Loro Parque invites their neighbours from Punta Brava and Las Adelfas to visit its facilities

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To mark the celebration of the fiestas of Punta Brava, as every year, Loro Parque will open its doors so that its neighbours can enjoy its facilities free of charge during the week of September 2 to 8.

This action continues the company’s tradition of inviting its neighbours to the Parque during the local festivities and, at the same time, continues its mission to raise awareness and sensitise and educate visitors about the importance of wildlife preservation and animal welfare.

In this way, Loro Parque reinforces its commitment to the protection and conservation of all the animals in the facility, which act as authentic ambassadors of the members of their species in the wild.

To apply for entry, the neighbours of Punta Brava and Las Adelfas must provide their ID card or a certificate confirming their residence.

The myth of the early deaths

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One of the most widespread falsehoods from the anti-zoo groups is the high mortality of cetaceans under human care, or the myth of the early deaths. The main argument of these organizations is that handling, restraint, confinement, transport, isolation or crowding and an artificial diet lead to stress in captive cetaceans and, ultimately, a reduction in their life expectancy. And that is exactly what could be expected, if the terrible situation of suffering and deprivation described by the anti-zoo groups would be true, dolphins and orcas should have a much higher mortality rate. But, is this the case? If we analyze the scientific literature this is clearly not the case.

It has been recently published that dolphins under human care at least live as much as their wild counterparts, and can live more [1]. This research provides the most comprehensive assessment of life expectancy and survival rates for bottlenose dolphins, based on data from U.S. zoological facilities between 1974 and 2012. The mean life expectancy for bottlenose dolphins under human care based on this data is 28 years. This result is comparable to the life expectancy for bottlenose dolphins in European facilities [2] or even to Chinese aquariums [3], which indicates that under the best husbandry dolphins can live more than their wild counterparts. In some particular cases, like the United States Navy Marine Mammal Program, the mean life expectancy was even higher, reaching 30 years [4]. When mean life expectancy for wild bottlenose dolphins is calculated is typically half of the mean life expectancy for bottlenose dolphins under human care in recent years [1] [5]. Despite the lack of data and difficulties to measure the survivorship in wild dolphins results in non-statistical significance, it is clear that dolphins under human care live longer. Another relevant difference about dolphins under human care is that the mortality of calves during the first year is lower that the estimates for wild dolphins [6].

When analyzing killer whales, the situation is similar, the most recent scientific research proves that killer whales under human care live, at least as long as their wild counterparts [7]. The mean life expectancy for wild killer whales ranged from 29.0 years (Southern Residents) to 42.3 (Northern Residents), while the captive killer whales have a mean life expectancy of 41.6 years 7. These results debunk other myth: the idea that zoos do not spread correct longevity figures for dolphins and killer whales [8]. And also questions the post-reproductive theories in female killer whales [9].

If we look at maximum life expectancies (MLE), the dolphins under human care have a MLE of 50 years, while in the wild the maximum life expectancy for a dolphin varies from 31 to 36 years. The oldest dolphin under human care ever was Nellie, a female who died at Marineland Dolphin Adventure when she was 61. When the ages of wild orcas off the coast of Washington State are analyzed (over 350 individuals) it can be seen that less than 1% of the specimens exceed 60 years. Despite there have been killer whales under human care for less than 50 years (professionally managed) some individuals like Lolita or Corky are already in their 50s.

In the light of this scientific knowledge, which proves that life expectancy of cetaceans is similar or even greater under human care, it is clear that the speculations of suffering and deprivation spreaded by the anti-zoo groups during decades are not sustained by the facts.

For more please visit:

[1] Jaakkola, K., & Willis, K. (2019). How long do dolphins live ? Survival rates and life expectancies for bottlenose dolphins in zoological facilities vs . wild populations. Marine Mammal Science, 36(3), 248–261. https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12601

[2] Hartmann, M. G. (2000). The European studbook of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): 1998 survey results. Aquatic Mammals, 26(2), 95-100.

