Baby chimpanzee born at Loro Parque

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Loro Parque has recently welcomed a baby chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) in its facilities, which is in perfect condition and already shares the space in harmony with the rest of the family. For the moment, as it spends its days clinging to its mother’s fur, its sex is unknown. The last ones to join the group were Happy, in 2017, and Garoé, in 2018.

Its birth shows that the animals at Loro Parque are in a good state of wellbeing and that life goes on despite having been closed for almost a year due to the COVID-19 crisis. All the animals living in the zoo’s facilities have continued to receive all their care, and furthermore, all necessary biosecurity measures have been reinforced to protect them from the coronavirus.

This species arrived at the Park in 1978, when the mayor of Puerto de la Cruz asked Wolfgang Kiessling for help to house five specimens that had been seized from street photographers who had used them to take photos with tourists. Now, they enjoy an extraordinary facility created in 1998, with a large outdoor enclosure set with rocks, lush vegetation and soothing cascading waterfalls. Today, they form one of the most successful breeding groups of this subspecies in Europe.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has included the chimpanzee on its red list with the status critically endangered. Although it is the most widespread and numerous primate species, in recent decades it has suffered a sharp decline due to the loss and alteration of its habitat as a result of the expansion of human activities. It is estimated that, at this rate of degradation, the global chimpanzee population in 2030 will be reduced by half.

The video of Steve Hofstetter about PETA

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Did you know that PETA has killed 41,539 animals including a dog they stole off of someone’s porch? Now you do. And here’s why. I love dogs. I even have one! This is Milton. Hey Milton, can you say PETA sucks? We’re working on it. Let me speak clearly here, I am not saying “Peter sucks” although I’m sure there’s someone out there named Peter who does. I mean P-E-T-A. People for the ethical treatment of animals. That’s the most misleading name since the movie 88 minutes actually took 111. The reality is PETA does not treat animals ethically – at all. Let’s start with their kill rate. PETA runs an animal shelter in Norfolk, Virginia.

That’s good, right? Well, it should be. According to Virginia’s department of agriculture and consumer services, Virginia’s private shelters euthanized 4.3% of dogs they took in in 2019. Let’s see what PETA’s euthanization rate was: just slightly higher than 4.3% at…57%. Yep, if you took a dog into PETA’s shelter in 2019, the odds that it was put down are better than the odds it was than adopted out. Way better, actually, because PETA only adopted out 1.8% of the dogs that were brought in. While the average in other Virginia private shelters was a 75% adoption rate. If you brought a dog into PETA’s shelter in 2019, it was 30 times more likely to get killed than adopted.

Should I stop here? I should be afraid that PETA supporters are going to release the hounds on me, but PETA has already made sure they’ve been put down. Want some more statistics? Sure. The scariest thing is that 2019 was PETA’s most humane year. Killing 57% of dogs and 72% of cats that came through its shelter was a huge improvement over previous years, where PETA killed above 97% of all animals that came through their doors. PETA’s kill

rate topped 90% for six years in a row. Since 1998, PETA’s self-reported numbers say that they’ve taken in 49,737 animals and killed 41,539 of them for an 83.5% kill rate over the course of 20 years.

That’s not a shelter, that is a slaughterhouse. Well, not really – at least a slaughterhouse doesn’t trick people into bringing them cows. And that is according to PETA’s own records. Or as I like to call them – the PETA-files. What possible explanation could PETA have for killing the vast majority of animals in their shelter? A few years ago Heather Carlson, the “Manager of Communications” for PETA followed me on twitter. I pressed her on PETA having a kill

rate that Jeffrey Dahmer would find excessive. Ms. Carlson quickly told me she was NOT a spokesperson – despite her Twitter bio saying she was the manager of communications. Ms. Carlson also told me that “they see the worst cases”, repeating the story PETA often feeds to the public. That PETA somehow takes in the lost cause animals that other shelters don’t want, which is why so many have to be put down. And that would make sense except that it’s total bullshit.

First of all, PETA has MONEY. PETA raised over $50 million dollars last year, and, according to their own reporting, they spent $20 million of that on “Research, Investigations, and Rescue”. How many animal adoptions did that $20 million dollars go towards last year? Just 29. That is about $700,000 per successful adoption. Seems…excessive. What are they feeding the dogs, five dollar bills? And yes – PETA does transfer SOME of the animals they don’t end up killing to other shelters. So the extremely well-funded PETA transfers some of their allegedly last chance animals to other shelters that have way less money. And miraculously, those shelters find a way to NOT KILL MOST OF THOSE ANIMALS.

PETA isn’t a national shelter – it’s local, just to the Norfolk, Virginia area. People don’t drive for hours to drop off abandoned dogs, they bring them to whatever shelter is closest. Also, other private shelters aren’t turning away animals that are sick en masse. In fact, PETA actually transfers more animals to other shelters than it adopts out – so the idea that they are the animal’s last chance is statistically incorrect, as other shelters actually take in PETA animals. Despite what they claim, PETA isn’t some last chance sanctuary – PETA gets whatever animals that happen to be brought to them. Except in the cases where they actively kidnap family pets, like they did in 2014 when they tried to coax a family dog off a porch. When the dog wouldn’t come, PETA representatives trespassed and took the dog. They denied it of course, and it was he said/she said. Except the owner had it on film. Which would save the dog, because Virginia has a law requiring shelters to keep dogs for at least 5 days before putting them down. PETA, however, admitted to killing the dog within a few hours of taking it. And then PETA tried to settle the matter by giving the family a fruit basket.

Because they’re super villains. Calling PETA super villains is a bit harsh – until you read why they’ve been killing so many animals. I don’t mean to let the cat out of the bag. But PETA, please let all your cats out of your bags. In Batman Begins, Ra’s al Ghul wants to save the people of Gotham from crime. And he decides the best way to do that is to kill them all. Sorry if that spoils the plot for you, but that movie is from 2005. That movie is so old, it is old enough to buy a ticket to a more recent Batman movie.

Ingrid Newkirk, PETA’s founder, told the Washington Post that outdoor cats should be killed instead of left to wander. And that is a stance others have taken as well. But Newkirk doesn’t stop with outdoor cats. Newkirk called having any pet “an abysmal situation.” She also said “If people want toys, they should buy inanimate objects. If they want companionship, they should seek it with their own kind.” And she said “I think it would be lovely if we stopped this whole notion of pets altogether.”

