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”.

The Loro Parque Foundation and the Canary Islands Government present ‘CanBio’, a joint project to study the effects of climate change on the sea

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The Loro Parque foundation and the Canary Islands Government have, this morning, Thursday November 15, presented ‘CanBio’, a pioneering project through which the University of La Laguna (ULL) and the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) will study the effects of climate change in the sea. Present at the event were the Canary Islands Minister of Economy, Industry, Trade and Knowledge Pedro Ortega, the founder and Honorary President of The Loro Parque Foundation Wolfgang Kiessling and the rector of the ULPGC Rafael Robaina, as well as researchers from the Canary Islands public universities.

The project plans to invest two meuros over four years, spread over several lines of work ranging from monitoring the parameters of marine chemistry, to the study of communities of algae, angel sharks or sea turtles. The Foundation, based in what is recognised as the world’s best zoo, will thus be helping the dissemination of as much information as possible to monitor the effects of global change in 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 Canarian universities and other scientific research centres, and will initiate the development of a coastal network for monitoring marine environmental parameters linked to climate change, ocean acidification and underwater noise pollution, as well as their effects on the marine biodiversity of the Canary Islands.

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

All these actions establish synergies with the previous activity of The Loro Parque Foundation in the archipelago and, in each case, will provide essential information with which to interpret the effects that global change will produce in the marine organisms of the Canary Islands and Macaronesia. Thus, the region will become a world reference, providing relevant data on climate change for the international community, as well as helping to diagnose the effects of global change in the area.

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

Loro Parque and Poema del Mar join other aquariums and the European Commission to fight against plastic

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As part of their commitment to the protection of wild species and their natural habitats, Loro Parque and Poema del Mar have decided to join forces with the European Commission and the United Nations Environment Programme, as well as other international partners, to launch a coalition of aquariums to fight plastic pollution.  Aquariums around the world will organise permanent activities at their facilities and change their policies to eliminate all single-use plastic items.

This new action is part of a strategy that the Loro Parque Company began at the beginning of this year (2018), by which it has been replacing numerous products by alternatives made with biodegradable and compostable materials, which are more environmentally responsible.  Thus, Loro Parque has recently announced the replacement of single-use plastic water bottles with biodegradable and compostable ones, becoming one of the pioneering European zoos in taking a decision of such magnitude and in ceasing the generation of single-use plastic bottles as waste.

This coalition, dubbed ‘World aquariums #ReadyToChange to #BeatPlasticPollution’, aims to be able to count on at least 200 aquariums by 2019 to increase public awareness of the pollution caused by plastics.  All participating entities will commit to promoting best practices in the use of plastics at local, regional, national and global levels.

The announcement of this campaign follows the overwhelming vote in the European Parliament this week on the Commission’s proposal for a ban on certain single-use plastic articles by 2021.  “Aquariums are a window to our ocean,” said Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.  “With their collections and educational programmes, they show us what we have to protect and inspire lovers of tomorrow’s oceans.  Millions of people visit aquariums around the world every year.  This will move them to rethink the way we use plastics.”

Serious threat to marine species

Enormous quantities of plastic waste pollute seas and coasts, and threaten most marine species.  Whilst cleaning beaches is an important and necessary measure, it’s urgent that society change its production and consumption habits, as well as its behaviour, to prevent plastics from entering the environment in the first place.

The Loro Parque Company promotes its new products at the World Travel Market

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Loro Parque, Siam Park, Poema del Mar, Hotel Botánico and Brunelli’s are taking part this week in the World Travel Market, the prestigious business-to-business travel fair held annually in London with the aim of publicising the most important novelties that the Company is making available to its customers.

Loro Parque, recognised as the best zoo in the world for the second year in a row by TripAdvisor users, is proving that it continues to be firmly committed to biodiversity conservation and innovation in its facilities.  On this occasion, it’s presenting two new recently inaugurated and impressive exhibits: the Zen Garden, a submerged aquarium unique in the world that perfectly maintains the balance between flora and fauna, and the as close to nature as possible installation for the Pygmy Hippos, specially designed to provide the greatest welfare for the new guests.  Loro Parque Foundation, for its part, and after winning in 2015 the World Travel Leaders Award given by World Travel Market, continues to play an important role in the educational and conservation work that identifies Loro Parque.

Siam Park is presented, for the fifth consecutive year, as the best water park in the world, and continues to reap international success.  In World Travel Market you can consult its latest prizes, among which the European Star Awards stands out for the best water park in Europe for the seventh consecutive year.  This year, two new attractions are captivating all the professionals who are attending the fair: Patong Rapids, a new ride that breaks with all the moulds surpassing the already incredible Mekong Rapids, and Coco Beach, a new children’s area that allows the younger children to enjoy great adventures in the company of their family.

For its part, Poema del Mar is taking advantage of the international meeting to take stock, now that it is about to celebrate the first anniversary since its opening in December of last year.  The new great aquarium of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has had unprecedented success, showing its visitors impressive aquatic species from all over the world.  Among its facilities, Deep Sea stands out, an exhibition with the world’s largest curved glass window, which reproduces the most profound of the ocean depths.

Brunelli’s is present at the fair for the fourth consecutive year to present its exquisite gastronomic offer, starring the most select cuts of meat.  The restaurant, located opposite Loro Parque in Puerto de La Cruz, offers a refined atmosphere and the best sea views in the Canary Islands, in addition to its exclusive Southbend oven, unique in the archipelago.  This year it has been distinguished with the award as the best meat restaurant in Tenerife according to TripAdvisor.

The Hotel Botánico*****GL, for its part, is taking the opportunity to publicise the quality and comfort offered by its facilities, ideal for living a dream vacation in this hotel which has been recognised this year with the TUI Holly award, placing it among the 100 best hotels in the world, among the 12,000 which work with the TUI Group.  Its new Ayurveda treatments, its magnificent spa complex, The Oriental Spa Garden, and its incredible and varied gastronomic offer are an incomparable presentation showcase.