Where Rights May Be Wrong

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Original article: Island Connections – Loro Parque vs PETA

After several months of wrangling, a legal dispute between the animal rights organisation PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and Loro Parque has now come to an end. Here’s a look behind the scenes of this animal rights activist group. The sequence of events is as follows. In 2016 Loro Parque sued PETA over accusations made to the Guardia Civil SEPRONA division (Spanish nature protection service) over supposed maltreatment of its orcas. PETA not only reported Loro Parque to SEPRONA but also started an international press campaign against the park, even though the previous investigations by SEPRONA had confirmed that there were absolutely no indications of maltreatment and that the orcas were in the finest conditions. The sentence published on November 7 by the Puerto de La Cruz court confirms and accredits that, “The orca installations at Loro Parque fulfil the regulations in force and the general condition of the orcas is the correct one”. It also states that, “The activity developed at Loro Parque complies strictly with the applicable legal requirements and has the obligatory authorisations and licences” and confirms that it has been verified that, “The zoological park has qualified personnel to take care of and medically treat the orcas that live in its installations”. At no time does the judicial resolution question the wellbeing of the orcas at Loro Parque, on the contrary, it makes it very clear that the orcas are in good condition, and attended to by qualified professionals and experts. This implies clearly that the accusations of maltreatment or even torture were not true. However, the sentence balances between the right to honour and the freedom of speech. The court understands that these affirmations, although demonstrated as false, are protected by the right to freedom of speech.

There is no doubt that in a democratic society this right has to be protected but it is also necessary to protect the legal and legitimate economic activities which are the motor of our society. Therefore, Loro Parque will appeal against this sentence to the High Court in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in order to address the fact that the legitimate use of freedom of speech cannot be an excuse for organising defamation campaigns against organisations like Loro Parque, which has been fighting for and funding the conservation of nature and the wellbeing of animals for 45 years. The zoological director of Loro Parque,  Wolfgang Rades, commenting on PETA’s activities, said, “We are regularly audited and awarded by independent organisations. We work constantly with scientists from all over the world to confirm that our animals are doing well. In some of the radical protest organisations, people from completely different professions call themselves specialists who allegedly know better than qualified scientists.”

But who and what is PETA and what does the organisation that so vehemently attacks Loro Parque stand for? PETA is the abbreviation for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, founded in Norfolk (USA) in 1980 by the former activist and today’s PETA boss Ingrid Newkirk. The organisation now has more than two million members around the world and earns about $30 million a year. This money is exempted from taxes due to the non-profit status of the association. But how non-

profit is PETA really? This is a question that the organisation, which repeatedly draws attention to itself through media effective campaigns, has to put up with. First of all, it does not, as is so often mistakenly understood, stand for animal welfare, but for animal rights, and the organisation obviously interprets this concern very creatively. In general, the PETA representatives are against the exploitation of all animals. This also includes a ban on meat and dairy products, the wearing of leather, wool and fur as well as the rejection of leisure activities such as horse riding, hunting, fishing or beekeeping, and of course, the zoos and circuses are at the top of the list of the most criticised. In macabre flyers, the so-called responsible persons compare hen batteries with a concentration camp. Children are unsettled by sentences such as, “Your father kills animals”. In fact, a flyer addressed to children says, “Your daddy teaches you the wrong things when he tells you what is right and wrong – so you should explain to him that he kills fish while fishing and that it’s wrong to kill someone. Until your dad learns that killing others is no fun, keep cats and dogs away from him. He enjoys killing helpless animals so much that they could be next in line.”