And that is what PETA is trying to do. They’re trying to eliminate pets. PETA believes that dogs like Milton are better off dead than owned by people like you and I. That it is somehow torture to provide dogs with meals, toys, walks, belly rubs, and like 8 beds throughout the house. Yeah, Milton has a pretty good life. And PETA wants him dead. They want your dog dead, too.

I agree with PETA that there are too many animals in shelters, and I agree that plenty of pet owners should not be pet owners. But we can fix those problems without murdering all the animals. As the saying goes, there’s more

than one way to skin a cat. Which is something PETA has probably done. And to make this even more ridiculous, Heather Carlson – remember, the manager of communications that somehow isn’t a spokesperson – said she adopted her dogs from PETA. So of the few dozen dogs they actually adopt out each year to keep the guise of an animal shelter, some of them go to their own damn staff.

I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but I also want PETA to stop killing horses. That is a joke. They mainly kill cats and dogs. See, the state of Virginia once tried to close PETA, and various groups have advocated for legally re-classifying PETA as a slaughterhouse. Which would eliminate PETA’s 501c3 status that they’re able to keep because they’re classified as a shelter. Now do you see why an organization that seeks to eliminate pets helps a few people adopt them? Because it makes their slaughterhouse tax-exempt.

So why am I making this video? Because I want PETA to stop killing animals. I can’t stop them from making horrifying books for kids that graphically show animal slaughter. And I can’t stop their idiotic campaign to try to get us to change animal-based idioms. Like changing “kill two birds with one stone” to “feed two birds with one scone”. Yeah, that’s a real thing. I won’t get into the rest of them because I don’t want this video to be longer than the movie 88 Minutes. But I want PETA to stop posing as a “shelter”. I want them to never physically touch another animal again. I want the state of Virginia to keep trying to close their “shelter” until it works. And suddenly, I kind of want a scone. But what do I know. I should probably just stick to comedy.

If you like this video, check out my last Stick To Comedy video here. Subscribe to my YouTube channel here, and check out my live streams here.

Marineland denounces “injustice” and “damage to cetacean health” by Assembly vote on ending dolphinariums

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MEPs voted on a text that prohibits the keeping and breeding of these animals in captivity, as well as their participation in shows.

  • On 29 January, the National Assembly adopted a bill that finally signed into law the end of dolphinariums.
  • “Beyond the extremely detrimental prospect for the health and welfare of cetaceans, this decision, needless to say, has serious consequences regarding employment and the economy,” denounced Marineland’s director general on Thursday.

The Parc Marino de Antibes took the time to react. But its analysis is definitive after the adoption of a bill on 29 January by the National Assembly, that finally puts an end to dolphinariums. Pascal Picot, managing director of Marineland, evoked on Thursday the decision as “detrimental to the health and well-being of cetaceans”.

The deputies voted almost unanimously in favour of this text to combat animal abuse without “giving zoological institutions the opportunity to express themselves”, he said, condemning this as an ” injustice”. The proposed law prohibits the keeping and breeding of cetaceans in captivity, as well as their participation in shows.

Animals transferred to “experimental enclosures”?

Animals that may be transferred to demarcated and protected marine areas. A prospect Pascal Picot says he fears. “We cannot expose the animals for which we are responsible to the risks that experimental enclosures could expose them to,” he says, stressing the park’s “strong desire” to “work with the various stakeholders” in exploring the “feasibility” of these areas.

“Beyond the prospect of seriously damaging the health and welfare of cetaceans, as well as the research, conservation and education missions carried out by zoos, there is no need to say that this decision entails serious consequences for employment and the economy,” he denounces. In 2019, according to figures communicated by Marineland, the JRC Nice estimated the economic impact of the park at 97.9 million euros. It is also believed to generate around 952 full-time jobs per year.

Loro Parque’s statement on the new French law on animal welfare

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In relation to the law passed by the French National Assembly last Friday, 26th January, Loro Parque hereby states that unfortunately the line of this new legislation, which by its nature should defend the fundamental principles of animal welfare, in reality, has very little to do with them.

What is more, it is a purely political decision that does not even take into account the opinions of the subject-matter experts of the French Ministry. Thus, the Minister for Ecological Transition has been asked on several occasions by some MEPs to make public the report drawn up by her Ministry’s officials, which was intended to assess the state of cetaceans in French dolphinaria over the last two years. However, the minister refused to present it. For what reason, we ask? Simply because the report confirmed the optimal animal welfare and the perfect conditions, in which cetaceans are kept in French zoological institutions.

What we find truly disturbing is the fact that the minister’s arguments, like the proposed law, were simply false myths lacking any scientific basis or foundation. The clear anti-zoo agenda was also evidenced by the ignoring of all the scientifically backed arguments that were put forward by those parliamentarians who objected to the inclusion of cetaceans in the law.

The manifesto of the hundreds of scientists who signed the letter from the European Association for Aquatic Mammals (EAAM) in support of research activities in marine mammal facilities was also ignored:

Declaración de científicos en apoyo a las actividades de investigación en las instalaciones de mamíferos marinos

The Minister’s statements can be “debunked” in a few minutes with all the argumentation concentrated in the following Encyclopedia that is based on hundreds of scientific publications and reports produced and available to the public for years.

For us, it is more than clear that neither the minister, nor any of the promoters of this law, have stopped to think carefully about the suffering that will now be caused to all the dolphins that will now have to be separated into groups according to their sex and most probably also subjected to contraceptive treatments that produce side effects that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Not to mention the fact that the animals will have to be divided into groups because no single zoo will be able to take on the responsibility of caring for so many dolphins on its own.

Anyone who imagines that any of these animals will ever live in a sanctuary is delusional. As we have stated on many occasions, marine mammal sanctuaries do not exist. Take for example the case of the beluga whale sanctuary project in Iceland, where within weeks of being released into the bay, the animals had to be moved back to their much-reduced indoor facilities; under the pretext, that they could be better cared for. So, the tale of sanctuaries is not so nice and perfect after all?

So, therefore, we appeal to the common sense of true animal and nature lovers and protectors to speak out against this authentic crime against cetaceans born and kept under human care in modern zoos and dolphinariums.

Pole Pole

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Today we are saddened to announce the passing of Pole Pole, a Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), who was a part of the Loro Parque family since 1995. Originally from the Zurich Zoo, Pole Pole was a true ambassador for his species and a true pillar within our group of single males, and we will miss him very much!

