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.

Loro Parque and Siam Park confirm their leadership after receiving “Biosphere Certified – Parks” and “Biosphere Certified – Animal Embassy” certificates

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Loro Parque and Siam Park once again reinforce their leadership in tourism and environmental sustainability, the fight against climate change and the defence of biodiversity. In the case of Loro Parque this is a certificate that has received, for the twelfth consecutive year, “Biosphere Certified – Animal Embassy”, granted by the Institute of Responsible Tourism (RTI), linked to UNESCO. For its part, Siam Park was not left behind and has been awarded an innovative “Biosphere Certified – Parks” accreditation, for the fourth consecutive year, by the aforementioned international organisation.

The prestigious certification granted after an exhaustive audit guarantees compliance with requirements based on the principles of sustainability and continuous improvement, ensuring that the certified entity carries out an activity that is typical of a new model of non-aggressive tourism, which satisfies the current needs of its clients and users, without compromising future generations, bringing significant benefits for the entity itself, society and the environment.

In this respect, Loro Parque, together with its Foundation and closely followed by Siam Park, constitutes a world-famous natural area committed to the environment and the conservation of biodiversity, while at the same time eliminating single-use plastic from its facilities and supporting beach clean-ups, protection and research programmes at an international level and being a pioneer in natural habitat protection practices.

It should be noted that Loro Parque is the first and only zoo in the world to receive the ‘Biosphere Park-Animal Embassy’ certificate, awarded by the RTI, which is linked to UNESCO, and has also been decorated on several occasions with various national and international distinctions, such as the Plaque of Tourist Merit, awarded by the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism and the “Gold Medal for Tourism Merit”, presented by the same ministry, as well as the Gold Medal of the Canary Islands Government, the city of Puerto de la Cruz and the Cabildo Insular de Tenerife, among other awards. Loro Parque is also the only company in the Canary Islands to have been awarded the “Prince Felipe Award for Business Excellence”, in addition to being named the World’s Best Zoo


twice in a row by the world-renowned travel portal, TripAdvisor, among many other recognitions.

Siam Park: technological development for the environment

Following the philosophy of the Loro Parque Company, Siam Park, recognised by TripAdvisor as the Best Water Park in the World for seven consecutive years and to date, also works in the line of maximum respect for the environment, using the latest technological developments in every detail. In this sense, the water that feeds the Park forms part of a closed circuit that begins in the sea, from where it is extracted and transferred to the desalination plant built exclusively for this purpose. Furthermore, Siam Park’s philosophy includes the application of the Km 0 formula, which means that mainly local products are used in the catering industry, thus minimising the carbon footprint associated with the transport of imported products.

In a firm commitment to non-polluting renewable energies and to contribute to the development of sustainable tourism in the Canary Islands, the Parks have their own photovoltaic system located in the south of Tenerife which, added to other photovoltaic investments on the island, represents a power of 2.75 MW. In addition, a 4 MW wind turbine has been installed on the island of Gran Canaria, increasing the overall capacity to offset CO2 emissions from 2,500 to almost 4,000 tonnes.

On the other hand, this year the Loro Parque Group has once again been certified in ISO 9001, which determines the requirements for a Quality Management System, in ISO 14001, which determines the requirements for an Environmental Management System and in EMAS III, which recognises organisations that have implemented a well-defined Environmental Management System and have made a commitment to continuous improvement.

WAZA Annual Conference 2020 a great success for the modern zoo as well as nature conservation, species protection, environmental protection and animal welfare

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This year’s annual conference of the World Association of Zoos and Aquatic Zoos (WAZA) from 12 to 15 October was a great success for modern zoos as well as for nature, species, environmental and animal protection, although for the first time it could only take place virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For the second time within a few days, the growing social importance of modern zoos was confirmed. Only at the beginning of the month the IUCN, the world’s most important conservation organisation, had highlighted the importance of modern zoos and dolphinariums for the rescue of highly endangered marine mammals in its report “Ex Situ Options for Cetacean Conservation”.

A few days later, participants from major external organisations at the WAZA conference, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), emphasised that modern zoos are becoming increasingly important due to their great expertise and commitment to nature and animal protection, environmental education and research relevant to nature conservation, especially in the time of the climate crisis and the sixth global mass extinction.

