoological institutions in the world, for its beauty, the excellence of its facilities and absolute respect for nature.

The best zoo in the world

After 46 years of intense work and continuous growth, Loro Parque has managed to win the Travellers’ Choice award for two consecutive years, 2017 and 2018, which ranks it as the best zoo in the world. Independent assessments by users of the TripAdvisor travel portal have resulted in an award that recognises the wide range of species exhibits, as well as their important work in awareness-raising, education and scientific research. Since its opening in 1972, almost 50 million visitors have visited its facilities and Loro Parque considers this award as recognition of its 46 years dedicated to the protection and conservation of nature.

2018’s great inaugurations

This year, Loro Parque has welcomed two new species, the Pygmy Hippos and the Ringed-Tail Lemurs, which are in danger of extinction and which act, in their installations, as representatives of their peers in nature. In addition, we have inaugurated the Zen Garden, a landscape aquarium unique in the world, whose main protagonist is the balance between flora and fauna that coexist in its interior, and evokes the beauty of the perfect balance inherent in the planet’s ecosystems, which unfortunately is being lost in the natural environment.

Commitment to the environment With the aim of actively contributing to the protection of the environment, this year Loro Parque has implemented a strategy of eliminating single-use plastic in all its facilities, managing to eliminate it almost entirely. In fact, among other measures, the Parque has replaced single-use plastic water bottles with biodegradable and compostable ones, making it one of the pioneering European zoos in taking a decision of this magnitude and ceasing to generate single-use plastic bottles as waste.

Loro Parque Baby Boom

This year, as usual, a baby boom has taken place in Loro Parque, showing ample proof of the welfare of all its animals. This authentic animal embassy welcomed with great joy the young of Penguins, Sea Lions, Black Swans, Scarlet Ibis, Rays, Zebra Sharks and Gray Sharks, Titis, Jellyfish … and, naturally, as the largest reserve of parrots in the world, numerous Parrots. Very special was the arrival to the family of Loro Parque of Garoé, a baby Chimpanzee, and, of course, Morgan’s baby, who is in excellent health in the facilities of Orca Ocean and is growing healthy and strong.

Successful record

Throughout its 46 years of history, the Loro Parque Company has achieved numerous recognitions, amongst which are the Plaque and Gold Medal for Tourist Merit awarded by the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Gold Medals from the Government of the Canary Islands, the city of Puerto de La Cruz and the Island Council of Tenerife, among other awards. Loro Parque is also the only company in the Canary Islands to have won the Prince Felipe Award for Business Excellence.

Loro Parque receives the Award for Business Excellence from the Canary Islands Government

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Loro Parque has received this morning, Wednesday December 12, the Canarian Award for Business Excellence, given by the Regional Government in recognition of the company’s commitment to encourage and promote the principles of quality, innovation and excellence in all its undertakings.  The award was presented to Wolfgang Kiessling, president of the Company, at a ceremony held at the headquarters of the Instituto Tecnológico de Canarias (ITC) in Tenerife.

The 9th edition of these prestigious awards was attended by Pedro Ortega the Canarian Minister of Economy, Industry, Trade and Knowledge and further representatives of the Canary Islands Government: Justo Artiles Director General of Industry and Energy and Cristina Hernández Director General of Economic Promotion.

Loro Parque, also recognised in 2018 as the best zoo in the world for the second consecutive year, has received this award in the category Medium to Large Companies. This marks the recognition of the company’s trajectory that has turned it into one of the most respected and well-known zoological institutions in the world, as much for its exceptional beauty, as for the excellence of its facilities and its respect for nature.

Canarian Awards for Business Excellence

The Department of Economy, Industry, Commerce and Knowledge of the Canary Islands Government celebrates this year the ninth edition of the Canary Islands Business Excellence Awards, a prestigious recognition of the excellence of companies on the islands. With this award, they seek to recognise the daily work carried out by companies in the archipelago to encourage and promote the principles of quality, innovation and excellence in their management, with the aim of improving their competitiveness.  In this way, the awarded companies become a business reference for the whole of Canarian society.

Loro Parque Foundation renews its commitment to nature by allocating one million dollars to conservation projects

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The Loro Parque Foundation recently held the annual meeting of its Advisory Committee, which has decided how to distribute the $1,000,000 that the Foundation dedicates each year to nature conservation projects carried out in the five continents. The meeting took place in Puerto de La Cruz, the city where both the non-profit organisation and its main sponsor, Loro Parque, are based.

Threatened species and ecosystems on the American continent will receive almost 60 per cent of the funds ($577,000), followed by projects focusing on European nature, which will receive just over $203,000, and African projects, which total $126,000. Asia, with $73,000, and Australia-Oceania, with $21,000, close the funding, which reaches the five continents and will be distributed among 40 conservation and research projects to be implemented by 34 NGOs and universities around the world.