For the past 5 years, Pole Pole had been struggling with a degenerative disease that affected his spine in the lumbar region causing the decline of his physical condition. Recently, his health deteriorated further due to unexpected complications caused by a possible stroke and, after consultation with the experts of the international EEP (European Endangered Species Programme) to which Pole Pole belonged, it was concluded that humane euthanasia was the only alternative for the animal. Throughout his final years, we were able to guarantee him the highest possible quality of life, adapting the facility to his needs and providing him with all the care he required.

It is common for the zoological parks to take in wild animals that, due to specific conditions, could not survive in the wild, such as animals that reach a very advanced age and have natural processes associated with ageing that would cause their death. However, in zoos we have the possibility to offer an excellent quality of life for such animals for many years to come. Such is the case of Schorsch, a gorilla of almost 50 years with serious vision impairment, who lives in Loro Parque and counts with the enormous affection of all his keepers who, very lovingly, take care of him and provide him with everything he requires, at the same time also adapting his daily routines with the sole objective of ensuring his wellbeing.

The bachelor group represents a key part of the EEP programme, as it allows to ensure greater genetic exchange and helps to manage the family groups in other zoos. A very successful case within this programme is that of Leon, a gorilla who was sent to Brazil from Loro Parque to form his own family and who has already fathered 3 offspring with his two companions: Imbi and Lou Lou.

Scientist Statement Supporting Research in Marine Mammal Facilities

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We, the undersigned members of the scientific community, wish to acknowledge the importance of marine mammals in zoos, aquariums, and marine mammal facilities, and express our support for research conducted at these facilities. We know that critical research findings have come from studies of dolphins and related species in managed care environments, which have provided the vast majority of what is known about their perception, physiology, and cognition. This includes both basic facts about these animals and applied information such as how they react to environmental stressors and how to diagnose and treat their diseases.

The benefits of such research extend well beyond the animals in zoological facilities. The interpretation of data from field studies is directly informed by what we have learned about the cognition and physiology of these animals in managed care settings. Moreover, because science is inherently a collaborative endeavor, research findings from these animals contribute to our collective understanding across the animal kingdom. Finally, research in managed care settings impacts conservation efforts by: (a) providing the baseline information necessary to inform conservation plans and practices (e.g., typical respiration rates, metabolic rates, gestation length, hearing range and thresholds, etc.), (b) documenting physiological and behavioral responses to environmental stressors such as sound and contaminants to inform population managers, and (c) developing and testing techniques and tools for assessing animals in the field.

The advances that have come from research in marine mammal facilities could not have come from studies of animals in the wild. Field studies are crucial, however, many research questions are unsuited to discovery at a distance. Studies of pregnancy, birth, and fine-scale calf development require the type of close and consistent observation that is only possible in zoological settings. The hypothesis testing required for questions about cognition, perception, and physiology requires the ability to present animals with specific situations and challenges utilizing the necessary controls, consistency, and repetition that are impossible to achieve in the wild. Indeed, as with research in any discipline, a comprehensive understanding of these animals requires a combination of both in-situ and ex-situ studies; studies based in the wild and in zoological settings. This idea is neither new nor specific to marine mammals, but is critical to the way scientific discovery works.