Regarding the killing of animals PETA should keep its own doorstep clean. Animals that are freed by PETA, often with media impact, are seldom cared for until they are adopted. In 2016, the Washington Post reported that approximately 72 per cent of the rescued animals were put to sleep, not only because they were old, injured or too aggressive, but also because the effort to find a new home was described as a, “Waste of resources”. A former employee, who under the name of Mom2nomads, published her experiences on a blog, confirmed this. She says that not all new entries have been registered, or their weight has been reported as higher than it really is, so that more animals can be put to sleep without anyone knowing, some of them on the same day. Like the Chihuahua Maya belonging to nine-year-old Cynthia from Virginia. At the end of 2014, the animal vaccinated or sterilised and the owners could be encouraged to behave responsibly. But that was rejected outright. During this time, the organisation also decided to sterilise only the bitches of fighting dogs for cost reasons, knowing full well that there is a great danger that the male offspring could be used for dog fighting. All this has so exhausted me that I couldn’t bear it any more”. It is estimated that around 30,000 animals in PETA’s care have been killed over the last ten years. On flyers, PETA warns cat owners against letting their cats run free. The dangers posed by traffic and people are too great, in other words it’s a plea for keeping cats at home as the best way of life. Does this really do justice to the nature of the animal? And what is the difference between keeping a pet exclusively in one’s own four walls and keeping a tiger in a zoo enclosure suitable for the species? PETA’s line does not appear to be quite clear then put towards financing processes which cause more of a spectacle.

British photographer David Slater can also tell a tale or two. About six years ago, he observed and photographed macacos in Indonesia to publish a picture book. The animals got used to his presence. One day, a monkey he called Naruto took advantage of an unobserved moment to use the camera’s shutter release and took his own picture. At first, Slater thought it had been an absolute stroke of luck. But the photos went around the world because PETA accused the photographer of denying the monkey the right to his own image. So, the monkey has a right to determine his image and everything about it? Every reasonable thinking person asks himself, “What are they doing? But not PETA. The organisation has ruined the photographer with its legal cases. He couldn’t make it to San Francisco on the last day of the case because he couldn’t afford the aircraft ticket. The photos are so well known that he can’t earn any more money with them anyway. In his commentary about the grotesque monkey selfie, the author and moderator Micky Beisenherz asked on the German website www.stern.de, “What about the countless photos of dead animals whose corpses you show off without their consent for your campaigns, robbing them of their last dignity?” Would it not make more sense to put the money of animal-loving humans into genuine animal protection, instead of into numerous questionable campaigns, nonsensical legal processes and apparent animal shelters, which are more like killing stations, and above all into their own bank account? All donors are advised to check carefully who they provide their money to and whether this really makes sense. He who screams loudest is not always right, but the one who does the most, is.

“Ineffective” Pseudoscience about Orcas teeth

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Original article: http://www.huffingtonpost.de/philipp-j-kroia/zahnlose-pseudo-wissenschaft-zu-orca-zaehnen_b_18492062.html

By: Philipp J. Kroiß

It is a well-known topic of the animal rights industry: the teeth of orcas. Again and again, this is brought up and it exploits the ignorance of many trusting animal lovers to repeat already refuted accusations.

Orca teeth in the wildness

The teeth of killer whales are different from human teeth – not only in size and shape. The teeth of orcas are quite easy to  wear down due to their consistency. Orcas, which feed on many sharks in nature, even erode the teeth to the edge of the gums and then often die miserably. But orcas, which are eating other type of fish, show in their natural habitat significant wear down the teeth as you can see in captivity.

Why are the teeth wear out? Orcas have no hands. They also do not touch with their flippers, because they have other tasks than human hands, although they are anatomically in a similar position. Orcas feel their environment with the mouth. Tongue and teeth are necessary for exploring the environment. These were comparatively the soft teeth out. If you go to museums where orca skeletons are shown and the teeth are in their original state, you will find scuffed, missing and / or worn-out teeth. Anyone visiting the “reading room” of the Museum Naturalis in Leiden will see such an orca skeleton. The North Sea Museum Bremerhaven has given to the Sugar Museum in Berlin a carcass-eaten orca tooth. Quite famous is the skeleton of Old Tom, where you even see this very clearly.

Anyone who has the opportunity to look at their teeth during the necropsy of stranded animals will be able to see that it is difficult to find a perfect row of teeth. Particularly impressive are the photos from A. Kitchener. The photos in the National Museum Scotland show jaws from stranded animals. Under the registration number NMS.Z.2015.142.78 you can find a sub-adult male, which has a lack of seven teeth in the left lower jaw and three teeth in the right lower jaw and with very good visible black holes. In the upper jaw missing a total of 9 teeth and some are heavily abraded. A female (NMS.Z.2016.118) had no teeth in the upper jaw at all – quite as if there had never been any, and the rest was clearly rubbed off. These are just two examples of many.