By country, Colombia stands out, as it will receive almost $145,000, followed by the Philippines, Brazil and Bolivia, which will receive approximately $60,000 each. However, the list of states is much longer, and this year the Foundation will also carry out projects in Mexico, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Belize, Costa Rica, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Cape Verde, Madeira, New Zealand and Polynesia. In addition, some of these projects are trans-national, so their benefits will reach the ecosystems and endangered species of many other bordering countries.

From an ecological point of view, terrestrial species and ecosystems are the ones that will receive the most help from the Loro Parque Foundation ($800,000). Among them is the Philippine cockatoo – on the red list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered – whose project will receive $68,000 to continue securing the populations on the island of Rasa and try to extend the reproductive success achieved in that area to other places in the region.

Other major projects on terrestrial species and ecosystems are aimed at protecting lions in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, the Great Green Macaw and the Lilacine Amazon in Ecuador, or the Blue-throated Macaw in Bolivia – all of which will receive funding of around $60,000 in 2019.

Also of great importance is the effort in the conservation of marine species and ecosystems, to which the Loro Parque Foundation will dedicate $200,000 next year. Of these, almost three quarters will be allocated to cetaceans (orcas, dolphins, humpback whales and pilot whales), through different research projects for their welfare, the monitoring and conservation of the orca population of the Straits of Gibraltar, or the development of systems to prevent the accidental stranding of pilot whales.

It’s also important to note the participation in a project on the island of Madeira for the conservation of the Mediterranean Monk Seal, a species listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List – making it Europe’s most endangered marine mammal. In addition to the marine mammal projects, the Foundation will also continue conservation work on other species, such as sea turtles and sharks, during 2019.

Loro Parque, recognised as the #1 Zoo in the World for the second consecutive year

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Loro Parque has once again been recognised as the BEST ZOO IN THE WORLD. This accomplishment has come for the second consecutive year, according to the highly reputable travel website TripAdvisor, as it was revealed in their annual Travellers’ Choice 2018 awards.  Once again, the independent evaluations of the major web platform’s users who have visited the facilities have confirmed that there is no better park than this one on the planet.

This recognition reinforces Loro Parque’s role as an authentic wildlife conservation centre, whose pillars are education, conservation and raising awareness among its visitors about the importance of protecting the animal world and its ecosystems.  Almost 50 million people have visited its facilities throughout its more than 45-year history, and all of them have recognised the top welfare of all the animals in the Parque.

Loro Parque picturesquely located on Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, has an elaborate science, education and conservation programme implemented since 1994 through the Loro Parque Foundation. In this period of time and thanks to the principal sponsorship from Loro Parque, the Foundation was able to allocate more than 19 million dollars directly to the development of ‘in situ’ and ‘ex situ’ conservation programmes.  This recognition coincides, precisely, with the transfer of six specimens of Lear’s Macaws (one of the nine parrot species that the Foundation has managed to save from imminent extinction) to Brazil for their reinsertion into the wild, an event that is considered a conservation success.

With this and many other achievements in the protection of wildlife – many of which are marine species – Loro Parque is reaping the rewards of applying a corporate policy of reinvesting all its profits in the continuous development of the company and the constant improvement of animal welfare.  At present, the company reinforces its firm commitment to the expansion of our facilities and infrastructure, which in turn contributes to the constant generation of employment in the Canary Islands.

Loro Parque is celebrating without a doubt, and would like to take this opportunity to thank its customers who visit daily from many different parts of the world; the tour operators, for their important commitment to a wildlife conservation centre whose priority is animal welfare; and all the collaborators in the scientific field, for sharing with the Loro Parque team their mission: to protect and conserve animals and their natural habitats for future generations.

More about Travellers’ Choice 2018: https://www.tripadvisor.es/TravelersChoice-Attractions-cZoos

More information on Loro Parque: http://www.loroparque.com/

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.

Loro Parque welcomes the delegation from Cuxhaven Penguin Museum

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Loro Parque welcomed this Tuesday, November 20, the delegation from the Cuxhaven Penguin Museum, which holds the Guinness Record for the largest collection of penguin objects. During the visit, representatives of the German Penguinarium Stefan Kirchhoff and Birgit Berend, admired the large Planet Penguin installation and the important conservation work being carried out in Loro Parque, the best zoo in the world according to users of TripAdvisor.

The delegates, who have been touring penguin installations around the world and observing these animals in nature, underlined that they had visited the Park 12 years ago and had plans to return ever since. On this occasion they have come to make a report on the penguins that inhabit the Parque and see first hand the excellent conditions of the best penguinarium on the planet, Planet Penguin.