Charles I. Abramson, PhD, Oklahoma State University (2021)
Michael Adkesson, DVM, Dipl ACZM, Chicago Zoological Society / Brookfield Zoo (2016)
Javier Almunia, PhD, Loro Parque Fundación (2016)
Audra Ames, PhD, Fundación Oceanografic (2021)
Mats Amundin, PhD, Kolmarden Wildlife Park (2021)
Kristin Anderson Hansen, PhD in behaviour and bioacoustics, University of Southern Denmark, Universi-
ty of Veterinary Medicine (2021)
Manuel Arbelo Hernández, DVM, PhD, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (2021)
Carlos Barros García, BVSc, BSc, Fundación Oceanogràfic (2021)
Richard Bates, PhD, University of St. Andrews (2016)
Gordon B. Bauer, PhD, New College of Florida (2016)
Don R. Bergfelt, PhD, Ross University, School of Veterinary Medicine (2016)
Simone Bertini, PhD, University of Parma (2021)
Alicia Borque Espinosa, PhD Student, University of Valencia & Fundació Oceanogràfic (2021)
Gregory D. Bossart, VMD, PhD, Georgia Aquarium (2016)
Ann E. Bowles, PhD, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (2016)
David Brammer, DVM, DACLAM, University of Houston (2016)
Micah Brodsky, VMD, Consulting (2016)
Jason N. Bruck, PhD, University of St. Andrews, School of Biology, Sea Mammal Research Unit (2016)
Josep Call, PhD, University of St Andrews (2016)
Susan Carey, PhD, Harvard University (2016)
Tonya Clauss, DVM, Georgia Aquarium (2016)
Fernando Colmenares, PhD, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (2016)
Richard C. Connor, PhD, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (2016)
José Luís Crespo Picazo, BVSc, Fundación Oceanogràfic (2021)
Boris Culik, PhD, F3 (2016)
Leslie M. Dalton, DVM, SeaWorld San Antonio (2016)
Robin Kelleher Davis, PhD, Harvard Medical School & Schepens Eye Research Institute (2016)
Randall Davis, Regents Professor, Texas A&M University (2021)
Renaud de Stephanis, PhD, CIRCE (2021)
Fabienne Delfour, PhD, L.E.E.C., Paris 13 University (2016)
Stacey N. DiRocco, DVM, SeaWorld of Florida (2021)
Manuel E. dos Santos, PhD, MARE-ISPA (2021)
Alistair D.M. Dove, PhD, Georgia Aquarium (2016)
Samuel Dover, DVM, Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (2016)
Maureen Varina Driscoll, PhD, Sea Research Foundation Inc. dba Mystic Aquarium (2021)
Kathleen M. Dudzinski, PhD, Dolphin Communication Project; Editor, Aquatic Mammals Journal (2016)
Holli Eskelinen, PhD, Dolphins Plus (2016)
Andreas Fahlman, PhD, Fundación Oceanografic (2021)
Antonio J. Fernández Rodríguez, DVM, PhD, Veterinary School University, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Letizia Fiorucci, DVM, MRCVS, PhD, Jungle Park & Aqualand Costa Adeje (2021)
Frank E. Fish, PhD, West Chester University (2021)
Jen Flower, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACZM, Mystic Aquarium (2021)
Lars Folkow, Professor, PhD, University of Tromsø the Arctic University of Norway (2021)
Vanessa Fravel, DVM, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (2016)
Erin Frick, PhD., Eckerd College (2021)
María del Carmen Fuentes Albero, MSc, University of Murcia, Fundación Oceanografic (2021)
Steven J.M. Gans, MD, St. Jansdal Hospital (2016)
Lino García Morales, PhD, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (2021)
Daniel García Párraga, DVM, Dipl.ECZM(ZHM), Dipl.ECAAH(N-P), Fundación Oceanogràfic (2021)
Joseph Gaspard, PhD, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium (2016)
William G. Gilmartin, President, Hawai`i Wildlife Fund (2016)
Joan Giménez Verdugo, PhD, MaREI-University College Cork (2021)
Carrie Goertz, MS, DVM, Alaska SeaLife Center (2021)
Francesco Grande, DVM, MRCVS, Spec. in Animal Health, Loro Parque Fundación (2021)
Andrew Greenwood, MA VetMB DipECZM CBiol FRSB FRCVS, Wildlife Vets International (2021)
Federico Guillén Salazar, PhD, Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera (Valencia, Spain) (2021)
Heidi E. Harley, PhD, New College of Florida (2016)
Martin Haulena, DVM, MSc, DACZM, Ocean Wise Conservation Association (2021)
M. Victoria Hernández Lloreda, PhD, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (2021)
Susan Hespos, PhD, Northwestern University (2016)
Heather M. Hill, PhD, St. Mary s University (2016)
Matthias Hoffmann-Kuhnt, PhD, Tropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore
Bradley Scott Houser, DVM, Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium (2016)
Dorian Houser, PhD, National Marine Mammal Foundation (2021)
Marina Ivančić, DVM, DACVR, AquaVetRad (2016)
Kelly Jaakkola, PhD, Dolphin Research Center (2016)
Vincent Janik, Prof., University of St. Andrews (2021)
Frants H. Jensen, PhD, Aarhus University (2016)
Eve Jourdain, PhD, Norwegian Orca Survey (2021)
Allison B. Kaufman, PhD, University of Connecticut, Avery Point (2016)
Darlene Ketten, PhD, Boston University – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (2021)
Stephanie L. King, PhD, Centre for Evolutionary Biology, University of Western Australia (2016)
Sara Königson, Researcher at SLU Aqua, Swedish University of Agriculture Science (2021)
Anastasia Krasheninnikova, PhD, Max-Planck-Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen (2021)
Stan Kuczaj, PhD, University of Southern Mississippi (2016)
Peter H. Kvadsheim, PhD, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (2021)
Geraldine Lacave, DVM, Marine Mammal Veterinary Services (2021)
Robert C. Lacy, PhD, Chicago Zoological Society (2016)
Jef Lamoureux, PhD, Boston College (2016)
Jennifer Langan, BS, DVM, Dipl. ACZM, Dipl. ECZM (ZHM), University of Illinois, Chicago Zool. Soci-
ety / Brookfield Zoo (2021)
Gregg Levine, DVM, (2016)
Malin Liley, PhD, Texas A&M University- San Antonio (2021)
Christina Lockyer, B.Sc., M.Phil., Sc.D., Age Dynamics, Kongens Lyngby (2021)
Juliana López Marulanda, PhD, Universidad de Antioquia (2021)
Klaus Lucke, PhD, Centre for Marine Science & Technology, Curtin University (2016)
Heidi Lyn, PhD, University of Southern Mississippi (2016)
Radhika Makecha, PhD, Eastern Kentucky University (2016)
Xavier Manteca, BVSc, MSc, PhD, Diplomate European College of Animal Welfare, Autonomous Univer-
sity of Barcelona (2021)
Letizia Marsili, PhD, Università di Siena (2021)
José Matos, PhD, National Institute for Agrarian and Veterinary Research (2021)
James McBain, DVM, (retired) SeaWorld USA (2021)
Katherine McHugh, PhD, Chicago Zoological Society (2016)
Eduardo Mercado III, PhD, University at Buffalo, SUNY (2016)
Lance Miller, PhD, Chicago Zoological Society / Brookfield Zoo (2016)
Lee A. Miller, Associate Professor (Emeritus), University of Southern Denmark (2021)
Tania Monreal Pawlowsky, Lic. Vet., MRCVS, International Zoo Veterinary Group (2021)
Jason Mulsow, PhD, National Marine Mammal Foundation (2021)
Paul Nachtigall, PhD, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii (2016)
Gen Nakamura, PhD, Tokyo University of Marine Sciences and Technology (2021)
Shawn R. Noren, PhD, Institute of Marine Science, University of California, Santa Cruz (2016)
Steven Pinker, PhD, Harvard University (2016)
Diana Reiss, PhD, Hunter College (2021)
Michael S. Renner, DVM, Marine Mammal Veterinary Consulting Practice (2016)
Jill Richardson, PhD, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (2016)
Sam Ridgway, DVM, PhD, National Marine Mammal Foundation (2021)
Tracy Romano, PhD, Vice President of Research, Mystic Aquarium (2021)
Fernando Rosa, PhD, Universidad de La Laguna (2016)
Consuelo Rubio Guerri, DVM, PhD, Universidad Cardenal Herrera CEU (2021)
James A. Russell, PhD, Boston College (2016)
Guillermo J. Sánchez Contreras, DVM, MSc, Marineland Limited – Mediterraneo Marine Park, Malta
Todd Schmitt, DVM, SeaWorld of California (2021)
Yuske Sekiguchi, PhD, Chiba University of Commerce, Japan (2021)
Steve Shippee, PhD, Marine Wildlife Response (2016)
K. Alex Shorter, PhD, University of Michigan (2016)
Ursula Siebert, PhD, Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research (ITAW), University of Veteri-
nary Medicine Hannover, Foundation (2021)
Mark S. Sklansky, MD, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (2016)
Christian Sonne, DVM, PhD,, Dipl. ECZM-EBVS (Wildlife Health), Aarhus University (2021)
Mario Soriano Navarro, BD, Centro de Investigación Príncipe Felipe (2021)
Brandon Southall, PhD, University of California, Santa Cruz (2016)
Judy St. Leger, DVM, DACVP, SeaWorld (2016)
Grey Stafford, PhD, Aquatic Mammals Editorial Board (2016)
Jeffrey L. Stott, PhD, University of California, Davis (2016)
Francys Subiaul, PhD, The George Washington University (2016)
Miwa Suzuki, PhD, Nihon University (2021)
Oriol Talló Parra, DVM, MSc, PhD, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (2021)
Alex Taylor, PhD, University of Auckland (2016)
Roger K. R. Thompson, PhD, Franklin & Marshall College (2016)
Laura Thompson, PhD, Mystic Aquarium (2021)
Walter R. Threlfall, DVM, PhD, DACT, The Ohio State University (2016)
Michael Tift, PhD, University of North Carolina Wilmington (2021)
Dietmar Todt, PhD, Free University of Berlin (2016)
Michael Tomasello, PhD, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (2016)
Sara Torres Ortiz, MSc Biology, PhD student, Max Planck Institute (2021)
Jakob Tougaard, PhD, Aarhus University (2021)
Forrest Townsend Jr, DVM, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park (2016)
Marie Trone, PhD, Valencia College (2016)
Pam Tuomi, DVM, Veterinarian Emeritus, Alaska SeaLife Center (2021)
Mark Turner, PhD, Dolphin Communication Analytics (2021)
Allison D. Tuttle, DVM, Diplomate ACZM, Mystic Aquarium/Sea Research Foundation, Inc. (2021)
Peter Tyack, PhD, University of St Andrews (2021)
Yulán Úbeda, PhD, University of Girona (2021)
Ebru Unal, MSc, PhD, Mystic Aquarium (2021)
Basilio Valladares Hernández, PhD, Universidad de La Laguna (2016)
William Van Bonn, DVM, A. Watson Armour III Center for Animal Health and Welfare, John G. Shedd
Aquarium (2021)
Lorenzo von Fersen, PhD, Zoo Nuremberg & YAQU PACHA e.V. (2021)
Jennifer Vonk, PhD, Oakland University (2016)
Magnus Wahlberg, PhD, University of Southern Denmark (2021)
Samantha Ward, PhD, Nottingham Trent University (2021)
David A. Washburn, PhD, Georgia State University (2016)
Rebecca Wells, DVM, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park (2016)
Randall Wells, PhD, Chicago Zoological Society (2016)
Thomas Welsh, MRes, University Centre Askham Bryan (2021)
Nathan P. Wiederhold, Pharm.D, FCCP, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (2016)
Daniel Wilkes, PhD, Centre for Marine Science and Technology, Curtin University (2016)
Terrie Williams, University of California Santa Cruz (2021)
Clive D. L. Wynne, PhD, Arizona State University (2016)
Pamela K. Yochem, DVM, PhD, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (2016)
Annalisa Zaccaroni, PhD, European Registered Toxicologist, University of Bologna (2021)
José Fco. Zamorano Abramson, PhD, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (2016)