Incidentally, such rows of teeth are not only a problem of orcas in the natural habitat – they are also found in other types of dolphins. As early as 1977 it was scientifically described that tooth diseases can be described as quite normal – for wild bottlenose dolphins and even for those in the Dolphinarium.


Orca’s teeth in captivity

The main difference between the ones living in the wild and the others in captivity is, that to the last ones you can treat the teeth well.

Unlike in nature, infections or other diseases rarely develop in the first place, and if they have then it will be quickly resolved after a relatively short treatment. For the animals this is less stressful than for most people the treatment at the dentist, because for them, the dental care is integrated into a training in which they participate voluntarily.

In the Loro Parque the animals are regularly cleaned – not with a brush, but with a stream of water. The animals seem to like this because they voluntarily come out of the water only to get their teeth cleaned by the trainers. So the rows of teeth of the animals could be in some kind worn out like in the wild orcas, but just healthy. Currently, no animal in the Loro Parque has any diseases in this direction – many wild of the same species would be glad if that would be their own case with. It would be almost surprising to see a flawless row of teeth in all animals.

At this point, I cannot speak about SeaWorld, because there I have neither seen the rows of teeth properly, nor am I aware exactly what measures are taken such as for dental care or how healthy the animals are currently. In Loro Parque, I was able to observe the animals in compliance with all safety standards, as an independent journalist. This snapshot of the matriarch Kohana was taken during a feeding session.Feeding  Orca matriarch Kohana | (c)opyright: Philipp J. Kroiß

Kohana is currently 15 years old and compared to other Orca matriarch, in the wild and in captivity, she has an impeccable set of teeth for her age. Both the veterinarianson site and an independent veterinarian, could confirm me in personal talks that no animal had any problems.

Pseudoscience of animal rights activists

Ingrid Visser, who occasionally visits Loro Parque and is one of the authors of a very dubious study of orca teeth, rightfully has no way to examine the orcas or take other photos than any other visitor. It would be negligent, for example, to let a person close to the animals that says, for example, that the adorable orca matriarch Morgan should rather be dead than live in Loro Parque.

Independent experts and scientists, however, who are not in contact with her; see that could have had a promising scientific career and throw it to the hut just to spread populism via orcas in captivity, or are involved with other activists of this grouping, may and should of course be able to assess the orcas. No credible scientist has yet complained about the dental situation. Thus, the Loro Parque achieved the best rating in the prestigious and independent audit for the Humane certificate.

Naturally, those who use disinformation to entice bona fide donors to their donation pot claim the opposite. Four of the five authors of the paper “Tooth damage in captive orcas (Orcinus orca)” are animal rights activists and none of them are veterinarians or experts in the field of Orca care. The animal rights industry is represented in this study of two dishonourably dismissed former SeaWorld Trainer, one animal rights author and of only a person with an academic qualification in this field, called Carolina Loch (Santos DASilva) – although she is not a veterinarian, and she has been involved with this study completely exposed to the mockery of serious scientists. Why?

Unlike reputable dental studies, these animals were never examined by veterinarians. The animal rights activists just went to the parks and took pictures – as every viewer can do (several meters away). Based on these photos, an evaluation took place. You have to imagine that: you go to the dentist, who takes pictures and then makes a diagnosis. This is not a serious doctor.

So anyone can understand that this pseudo-science is pretty “ineffective” because it cannot make representative statements.  It is because of their actions, the paper on which it was printed, not worth. The activists are currently trying to cover up their advertising for the study neatly to persuade donors to donate their well earned money to very intransparent and frivolous organizations, because in the animal rights industry you earn well – for the top players are three-digit annual salaries in the management floor not uncommon.  Such flamboyant scandals undoubtedly fill the coffers and are ultimately lucrative for populists by ultimately no spending.