The representatives of the Cuxhaven Penguin Museum were welcomed by the Scientific Director of The Loro Parque Foundation Rafael Zamora, who explained the great variety of species in the installation, as well as answering their questions about the different conservation tasks that are carried out for the welfare of the animals.

This visit of the representatives of the German Penguin Museum to Loro Parque, voted the best zoo on the planet for the second consecutive year, represents the importance and value that these institutions have for the care and welfare of animals. In addition, it symbolises the role of wildlife conservation centres such as Loro Parque to make the dangerous situations denounced by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) visible and to make visitors aware of the importance of protecting animals to prevent their disappearance.

Leading UK publication The Sun recommends visiting Loro Parque and Siam Park during the Christmas holidays

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The Sun, the most widely read English-language newspaper in the world, with a circulation of around 3,200,000 and some 8,500,000 readers, recommended, in a recent publication, visiting Loro Parque and Siam Park during the Christmas holidays.  The newspaper has identified Tenerife as the number one destination in a list of 10 places it considers ideal to visit at Christmas, such as New York or Paris, amongst other locations.

The Canary Islands is one of the favourite destinations for British tourists, and “the whole family will love Loro Parque”, says The Sun.  “Voted the world’s best zoo by TripAdvisor users, it’s praised for its conservation work, which has saved nine species from extinction,” it continues.  It also alludes to Siam Park: “It’s another winning park, with exciting attractions and pools where you can relax”.

This mention acknowledges Loro Parque’s commitment to innovation and excellence, thanks to the company’s continuous commitment to offer its visitors innovative facilities of the highest quality.  This is why Loro Parque and Siam Park apply the latest technological developments to every detail, in matters ranging from innovation in the creation of new attractions to sustainability and respect for the environment.

Nearly 50 million visitors have visited Loro Parque since it opened its doors almost 46 years ago.  Considering that more than 700 million people visit zoos every year, both this mention and the different recognitions it has received throughout its history demonstrate that the Parque offers an unforgettable experience to its visitors, who come from all over the world.

It’s the same with Siam Park, which has been recognised as the world’s best water park for five consecutive years, being the only park to achieve this distinction so many times in a row, and also the only one to receive this award from TripAdvisor since they inaugurated their ‘water parks’ category five years ago.

For the first time in history, a study financed by the Loro Parque Foundation has analysed the personality of orcas

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A recent study, funded by the Loro Parque Foundation and initiated with the orcas of Loro Parque, has made it possible to determine the personality structure of cetaceans.  Recently published in the Journal of Comparative Psychology, it’s a pioneering project, as it’s the first time in history that the personality of these animals has been studied.

Dr. Javier Almunia, Director of the Loro Parque Foundation, explained that “personality studies in animals help us to better understand their behaviour and, in the short term, can be related to measures to improve their welfare”.  In addition, he pointed out that “a detailed knowledge of an animal’s personality allows us to individualise, for example, an environmental enrichment or its social relations, so that they adapt much better to its needs and preferences”.

In order to obtain greater statistical validity of the results, the project analysed a total of 24 orcas (housed not only in Loro Parque, but also in SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Diego).  In order to determine their personalities, a questionnaire was applied consisting of 38 adjectives, based on another used in humans: the ‘Five Factor Model’.  An average of 20 evaluators per centre, mainly trainers with an median of eight years experience with the animals, evaluated all the adjectives for the study sample.

“The most relevant part of the research is that it’s the first time that the personality structure of a cetacean has been obtained.  In recent years, a large number of personality studies have been carried out on a wide range of animals – including invertebrates, insects and fish – but curiously in cetaceans, personality studies had only been carried out on bottlenose dolphins, focused on the search for correlations and not on obtaining the personality structure of the species”, said Yulán Úbeda, author of the study and a researcher at the University of Girona.

Unable to compare the results obtained for orcas with the personality structure of other cetaceans, Úbeda and his team compared the results with those of humans and chimpanzees, finding a high similarity in the personality structure between these species.  According to the study, the orca personality is composed of four factors: Extraversion, a combined factor of Responsibility and Kindness, Dominance and Prudence.  The first three coincide with those found in chimpanzees, published in a previous study by the author in Evolutionary Psychology, whilst similarity with humans is also reflected in the scores obtained for the adjectives.

The similarity of results found between these species could suggest an evolutionary convergence.  Thus, the scientist has concluded that “despite the high evolutionary distance between cetaceans and primates, the adaptation to very different environments and a very disparate neuroanatomical organisation, some primates and cetaceans show convergence in complex cognitive abilities – such as cooperation, cultural transmission or the presence of complex social structures, among others – and even very similar encephalization quotients, so that this type of personality structure found in cetaceans and complex primates could be associated with the cognitive and social complexity presented by these species”.