[3] Zhang, P., Sun, N., Yao, Z., & Zhang, X. (2012). Historical and current records of aquarium cetaceans in China. Zoo Biology, 31(3), 336–349. https://doi.org/10.1002/zoo.20400

[4] Venn-Watson, S. K., Jensen, E. D., & Ridgway, S. H. (2011). Evaluation of population health among bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) at the United States Navy Marine Mammal Program. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 238(3), 356-360.

[5] Stolen, M. K., & Barlow, J. (2003). A model life table for bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from the Indian River Lagoon system, Florida, USA. Marine mammal science, 19(4), 630-649.

[6] Sweeney, J. C., Stone, R., Campbell, M., McBain, J., Leger, J. S., Xitco, M., … & Ridgway, S. (2010). Comparative Survivability of Tursiops Neonates from Three US Institutions for the Decades 1990-1999 and 2000-2009. Aquatic Mammals, 36(3).

[7] Robeck, T. R., Willis, K., Scarpuzzi, M. R., & O’Brien, J. K. (2015). Comparisons of Life-History Parameters between Free-Ranging and Captive Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) Populations for Application Toward Species Management. Journal of Mammalogy, 96(5), 1055–1070. https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyv113

[8] Robeck, T. R., Willis, K., Scarpuzzi, M. R., & O’Brien, J. K. (2016). Survivorship pattern inaccuracies and inappropriate anthropomorphism in scholarly pursuits of killer whale (Orcinus orca) life history: A response to Franks et al. (2016). Journal of Mammalogy, 97(3), 899–905. https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyw023

[9] Foster, E. a., Franks, D. W., Mazzi, S., Darden, S. K., Balcomb, K. C., Ford, J. K. B., & Croft, D. P. (2012). Adaptive Prolonged Postreproductive Life Span in Killer Whales. Science, 337(6100), 1313–1313. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1224198


Loro Parque welcomes two newborn Emperor Tamarins

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Summer has seen new births in Loro Parque: two young Emperor Tamarins have arrived to join a family that began to grow last year, when they first had offspring.  This news is evidence of the wellbeing of the animals in the Parque and how well established the pair of Saguinus imperator is.

With this species, it is the male (or another member of the group) who carries the offspring until they become independent of the parents, and gives them to the mother from time to time for nursing.  In Loro Parque two pairs of twins have already been born, the first a year ago and the second recently and now they can all be observed enjoying family life in their home.

Emperor Tamarins originate from the forests of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Peru, where they feed mainly on fruit, flowers, nectar and small animals such as frogs, snails, lizards, spiders or insects.  It has characteristic whiskers, claws instead of nails on all fingers except the thumb and two teeth instead of three on each side of the jaw, both aspects that differentiate it from other species of monkeys.

Fortunately, it is listed as a species of least concern on the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), so it is not at risk of extinction.  However, the size of its populations is declining and its habitat is shrinking due to residential and commercial development and forest clearing, among other threats.

At Loro Parque, this family acts as a representative of their peers in nature, helping to make visitors aware of the importance of protecting wild animals and their natural habitats.  In addition, it promotes knowledge about the species, its reproduction and breeding, information that is also very valuable for the protection of populations in the wild.

The myth of the dental damage

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Dental damage occurs in some cetaceans under human care, there are dolphins and orcas that can have some of their teeth wear or even broken. This situation has never been hidden, on the contrary it was identified as a veterinary concern and published in a scientific journal almost 30 years ago[1], and since then several therapies have been developed to avoid the tooth pain and mitigate the risk of infection. On the other hand, dental damage is not exclusive of cetaceans under human care, the very same lesions can be found in wild dolphins and killer whales [2] [3].  Criticism against dolphinaria is misleading, as anti-zoo groups never mention dental damage in wild cetaceans when they expose teeth wear and broken tooth of dolphins and orcas under human care.

In this case the myth is not about the dental damage itself, but about its causes. Recently it has become a common argument for some anti-zoo groups to use dental damage as the definitive prove of boredom, pain and suffering. They have even presented dental problems as deadly hazard for cetaceans under human care. Those are just unfounded speculations, as there is not a single scientific study that relates dental damage in killer whales and boredom, nor about cetacean deaths related with dental problems. On the other hand, it is highly speculative to assume that dental damage produces pain or suffering, as it has been proven with other animals [4], the pain can only be assessed with behavioural studies.  It is not possible to infer pain from a picture of a broken tooth.