Loro Parque Fundación to devote almost 1.3 million to conservation in 2021

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At the annual meeting of the advisory committee of the Loro Parque Fundación held in Puerto de la Cruz, it was decided to dedicate almost 1.3 million dollars to 53 nature conservation projects to be carried out over the next year on the five continents. With this commitment, the total amount that Loro Parque Fundación has dedicated to nature conservation will amount to 22.8 million dollars.

This year, the projects in Europe, especially in the Canary Islands and the rest of Macaronesia (Cape Verde, Madeira and the Azores) are the main focus, they will receive almost half of the funding (more than 585,000 dollars). Next are the projects focusing on the threatened species and ecosystems of the Americas, they will receive 34% of the funding this year (more than 440,000 dollars). Also, noteworthy this year is funding for nature conservation in Africa, which amounts to almost $170,000. Asia, with almost $60,000, and Australia and Oceania, with $33,000, will receive the remaining part of the funding, which will be distributed among the five continents and among 53 conservation and research projects to be implemented by 32 NGOs and universities around the world.

By country, Spain stands out with $527,000, followed by Brazil with over $130,000 and Ecuador with $93,000. But the list of countries is much longer, and this year the Foundation will also carry out projects in Australia, Belize, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cuba, Ethiopia, Germany, Guatemala, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, French Polynesia, Senegal, Thailand, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Some of these projects are transnational, so their benefits will reach the ecosystems and threatened species of many other neighbouring countries.

From an ecological point of view, terrestrial species and ecosystems are the ones that will receive most of the aid from the Loro Parque Foundation (over $827,000), including the protection of one of the best-preserved lion populations in all of Africa in the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, which will receive $53,000. Another very prominent species is the Philippine cockatoo (critically endangered on the IUCN red list). The project will receive more than $39,000 to continue securing the populations

on Rasa Island and try to extend the reproductive success achieved in that area to other places in the region. Other notable species and terrestrial ecosystem projects are aimed at protecting the blue-throated macaw in Bolivia, the yellow eared parrot in Colombia and Ecuador, or the hyacinth macaw in Brazil or Bolivia.

But we must not forget the effort in the conservation of marine species and ecosystems, to which the Loro Parque Fundación will dedicate more than $460,000 next year. Of these, more than two thirds will be dedicated to the CanBIO project, co-financed by the Canary Islands Government, which began in 2019 and which in a few weeks will complete its network for controlling climate change at sea, with the installation of a scientific buoy in El Hierro. From 2021, autonomous marine vehicles will be deployed to carry out measures throughout the archipelago, and in 2022 they will be extended to the whole of Macaronesia. CanBIO’s actions also include the conservation of critically endangered species, such as the angel shark and the butterfly ray.

The remaining funding for marine projects will be devoted to the conservation of several cetacean species, including the Atlantic humpback dolphin in the Saloum delta (Senegal). IUCN experts consider this species to be critically endangered, and it could disappear in a few years if urgent action is not taken to protect it.

Loro Parque bids farewell to 2020 by celebrating its 48th anniversary

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Almost on the eve of Christmas and about to close a turbulent 2020, Loro Parque is celebrating its 48th anniversary today, Thursday 17 December, in a year in which, despite the serious global crisis caused by the COVID-19, it has continued to strengthen its love and commitment to nature and animals.

Thus, after closing on 15 March, the Park has witnessed numerous births, as is customary in its facilities, and has obtained important results in its research and conservation projects, which have not been halted despite the circumstances.

Loro Parque started in 1972 with only 25 people, 150 parrots and an area of 13,000 square meters. Since then, and after a history of many challenges, the Park has become one of the most respected zoological institutions in the world, both for its beauty, the excellence of its facilities and the absolute respect for nature.

A historic closing of the doors

In all its history, since it first opened on a rainy December 17th 48 years ago, Loro Parque had never closed its doors and operated 365 days a year. On 15th March 2020, after an unprecedented global crisis, it had to close down. What were expected to be 15 days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, without a clear date of reopening.