Decarbonisation, deforestation and reforestation as well as the “Reverse the Red” initiative supported by WAZA and, last but not least, Loro Parque to reverse the negative trend of species extinction were important topics of this year’s WAZA conference with more than 700 participants from 48 countries and regions.

Loro Parque and Loro Parque Fundación congratulate the WAZA team headed by President Prof. Theo Pagel (Cologne Zoo) and CEO Dr Martín Zordan on hosting this successful conference. And of course, we congratulate Leipzig’s Zoo Director Prof. Jörg Junhold on receiving the Heini Hediger Award as the highest WAZA award of the year!

Loro Parque applauds the IUCN report, which confirms that captive breeding is the hope for the salvation of many cetacean species

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A new report published by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at the beginning of October, highlights the urgent need to define and implement practical, scientifically supported and effective solutions to help cetacean populations that are rapidly declining, mainly as a consequence of by-catch among other factors, all of which are man-made. Amongst these solutions, the enormous importance of cetacean breeding programmes under human care to ensure the preservation of cetacean populations in the wild stands out as being of extraordinary importance.

Loro Parque welcomes these new statements by the leading experts on biodiversity conservation in the international arena and wishes to highlight the enormous contradiction in this respect with the recent initiative in France to ban the keeping of cetaceans in specialised zoological institutions in the country. An initiative that has hung in the air – probably for a few long months – and which has made us at Loro Parque want to celebrate the wisdom of the members of the French parliament.

It seems incomprehensible that, just when the world’s largest conservation organisation, the IUCN, recognises the importance and need for cetacean breeding under human care to save endangered dolphins, countries like France are trying to wipe out dolphinariums. Dolphinariums are where the experts are, where there are appropriate facilities and also the scientific knowledge necessary to be able to keep cetaceans under human care. By wanting to ban them, France has put itself in the uncomfortable position of going against the opinion of the leading experts in biodiversity conservation, and this as one of the most progressive and democratic countries in Europe.

It was already clear that the initiative to ban zoos and dolphinariums was not supported by science in terms of animal welfare, but now it is also shown that it goes against the needs of biodiversity conservation. And all this adds up to the fact that, according to the latest UN reports, more than 1,000,000 species on the planet are possibly in danger of extinction. This populist political decision driven by French anti-zoological pressure lobbies is therefore proving to be more misguided and, unfortunately, more counterproductive than ever.

Furthermore, Loro Parque expresses its full agreement with the conclusions of the report which underlines, among other things, that the extinction in 2006 of the Yangtze River

dolphin in China could have been avoided by establishing corresponding conservation programmes for this species under human care in time. Without these measures and given the threats such as habitat loss, by-catch and collisions with boats – all of which are man-made – the fate of the species was sealed and finally resulted in its complete extinction. Another example, which follows the same pattern and is explicitly mentioned in the IUCN report, is the situation of the Mexican vaquita (Phocoena sinus), a porpoise that occurs exclusively in the upper Gulf of California and will soon become extinct if illegal fishing does not cease, to which the vaquita falls victim indiscriminately when tangled in fishing nets. Several modest attempts by researchers to capture a few individuals with the aim of setting up a breeding programme under human care have not been successful, mainly because of pressure from anti-zoo organizations.

In this sense, Loro Parque fully supports this IUCN report and confirms, once again, that it will continue with its commitment to biodiversity conservation and the protection of natural habitats, thus fulfilling its role as a true Animal Embassy.

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Several young rays were born in the Loro Parque Aquarium

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The Loro Parque Aquarium has recently welcomed three young rays (Hypanus americanus), which is evidence of the welfare of the animals that live in its facilities.

Despite continuing to be closed to the public due to the health crisis caused by COVID-19, activity has continued normally within the port zoo, which has welcomed new individuals of different species during this period.

This ray is viviparous, so after internal fertilization, the embryos develop inside the mothers, who nourish them until they are ready to be born. “Although the Park is closed, nature makes its way and the reproductive cycles continue,” says Ester Alonso, Loro Parque’s fish and invertebrate curator. In addition, the fact that they reproduce means that the animals are comfortable and that their immune system is strong enough.

A curiosity of the Hypanus americanus is that they have a dark dorsal part to blend in with the opacity of the sea and a white belly to dazzle their predators with the sun, a great mimicry strategy if they have to swim.