Dental wear has been described as a common phenomenon in wild cetaceans [5]. There are many documented cases of dental damage in wild cetaceans for many different reasons (abrasive food, manipulation of abrasive objects, hunting prey, agression, etc.). Its occurrence is influenced by tooth anatomy, animal physiology, biomechanics and behaviour. When the frequencies of occurrence, location and intensity of dental wear in ten species of dolphins from southern Brazil was evaluated only one species presented less than 50% of teeth worn[6]. This is also the case for killer whales. The first Antarctic killer whale stranded in 1974 had 25 broken teeth [7], a killer whale stranded in South Africa in 1969 presented a severe asimetric teeth wear [8].

Jaw abscesses and dental disease are a commonly observed problem in stranded killer whales in Washington state [9] and are caused by heavy tooth wear down to the gum line resulting in exposure and infection of the pulp cavity and surrounding tissue [10] [11] [12]. The earliest scientific publications referring this dental damage in killer whales are 70 years old. The dental problems in the wild populations of killer whales are so well known by the scientists worldwide, that has been considered even in the recovery plans for Southern Resident Killer Whales [13] and also for the killer whales in Gibraltar Strait[14]. In killer whales teeth typically have extremely limited function in food processing, so how can a broken teeth compromise the welfare of an animal? If the broken tooth does not produce any pain, inflammation or infection, there will not be significant effect in the welfare of an individual.

In 2017 a scientific paper describing the dental damage in captive killer whales was published based on an exhaustive analysis of multiple pictures of several killer whales in zoo settings. There wasn’t an exhaustive analysis of the whole population of killer whales under human care, but biased to some selected individuals. And there was no data from wild killer whales for comparison, not a detailed discussion regarding the abundant scientific literature about tooth damage in stranded orcas [15].  The main goal of the paper was to infer pain and suffering from a set of pictures, but without performing any other behavioural study [16], or veterinary diagnostic. As a result, the conclusions were highly speculative and deem invalid to assess the welfare status of the killer whales.

When the anti-zoo groups speculate about the pain produced by a broken tooth they fail to consider the same (and very frequent) situation in a wild killer whale. Can you imagine how painful it must be having dental damage and infections and not being able to visit a dentist in your entire life? Well this is the situation of wild killer whales, many of them with severe tooth damage [17] [18] [19] [20](even worst that the damage you can see in any killer whale under human care), but they would never be able to get veterinary care. They have to live with these painful wounds without any relief every single day of their entire lives. If somebody is truly concerned about the welfare problems produced by dental damage, they should be focusing on the wild killer whales. Under human care the welfare of the orcas with dental damage is not compromised, as veterinarians can relief the pain and treat the lesions avoiding inflammation or even infections. Obviously, as any veterinarian can confirm, all the treatments are carried out without any pain, using local anaesthetics. The fact is that when a tooth drill has to be performed (rarely) the animals participate voluntarily; keeping the mouth open while the procedure is carried out.

For more please visit:

[1] Graham, M. S., & Dow, P. R. (1990). Dental care for a captive killer whale, Orcinus orca. Zoo Biology, 9(4), 325–330. https://doi.org/10.1002/zoo.1430090408

[2] Ford, J. K., Ellis, G. M., Matkin, C. O., Wetklo, M. H., Barrett-Lennard, L. G., & Withler, R. E. (2011). Shark predation and tooth wear in a population of northeastern Pacific killer whales. Aquatic Biology, 11(3), 213-224

[3] Rica, C. (1996). A report of killer whales (Orcinus orca) feeding on a carcharhinid shark in Costa Rica. Marine Mammal Science, 12(4), 606-611.