From #AtHomeWithLoroParque to Loro Parque LIVE

Faced with this unprecedented situation, Loro Parque started a campaign on its social networks with the hashtag #AtHomeWithLoroParque, through which it was sharing daily content about the activity taking place behind closed doors at its facilities. There, the animals have continued to receive all the care to ensure their maximum well-being and the staff have continued to work with all the prevention measures recommended by the authorities to keep them in good health.

Thus, the official accounts of the Park increased its programming so that, from home, all its followers could continue to learn about the important work that this wildlife conservation centre does in the areas of animal welfare, protection of endangered species, education and creating awareness.

In the last few weeks, a new initiative has delighted its fans: Loro Parque LIVE, live videos in which Rafael Zamora, scientific director of Loro Parque Fundación, tours the facilities and discovers curiosities and interesting data about life in the Park. This innovative format is being very well received and is expected to continue, seasonally, in 2021.

Exclusive Day Tour, an unprecedented guided tour of the Park

This year, Loro Parque has launched the Exclusive Day Tour, an initiative with which you can get to know the Park behind closed doors in small groups accompanied by a guide, as well as enjoy a delicious lunch at Brunelli’s Steakhouse restaurant. This option is still available from Thursday to Monday from 10:00 to 17:15.

Loro Parque, an authentic Animal Embassy

Loro Parque closes another year in which it has continued to consolidate its position as a true animal embassy, in which the specimens that live in its installations act as representatives of their fellow creatures in nature, most of them under some degree of threat according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their followers thus have first-hand knowledge of these animals and are aware of the dangers they face in the wild, which results in greater protection for wild populations.

A history of successes

Throughout its 48 years of history, the Loro Parque Company has won numerous awards, including the Plaque and Gold Medal for Tourism Merit awarded by the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism; the Gold Medal of the Canary Islands Government; the Gold Medal of the city of Puerto de la Cruz and the Gold Medal of the Tenerife Island Council, among others. Loro Parque is also the only company in the Canary Islands to have won the Prince of Asturias Award for Business Excellence and has been voted the best zoo in the world by TripAdvisor users in 2017 and 2018.

Energy Self-Sufficiency

Also, in 2020, Loro Parque has become the first zoological institution in the world to be self-sufficient in green energy. Thanks to a photovoltaic plant located in Arico, which generates 4.75 MW of energy; to the solar panels installed on the roof of the large Poema del Mar aquarium, with 160 KW,

and to a large wind turbine of 4 MW recently inaugurated in Gran Canaria, the Park generates more energy than it consumes.

Loro Parque Fundación maintains its wildlife conservation commitment

The Loro Parque Fundación wanted to maintain its support for the conservation projects with which it collaborates around the world. The non-profit organisation, created by Loro Parque in 1994, has allocated 22.8 million dollars to more than 200 conservation projects in the five continents and has contributed to saving 10 species of parrots from extinction.

This work is now more important than ever, in a world where animals are facing serious threats and dangers in the wild, now compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, and need the support and work of animal embassies like Loro Parque.

Joint EAAM Coalition letter to French Minister of Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili

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Dear Madame Minister,

The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), the European Association for Aquatic Mammals (EAAM), the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), the Association of Zoos Aquariums (AZA), and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA) represent some of the world’s best zoological institutions and are active in conservation, research and education both locally and globally.

We write to urge you to re‐consider the decision announced on 29 September 2020 to ban the breeding of cetaceans in French zoos and aquariums. If implemented, the consequences for in situ and ex situ conservation of cetaceans in France and by French conservationists globally could be negatively impacted, and the welfare of animals compromised.

Under the Convention on Biological Diversity, all Contracting Parties, including France, are obligated to adopt measures for ex situ conservation as a complement to in situ measures (i). The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defines ex situ conservation as that where animals are maintained in artificial conditions under different selection pressures than those in natural conditions in a natural habitat (ii). Ex situ conservation is a key element of wider holistic approaches to conservation and is at the core of most activities undertaken by professional zoos and aquariums.

Zoos and aquariums are recognised as leaders in ex situ conservation by bodies including the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (iii) the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (iv), the IUCN2, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (v), the European Union (vi) and many other leading agencies and institutions dedicated to the preservation of biodiversity.

Specialist knowledge about ex situ management of cetaceans, typified by the expertise in zoos and aquariums, is essential to secure the future of endangered dolphin and porpoise species. Indeed, a recent IUCN report points to the urgent need for early intervention from ex situ conservationists to save species (vii). It notes that a lack of such involvement at key moments has directly led to the extinction of the Yangtse river dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) and the likely extinction of the vaquita (Phocoena sinus). We therefore believe that removing any ex situ conservation capacity for these species, as for others, would be a serious mistake. This capacity necessarily includes the breeding of cetaceans, an essential part of any nurturing animal’s life experience.

By phasing out cetaceans from French institutions through a breeding ban, the French government makes it impossible for the country to be involved in such conservation efforts to save the dolphin species that are most endangered today or those that may be tomorrow. While there is currently no immediate extinction threat for bottlenose dolphins, other species have seen unexpected and very large wild population decreases over very short periods (for example, the roughly 60% decline in giraffe populations over the last two decades).

The population of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in the European region is managed by EAZA as an EEP (EAZA Ex situ Programme). The Bottlenose dolphin EEP is among the most successful programmes of its kind and has led to a long‐term, demographically and genetically self‐sustaining population in Europe. While the programme is performing very well, losing the 29 dolphins in the care of French institutions from the breeding pool (11% of the EEP population) would make the overall situation precarious. Our Associations strongly oppose the elimination of populations through breeding bans, because it often compromises the welfare of animals left alone as their social group gradually dies out.

Our networks are not large enough to accommodate these animals, and our Associations would vigorously oppose any attempt to move animals to institutions with a lower standard of welfare.

Furthermore, no animal currently in the care of French institutions is releasable into the ocean and there is no mandate or ground for such action, and such a release would pose serious risks for individual animals and wild cetacean populations. If the announced decision is implemented, we believe that the lifetime options for these animals would be severely restricted and contrary to the French public’s view on the need to ensure the positive welfare of the animals concerned.

The appeal of cetaceans, as evidenced by visitor numbers, creates significant opportunities for zoological institutions to educate the public about biodiversity conservation and to motivate more conservation‐minded behaviour.

While these charismatic species are highly popular, there’s no sound basis to regulate holding and breeding of cetaceans differently from other species. As the European Commission has repeatedly confirmed, cetaceans are not excluded from and are subject to the same requirements as any other species under the Zoos Directive (viii).