What is left over?

Except for a bit of “publicity feed”, this study has no importance. Anyone who cites them as evidence in the professional world will be punished badly. It is not used except in the circles of animal rights, because it is not serious enough then just for than populism. Whether Loch will ever be able to work respectably again, after she gets her name for this ridiculousness, one has to wait. It is extremely embarrassing without a veterinarian, the neatly examined the animals to give from the audience perspective assessments on the health of animals and then want to sell the sale as a science. People who have been minimally concerned with the matter know that too.


The zoo world will keep this study active for a while, because it will certainly be dug up again and again by the fanatical zoo opponents. The Loro Parque has already informed about it. Since the activists keep affixing this theme, it has long been disproved on the zoos.media, YouTube channel, which cited a video by dolphinaria.truth:

We will see how long the animal rights activists will still ride on this already refuted “Möchtgern” argument and also how many articles, videos and blog posts there are.

What is certain, is that the laws of the animal rights industry also do not become truer although it is constantly repeated or tried to prove by ineffective pseudo-science.

Loro Parque – 45 years of progress

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Author: Rosemary Low

When Wolfgang Kiessling bought a small hotel on the island of Tenerife no one could have foreseen that this action would put the then small village of Punta Brava on the map worldwide. The fledgling parrot park the he opened there in 1972 was the forerunner of what today has been voted the world’s number one zoo by Trip Advisor. It has received countless other accolades.

When I was there in October I met an English couple who told me: “We don’t like zoos. But the Loro Parque is amazing. We loved it!”

The success of the park is due not only to its immaculate condition and exceptionally beautiful botanical garden setting, but to its constant upgrading of exhibits and the inauguration of new ones. However, it is what happens behind the scenes that makes Loro Parque a world leader. Its 4,000 parrots make it the most important reserve of parrot species anywhere on the planet, with 319 species and sub-species. But, in my view, even more important is Loro Parque Fundación.

Founded in 1994 to support conservation, it has done so in a manner unrivalled by any other organization. Up to 2016 it had committed more than US$17 million to conservation, mainly to parrot projects but also to cetaceans (dolphin and whales). At the 2017 board meeting held in October, it again allocated just over one million dollars to conservation for the coming year, under the able chairmanship of LPF’s Director Christoph Kiessling.

Loro Parque is famous for hosting an international parrot conference every four years, since the first in 1986. The conferences are a Mecca for everyone with a serious interest in parrots and always a meeting ground of countless friends.

Mr Kiessling once jokingly suggested to me of the event, “This is all your fault!”, since it was I who mooted the idea of a convention on our first meeting in 1984.

I have many memories of these important meetings but there is one that stands out about all others. In 1994 I was moved almost to tears by the presentation of Dr Niels Krabbe. He spoke about the yellow-eared parrot (Ognorhynchus icterotis) – then called a conure. He showed a video of what was the last know population. Only 60 birds were know to survive. So at the beginning of 1996 Loro Parque Fundación (LPF) started to support the work of Dr Krabbe in Ecuador. He was trying to protect the land on which the last remnant population was known.

I feared that this would be the next parrot to become extinct. Sadly, the Ecuator population disappeared in 1998, possibly trapped, but the species had been rediscovered in Colombia in 1997. The areas it inhabited were so remote that the tiny population could have died out, with only the local people noticing their disappearance.

The story of the yellow-eared parrot is without doubt the most remarkable in the whole history of parrot conservation and ranks near the top for bird conservation worldwide.

Today its population numbers more than four thousand individuals and its range has increased enormously.

The reason I dwell on this species is because there is no doubt that without the funding from LPF, which has reached more than US$1.5 million, and the personnel of ProAves who work in the field, there is no doubt that by now the charismatic yellow-eared parrot would be extinct. It would be difficult to over-state the importance of the work of the foundation. No other organization worldwide supports parrot conservation with even a fraction of the funding provided by LPF. Its projects are implemented by the staff of well chosen NGOs, such ProAves in Colombia and Aquasis and other in Brazil.