[4] Fleming, M., & Burn, C. C. (2014). Behavioural assessment of dental pain in captive Malayan sun bears (Helarctos malayanus). Animal Welfare, 23(2), 131–140. https://doi.org/10.7120/09627286.23.2.131

[5] Loch, C., & Simões-Lopes, P. C. (2013). Dental wear in dolphins (Cetacea: Delphinidae) from southern Brazil. Archives of Oral Biology, 58(2), 134–141. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.ARCHORALBIO.2012.08.002

[6] Loch, C., & Simões-Lopes, P. C. (2013). Dental wear in dolphins (Cetacea: Delphinidae) from southern Brazil. Archives of Oral Biology, 58(2), 134–141. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.ARCHORALBIO.2012.08.002

[7] Castello, H. P., Tomo, A. P., & Panizza, J. S. (1974). First Antarctic record of a killer whale stranding. Sci Rep Whales Res Inst. Retrieved from https://www.icrwhale.org/pdf/SC026255-258.pdf

[8] Best, P. B., Meÿer, M. A., Thornton, M., Kotze, P. G. H., Seakamela, S. M., Hofmeyr, G. J. G., … Steinke, D. (2014). Confirmation of the occurrence of a second killer whale morphotype in South African waters. African Journal of Marine Science, 36(2), 215–224. https://doi.org/10.2989/1814232X.2014.923783

[9] Wiles, G. J. (2004). Washington State status report for the killer whale. (Orcinus orca). Washington Department Fish and Wildlife, Olympia. 106pp. 2004., (November), 106.

[10] Carl, G. C. (1946). A school of killer whales stranded at Estevan Point, Vancouver Island. Provincial Museum of Natural History and Anthropology.

[11] Tomilin, A. G. (1967). Mammals of the USSR and adjacent countries. vol. 9, Cetacea. Israel Program Sci. Transl, (1124).

[12] Caldwell, D. K., & Brown, D. H. (1964). Tooth wear as a correlate of described feeding behavior by the killer whale, with notes on a captive specimen. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences63(3), 128-140.

[13] Marine, N., Service, F., & Office, N. R. (2008). Recovery Plan for Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus orca), 1–251.

[14] Onservación, P. L. A. N. D. E. C., Orcas, D. E. L. A. S., Orca, O. R., El, E. N., Spañol, M. E. E., Adyacente, Y. A. T., … Gauffier, P. (n.d.). “p c ( o ) m e a .”

[15] Jett, J., Visser, I. N., Ventre, J., Waltz, J., & Loch, C. (2017). Tooth damage in captive orcas (Orcinus orca). Archives of Oral Biology, 84, 151–160. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.ARCHORALBIO.2017.09.031

[16] Fleming, M., & Burn, C. C. (2014). Behavioural assessment of dental pain in captive Malayan sun bears (Helarctos malayanus). Animal Welfare, 23(2), 131–140. https://doi.org/10.7120/09627286.23.2.131

[17] Wiles, G. J. (2004). Washington State status report for the killer whale. (Orcinus orca). Washington Department Fish and Wildlife, Olympia. 106pp. 2004., (November), 106.

[18] Carl, G. C. (1946). A school of killer whales stranded at Estevan Point, Vancouver Island. Provincial Museum of Natural History and Anthropology.

[19] Tomilin, A. G. (1967). Mammals of the USSR and adjacent countries. vol. 9, Cetacea. Israel Program Sci. Transl, (1124).

[20] Caldwell, D. K., & Brown, D. H. (1964). Tooth wear as a correlate of described feeding behavior by the killer whale, with notes on a captive specimen. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences63(3), 128-140.


The myth of the rake marks

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This absurd idea of using the rake marks as an evidence of unnatural aggression in cetaceans under human care is quite recent. In 2012 the Free Morgan Foundation was desperately fighting against the decision of the Dutch court to transport Morgan to Loro Parque. Despite Morgan was transferred on November 2011, the court case continued in Holland until 2014, when the Raad van State (Dutch Supreme Court) ruled that the transport of Morgan was absolutely lawful (and the only way for her to avoid euthanasia).

But, from the very beginning, Free Morgan Foundation was opposing to the transport and stubbornly requested to the Dutch authorities her release or her immediate transfer to a sanctuary (that didn’t exist in 2011 and still not existing nowadays). That’s the reason why in 2011 Free Morgan Foundation started a campaign against Loro Parque, trying to prove at any cost that Morgan was in a terrible situation in Orca Ocean. With that only goal in mind Ingrid Visser authored a non-scientific report [1] were she tried to depict the enormous suffering of Morgan at Loro Parque.  That was the first time she described the rake marks as an evidence of aggression in captive settings, suggesting that wild killer whales were gentle giants that never bite each other. This was the beginning of the myth.