Cetacean conservation, like all nature conservation, is at a critical phase, and we urge the government to allow French zoos and aquariums to continue to play their part. If we can provide you with further information regarding cetacean conservation, welfare, and research, please do not hesitate to contact us. Like you, we believe that the welfare of cetaceans in human care is a matter of the highest ethical and scientific concern. We would value the opportunity to work with you to ensure this outcome.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Thomas Kauffels (EAZA Chair), Dr Renato Lenzi, (EAAM President), Prof Dr Theo Pagel (WAZA President), Dan Ashe (AZA President and CEO) and Kathleen Dezio, (AMMPA President and CEO).

The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) is the membership organisation of the most progressive zoos and aquariums in Europe and Western Asia. The Association comprises over 400 Members in 48 countries, including zoological institutions and their partners in conservation, education, animal welfare and research. EAZA administers the EEP (EAZA Ex situ Programmes), a state‐of‐the‐art population management structure that provides scientifically‐led ex situ support to holistic efforts to save and protect animal species worldwide.

The European Association for Aquatic Mammals (EAAM) was established in 1972. The EAAM’s mission is the welfare and conservation of marine mammals through research, medical care, training, education, conservation, management and related activities. The EAAM’s membership includes veterinarians, biologists, zoo and marine park directors and managers, trainers and caretakers, researchers, students and other persons who devote a significant amount of time to the in situ and ex situ welfare and conservation of marine mammals.

Since 1935, the goal of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) has been to guide, encourage and support the zoos, aquariums and like‐minded organisations of the world in animal care and welfare, environmental education and global conservation. WAZA is the global alliance of regional associations, national federations, zoos and aquariums, dedicated to the care and conservation of animals and their habitats around the world. The membership consists of nearly 400 leading institutions and organisations around the world, and this number continues to grow.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is a 501(c)3 non‐profit organization dedicated to the advancement of accredited zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. AZA represents more than 240 facilities in the United States and overseas, which collectively draw more than 200 million visitors every year. AZA‐accredited zoos and aquariums meet the highest standards in animal care and welfare and provide a fun, safe, and educational family experience. In addition, they dedicate millions of dollars annually to support scientific research, conservation, and education programs.

The Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (Alliance) is an international association and the accrediting body for marine parks, aquariums, zoos and research facilities. Alliance‐accredited institutions are the gold standard in marine mammal care. With an extensive body of marine mammal knowledge and experience, animal experts at Alliance‐accredited facilities dedicate their lives to the well‐being of the animals in their care and to the rescue and rehabilitation of marine animals such as sea lions, dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles in need of help. Our member institutions reach millions of guests each year and create extraordinary experiences and connections to the natural world that inspire people to take action for marine mammals and our oceans.

i Convention on Biological Diversity, Article 9.

ii IUCN Species Survival Commission Guidelines on the Use of Ex Situ Management for Species Conservation.



v Concluding Statement of a conference by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences with international partners from Natural History Museums, Zoological Gardens, Botanical Gardens and Specialists in Biodiversity Protection, 13‐14 May 2019. Casina Pio IV, Vatican City – May 15, 2019.

vi EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030; Press release, “European Commission announces global biodiversity coalition” 3 March 2020; EU Zoos Directive (Council Directive 1999/22/EC of 29 March 1999 on the keeping of wild animals in zoos).

vii https://iucn‐‐conservation‐planning‐for‐cetaceans‐icpc/

viii See e.g., Parliamentary Question reference: E‐000682/2015, Answer given by Mr. Vella on behalf of the Commission 27 February 2015 (“Cetaceans are not excluded from the scope of application of the directive and it is for the Member States to ensure that the measures, set out in Article 3, including in relation to accommodation of the animals, are applied in line with the requirements of the directive.”)

The Canary Islands, ‘black spot’ for cetaceans: between 50 and 60 strandings per year

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The Canary Islands are a black spot for whales and dolphins. Sperm whales, fin whales, pilot whales, common dolphins, striped and spotted dolphins, … species that are naturally stranded on the coast or that collide with boats, come into contact with fisheries and eat plastic. This year, despite the measures taken by the COVID 19 pandemic, animals continue to reach the coasts. On 6 April a fin whale in Corralejo (Fuerteventura), on 12 April a sperm whale in Cofete (Fuerteventura), on 2 May a risso’s dolphin in the north of Majorero, on 25 May a sperm whale in Agüimes (Gran Canaria), on 6 October a sperm whale in Mogán (Gran Canaria) … These are all examples of a problem that requires action.

Antonio Fernández Rodríguez, director of the University Institute of Animal Health and Food Safety (IUSA) of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, explains that they are working along these lines by introducing technology in shipping companies to avoid collisions, in reducing the plastic that reaches the sea and in educating fishermen. These tasks, however, are not the only ones that IUSA is carrying out.

The Institute is composed of five divisions, including Histology and Animal Pathology. The researchers in this section “are fundamentally veterinarians and specialists in Pathology” who “are responsible for determining the cause of death of cetaceans stranded in the Canary Islands”. Once they find a stranded animal, the director points out, “either they transport it to that island or, if it is in Gran Canaria, the dolphin, for example, is brought to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine” which has an autopsy room where it is dissected with the aim of finding lesions that indicate what caused its death.

And exactly how many cetaceans beach in the Canary Islands each year? Antonio Fernández indicates between 50 and 60, the majority of which are dolphins and also whales. “The most frequent causes are related to natural causes”. Infections, parasitic, viral or bacterial diseases, cancer… Causes that are added to the advanced age of many of the animals and the calves that are the result of an abortion. Human activity is the second cause of stranding and the most frequent is the collision with fast boats. Whales and sperm whales are the two subspecies that the director points out, because the continuity of their species can be undermined, especially for that last mentioned. “If one dies from a collision, whether it is male or female, you have a problem because they need many years to grow and if they die the population can be significantly reduced”. Human action also includes interaction with fishing, “but in the Canary Islands, on the other hand, the number of dolphins killed by interaction with fishing is fairly low. And the reason is that there is no industrial fishing, no fishing by large boats, and only little traditional or local fishing”. Plastic also kills. Pollution by this element causes the death of 2% of cetaceans. “They mistake it for food, they swallow the plastic and that plastic ends up causing an obstruction in their stomach or intestine”. The sentence is clear. “Of every three cetaceans stranded in the Canary Islands, two die of natural causes and one of causes derived from human activity”, said Mr Fernández.