In the Philippines, the Katala Foundation, directed by the dynamic duo of Indira and Peter Widman, is largely founded by LPF. It has almost certainly staved off extinction for the red-vented cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia) with its multi-faceted programme of field work and education. Incidentally, the biggest genetic captive reserve of this cockatoo is held by the Loro Parque Fundación. Eight young have been reared so far this year.

Other examples of successful projects are too numerous to mention here. But the foundation’s work does not end in the field.

Scientific and veterinary research is also important. Veterinarian and vet students from the best universities in many countries have worked as interns in the clinic at Loro Parque, learning so much that assists the health and welfare of parrots and enabling them to share the knowledge gained.

Viral diseases are a major problem in parrot worldwide. Remarkable strides have been made by the veterinarians at Loro Parque in reducing or eradicating viral diseases in the collection. As an example, polyoma virus has been reduced from 7% in the collection in 2015, down to 0.1% today.

All birds bred in the park and in the Foundation’s breeding center are tested for viral diseases before they are sold. It should be noted that the income from such sales goes to the foundation.

At the board meeting the curator Marcia Weinzettl reported on the 2017 breeding season to date. Outstanding success included 23 blue-throated macaws (Ara glaucogularis), 27 Mount Apo lorikeets (Trichoglossus johnstoniae) and eight rarely bred Pesquet’s parrots (Psittrichas fulgidus).

Marcia’s aim, since she assumed the position of curator last year, is to annually increase the percentage of parent-reared young. In 2015 46% were parent-reared; this year (up to October) the total was 57% of the 779 chicks ringed. Other interesting statistics are that 190 pairs were made up last year and 59.7% of the parrots in the collection are adults.

Loro Parque is strongly represented in the media. In 2017, up to October, 186 articles were published about its work; personnel gave 33 radio interviews and twelve on television and spoke at 32 conferences. The Foundation has 35,800 followers on Facebook.

Thirty-six thousand copies of its newspaper Cyanopsitta were published, many of which were distributed in local newspapers, including colouring pages to attract the attention of children.

Loro Parque Statatement

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With regard to SeaWorld’s press release on November 7th, 2017 Loro Parque states the following:

As consequence of different criteria regarding the handling of the orcas at Loro Parque, both companies have agreed that these animals will remain in their present installations. All activities related to their wellbeing will be compliant to the European regulations, as has been done since their arrival at Loro Parque in 2006.

Loro Parque, with its team of professionals, will maintain its firm commitment in its work to ensure the maximum wellbeing of the animals, always fulfilling the applicable standards of the European Union.


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In 2016 Loro Parque sued PETA for its accusations made to SEPRONA (Spanish Environmental Police) for mistreatment of its orcas. PETA not only accused Loro Parque to SEPRONA but also started an international press campaign against the park, although the previous investigations of the Spanish Environmental Police confirmed that there were absolutely no indications of mistreatment and that the orcas were in optimal conditions.

The sentence published yesterday admits and accredits that “the installations of the orcas at Loro Parque fulfill the regulations in force and the general condition of the orcas is the correct one”.  It also states that “is unquestionable that the activity developed at Loro Parque complies strictly to the applicable legal requirements and counts with the obligatory authorizations and licenses” and accepts that it has been verified that “the zoological park has qualified personnel to take care of and medically treat the orcas that live in its installations”.

At no moment, the judicial resolution questions the wellbeing of the orcas in Loro Parque, on the contrary, it makes clear that the orcas are in good conditions, attended by qualified professionals and experts. This implies clearly that the accusations of mistreatment or even torture were not true.

However, the sentence weights between the right of honor and the freedom of speech. The court understands that these affirmations, although demonstrated as false, are protected by the freedom of speech. There is no doubt that in a democratic society this right has to be protected but it is also necessary to protect the legal and legitimate economic activities which are the motor of our society.

Therefore, Loro Parque will appeal this sentence to the High Court of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in order to address that the legitimate use of freedom of speech cannot be the excuse for organizing campaigns of defamation to commit an outrage against organizations like Loro Parque, who has been fighting for conservation of Nature and the wellbeing of animals for 45 years.