This misleading story telling was aimed just in destroying the reputation of Loro Parque, arguing that Morgan was in danger, but there is no sound science behind it. There is no scientific literature comparing the rake marks in wild and captive cetaceans, hence there is no way to elucidate if the aggression is enhanced under human care.

What is absolutely clear in the scientific literature is that rake marks are frequently found in wild cetaceans. The first scientific description of rake marks in wild killer whales is from 1978 when the first behavioural analysis of the species was published [2]. If any catalogue of orca photo-identification is consulted, rake marks appear in almost every single individual [3] [4]. Rake marks are so common in cetaceans that recently, Marley et al., used them to identify different levels of aggression in wild dolphins [5]. In this scientific study it was demonstrated that 60% of the dolphins had rake marks, and the rest (40%) were usually young animals hence not likely to get involved in aggressive behaviours. In practice that demonstrates that any cetacean has rake marks, and it can be easily confirmed with a simple search in a scientific database, which provides examples of studies that use rake marks to describe and measure aggression in wild cetaceans [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11], and they are considered so common for the researchers that are even described as “natural marks” [12].

Ironically that’s not something that Ingrid Visser ignored when she wrote her report against Loro Parque in 2011, as she authored in 1998 a scientific paper describing prolific rake marks and collapsed dorsal fins in some orcas found in New Zealand [13]. But Visser didn’t mention any of the scientific papers describing rake marks in wild cetaceans when she presented her report to the Dutch Court in 2012. In fact, when she discussed the appearance of the same kind of marks in Morgan on this report, she also forgot to mention her previous research on prolific rake marks in wild killer whales in New Zealand. That clearly indicates a lack of ethics, and proves without any doubt that sometimes even scientists prefer to prioritize their political goals over their scientific knowledge.

The most recent scientific paper on rake marks [14] evidence that aggression directed to wild killer by the members of their own pod occurs and varies with age, sex and ecotype. The authors found rake marks virtually in any studied killer whale in the northeastern Pacific population, demonstrating the fact that rake marks in killer whales are the natural consequence of social aggression. Hence, the appearance of rake marks in whales under human care should not be considered a sign of bad welfare, but the consequence of a natural behaviour.

For more please visit:

[1] Visser, I. (2012) Report on the Physical & Behavioural Status of Morgan, the wild-born orca held in captivity at Loro Parque, Tenerife, Spain. Unpublished
[2] Martinez, D. R., & Klinghammer, E. (1978). A partial ethogram of the killer whale (Orcinus orca L.). Carnivore, 1(3), 13–27.
[3] Killer whales of Prince William Sound and Southeast Alaska A Catalogue of Individuals Photoidentified, 1976-1986. Edited By Graeme Ellis. West Coast Whale Research Foundation. 1040 West Georgia Street, Room 2020. Vancouver, British Columbia.
[4] Killer whales of Southeast Alaska A Catalogue of Photoidentified individuals (1997) Dahlheim, M, Ellifrit D. and Swenson J. Eds. Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service NOAA. Day Moon Press, Washington, 90 pp.
[5] Marley, S. A., Cheney, B., & Thompson, P. M. (2013). Using tooth rakes to monitor population and sex differences in aggressive behaviour in bottlenose dolphins (tursiops truncatus). Aquatic Mammals, 39(2), 107–115. https://doi.org/10.1578/AM.39.2.2013.107
[6] Scott, E. M., Mann, J., Watson-Capps, J. J., Sargeant, B. L., & Connor, R. C. (2005). Aggression in bottlenose dolphins: evidence for sexual coercion, male-male competition, and female tolerance through analysis of tooth-rake marks and behaviour. Behaviour142(1), 21-44.
[7] Rowe, L. E., & Dawson, S. M. (2009). Determining the sex of bottlenose dolphins from Doubtful Sound using dorsal fin photographs. Marine Mammal Science, 25(1), 19-34.
[8] Kügler, A., & Orbach, D. N. (2014). Sources of Notch and Scar Patterns on the Dorsal Fins of Dusky Dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus). Aquatic Mammals, 40(3).
[9] Dudzinski, K. M., Gregg, J., Melillo-Sweeting, K., Seay, B., Levengood, A., & Kuczaj II, S. (2012). Tactile contact exchanges between dolphins : self-rubbing versus inter-individual contact in three species from three geographies. International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 25, 21–43.
[10] Robinson, K. P. (2014). Agonistic intraspecific behavior in free-ranging bottlenose dolphins: Calf-directed aggression and infanticidal tendencies by adult males. Marine Mammal Science, 30(1), 381–388. https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12023
[11] Parsons, K. M., Durban, J. W., & Claridge, D. E. (2003). Male-male aggression renders bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) unconscious. Aquatic Mammals, 29(3), 360–362. https://doi.org/10.1578/01675420360736532
[12] Auger‐Méthé, M., & Whitehead, H. (2007). The use of natural markings in studies of long‐finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas). Marine Mammal Science, 23(1), 77-93.
[13] Visser, I. N. (1998). Prolific body scars and collapsing dorsal fins on killer whats (Orcinus orca) in New Zealand waters. Aquatic Mammals, 24, 71-82
[14] Robeck, T. R., St. Leger, J. A., Robeck, H. E., Nilson, E., & Dold, C. (2019). Evidence of Variable Agonistic Behavior in Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) Based on Age, Sex, and Ecotype. Aquatic Mammals, 45(4), 430–446. https://doi.org/10.1578/AM.45.4.2019.430

The Loro Parque Company presents the recognition of Siam Park as the best water park in the world for the sixth consecutive time

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Loro Parque has, this Friday, August 2, presented the results of the Travellers’ Choice TripAdvisor award, where Siam Park was chosen as the best water park in the world for the sixth consecutive year.  At the same time, the progress of The Loro Parque Foundation projects and the strategies for the elimination of single-use plastic in all the Company’s facilities have been disclosed.

The event, held at the Real Casino de Tenerife, was attended by the President of the Loro Parque Company Wolfgang Kiessling, the Vice-President of the Company, President of Siam Park and the Loro Parque Foundation Christoph Kiessling, the Director of the Loro Parque Foundation Dr. Javier Almunia and the Scientific Director of the Foundation Rafael Zamora.

On the recognition of Siam Park, President Christoph Kiessling revealed that “the keys to success” are “apart from transmitting the philosophy of Loro Parque, in terms of the service, friendliness, smiles and professionalism of the team, are being good value for money and using renewable energy properly”.

As far as environmental conservation projects are concerned, the President of Loro Parque stressed that “a commitment has been made to the Canary Islands”.  Therefore, one million euros has been given to the CanBio project, in collaboration with the Canary Islands Government which has contributed another million, for research into climate change in the sea and ocean acidification and its effects on marine biodiversity in the Canary Islands and Macaronesia, especially on cetaceans, turtles, sharks and rays.

Through this project, which is scheduled to be carried out over four years, they aim to help protect the animals that live in this space and be an example for other regions, explained the Director of The Loro Parque Foundation Javier Almunia.

The occasion also served to announce that the company has eliminated the use of more than 30 tons of single-use plastic and has declared that they aspire to continue promoting the search for solutions to keep the oceans cleaner.

“We must not forget that we can’t live without plastic” so “we can only reduce its use where we have the capacity to act” emphasised the Company President Wolfgang Kiessling.

The representatives of Loro Parque, recognised as the best zoo in the world, have thus outlined their objective of making citizens aware of the environmental problems faced by the oceans and the different species that inhabit them.

The Loro Parque Foundation saves nine species that were in danger of extinction

The Scientific Director of The Loro Parque Foundation, Rafael Zamora, stressed that 100 per cent of the income received by the Foundation is earmarked for nature conservation programs.  Thus, through its more than 180 projects and US$19.7 million invested, nine species have been saved from imminent extinction in different parts of the world.