The latest statistics on stranding of cetaceans in the Canary Islands by the autonomous government extend these data. Between 2000 and 2018, the species most affected were the striped and spotted dolphin, with an average of more than seven cases each year, the sperm whale and short-finned pilot whale with more than four, the bottlenose dolphin, the beaked whale and common dolphin with more than three, and the pygmy sperm whale with an average of three. The same report shows a steady increase in stranding, from 27 in 2000 to 68 in 2018.

With some 30 different species like these, the waters of the Canary Islands are full of cetaceans. This figure, says the director, indicates that the proportion of those that strand is not high. There is an alarm because all the animals that come to the coast are detected by the Cetacean Stranding Network. Coordinated since 1997 by the Canary Islands Government, the Network focuses on studying the biological information that stranding provide and on analysing the state of conversation of the populations. Records such as this, points out Antonio Fernández, do not report many mass stranding. “Because, at the end of the day, the animals that appear on beaches are only a very low percentage of those that die”.

For the cetaceans that strand, there is a Rescue Unit that helps them and tries to “introduce them back to the open sea in an attempt to get them to return to their group or family”. Unfortunately, one or two stranded cetaceans every year cannot return to the sea “and they can rarely recover”. In the cases in which they can recover, the animals are taken “to a pool that is well prepared for a recovery issue or to a park” where they remain between 24 and 72 hours for a medical evaluation. “The usual procedure is to try to evaluate what the problem is and to treat it, and in many cases, to take the animal back to the sea to release it, but if the problem is serious, it is euthanized”.

So, what happens to the cetaceans that do not reach the coast? It is said that they can represent between 93 and 95% of the dead animals. The causes of their deaths are the same as those of those that strand on the Canary Islands’ coasts: natural causes and causes derived from human action. As the open sea is the setting, natural causes include another factor. The interactions between species. Antonio Fernández points out that, apart from the food that dolphins provide for sharks and killer whales, cetaceans “sometimes compete for the same territory in which they find food. Or they hit each other”.

Stranding, although an unfortunate circumstance, helps to study the state of the marine ecosystem in the archipelago. “I believe that in our ecosystem cetaceans are bio-indicators” and so “if an animal is stranded and has died from plastic, what does that mean? Well, that we have a problem with plastic contamination. If an animal appears with other contaminants, for example, chemical contaminants, we have to take into account this kind of problem,” argues the director.

The solutions to stranding are diverse. From working “so that ship companies can introduce technology that avoids collisions” and “can manoeuvre before they collide”, to reducing the plastic that reaches the sea and to the educational processes with fishermen. “They are gradually interacting less with the dolphins in the sense that they are not harming the animals”. All are IUSA projects that help to mitigate the effect of various causes on cetaceans, but whose problem “is not going to be solved overnight”. For this reason, the director of the Institute urges that administrations “continue to maintain the levels of what we call health surveillance. Always monitor what is causing the death of cetaceans”. There are three key principles here. “Diagnose the cause, treat the problem and prevent the problem”.

A lifesaver for a “rather chaotic” situation

Loro Parque Fundación has also been involved in the search for solutions. Together with the IUSA, the foundation directed by Javier Almunia is working on the development of a pontoon, “a floating system that looks very much like a inflatable boat”. With two side balloons and a central tarp, “the system is designed to help in the refloating of cetaceans, to bring them back into the water and to be able to put them in deep water so that they can swim out”.

This initiative is part of the MARCET II project, which focuses on “technology transfer from the academia of universities to society in order to improve the sustainability of marine resources” and especially “on the subject of cetaceans in Macaronesia”, says the director, and was born after the massive stranding in Cape Verde over the last two years. “There we saw the need to have tools and trained personnel to be able to help the animals in a stranding because the situation was really quite chaotic”.

The pontoon is trying to adapt to the circumstances of Macaronesia and is currently in version zero of the prototype, which will be improved with field tests. The Cofete beach, in Fuerteventura, was the scene of a simulation in August “which gave us enough clues about how to improve the systems for holding the tarp, which had some problems, systems for holding the buoys, etc.”, Javier Almunia stressed. These results will be incorporated into the second development. They are also working on a smaller version of the pontoon because the prototype “is for large animals, such as pilot whales, animals that may be four or five metres long and which are heavy”. This one is four metres long and is too big “for small animals such as bottlenose dolphins, animals that can be around two metres long”.

The pontoon station is located on Tenerife, but is available to the whole of Macaronesia and even other regions of Spain. This is the case of Asturias, where it was moved by plane “because they had a pilot whale stranding” at the end of September. Almunia acknowledges that “they have tested it and are taking it as a precaution for a while until they see if there is definitely a risk of stranding” for three animals on the coast of Carreño.

“We hope it can be very useful, especially more so than on the islands in Macaronesia”. Cape Verde and other archipelagos, according to the director, suffer more mass stranding than the Canary Islands, where isolated or sick individuals generally strand.

“The duty to protect them is key and essential”

“We are mainly concerned about the 81 records from 2000 to 2018”. This is the view of Miguel Ángel Pérez, vice councillor for the Fight against Climate Change, regarding the cetaceans that, out of some 938 between these dates, have stranded due to collisions with boats. Armas and Fred Olsen are the two main companies operating on the islands and with whom “the Government has had meetings” regarding this topic. Apart from studying other lines and a possible reduction in the speed of the ships, “Fred Olsen has incorporated a new early warning system to detect cetaceans on the routes where there is the greatest concentration. Mainly in the eastern part of the Canary Islands and the traffic between La Gomera and Tenerife”, he said.

The application of these measures does not mean that the animals that reach the coast are the only ones that die. The vice counsellor points out that “the detection of cetacean stranding not only involves the cetacean that is stranded on land, but also the detection of dead animals that are inaccessible because the tide carries them back to the sea”. These animals are identified and an attempt is made to investigate the reason for their death, which is sometimes complicated because the body is not accessible. Even so, “we also use it as an element of quantification of the number of marine mammals that have died over the last 20 years”.

81 out of 938. This is the number of cetaceans stranded between 2000 and 2018 due to collisions. Although they only represent 8.63%, Pérez argues that “they are animals of which many are in danger of extinction and, therefore, the duty to protect them is key and essential”. The Autonomous Government’s Ministry of Ecological Change, Climate Change Mitigation and Spatial Planning has already asked the central government to revive the plan to create a conservation area in Teno-Rasca. As the vice minister acknowledged, planning for a special protected area has been at a standstill for several years since September 2011, and the attempt to resume it “would bring progress, particularly in terms of regulating the routes and transport lines between the islands. This project reflects the work of this administration, which is responsible for “nature conservation and the important marine mammal sanctuary that we have here”.

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