The offspring evolve favourably in quarantine, where they are removed to avoid interaction with any of the other species with which they live in the exhibition facilities, or even with other larger individuals from the same species. As they are fish, and not mammals, the mothers have no protective instinct and they may even be mistaken for potential prey. Once the Park will be reopened, new family members can be visited at the Humboldt Penguin facility at Planet Penguin.

With this new birth, Loro Parque confirms its commitment to the protection and conservation of animals, demonstrating the success of its breeding system within a philosophy that has turned the zoo into the embassy of exotic animals.

Animal feed manufacturer Versele-Laga and Loro Parque celebrate 18 years of collaboration

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The animal feed manufacturer Versele-Laga has recently renewed its collaboration with Loro Parque Fundación, thus completing 18 years of joint work. During this time, the Foundation has received from the Belgian company food for its parrot reserve – six containers every year – and financial support for its projects.

The two organizations, which began their common journey by sharing a clear vision for nature conservation, are collaborating on researching the feeding of different species of parrots with the aim of improving the quality of their food and contributing to the preservation of their biodiversity.

In this sense, the scientific team of the Tenerife zoo contributes its great experience in the maintenance and care of these birds, as it has the largest reserve of species and subspecies of parrots in the world.

The knowledge obtained, in terms of nutrition, is marketed to the public through Versele-Laga’s Prestige Premium mixtures. This way, all bird lovers can use this product and, at the same time, support the Loro Parque Fundación, an international non-profit organization specialized in the conservation and protection of parrot species that are in danger of extinction.

Their numbers and results speak for themselves: more than 21.5 million US dollars invested in almost 200 projects on five continents, and 10 species of parrots directly saved from imminent extinction.

In 1994, when the Foundation was created, Loro Parque donated its entire parrot collection to the Foundation, committing itself to covering the costs of their maintenance, including food. Thus, although the food is received free of charge from Versele-Laga, the Park maintains its commitment and donates the costs for the food in cash to the Foundation.

About Versele-Laga

Versele-Laga, a family business founded in 1932 and with a strong link to animals, keeps up with the development of the market and follows it closely with new investments, being able to respond better and better to the needs and wishes of pet owners and pets.

Two emperor tamarin twins are born in Loro Parque

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The health crisis caused by the coronavirus has never stopped life in Loro Parque. With the arrival of summer, as it has happened in previous years, the Puerto de la Cruz zoo has witnessed the birth of two emperor tamarin twins.

The parents had offspring for the first time in 2018 and the fact that they are still breeding is an indicator of the well-being of the animals in the Park and how well established this family of Saguinus imperator is.

In this species, it is the male (or another member of the group) who helps carrying the babies until they become independent of the parents, and who gives them to the mother from time to time to suckle. Three pairs of twins have already been born in Loro Parque, the last ones recently, and now they can all be observed living a family life in their facility, with even siblings carrying the newborns.

In this sense, it is important to maintain stable family groups so that the older siblings, during the process of collaboration, learn everything necessary to be successful parents in the future.

The emperor tamarin is native to the forests of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Peru, where it feeds mainly on insects, fruits, flowers, nectar and small animals such as frogs, snails, lizards or spiders. It has characteristic whiskers, claws instead of nails on all fingers except the thumb and two molars 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 minor concern in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, so it is not at risk of extinction. However, the size of their populations is declining and their habitat is shrinking due to residential and commercial development and deforestation, among other threats.

This family is part of an ex situ conservation programme of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA), integrated in the IUCN “One Plan Approach to Conservation” vision. In Loro Parque, they act as representatives of their conspecifics in nature, helping to raise awareness among visitors about the importance of protecting wild animals and their natural habitats. Furthermore, they promote knowledge about the species, its reproduction and breeding, information that is also very valuable for the protection of populations in the wild.

Orca Ula, Growing Strong

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Original source: http://www.cetaceanlifestyle.com/index.php/blog/610

Ula is a young orca that was born at Loro Parque and currently still resides there. Loro Parque is a zoological facility at the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife. Ula’s mother is the orca named Morgan, who was rescued and rehabilitated in 2010 by the Dutch Dolfinarium Harderwijk after she was found weakened and emaciated in the Wadden Sea. Morgan soon became pretty famous and gained media attention, first locally but then also around the world. When it was decided Morgan was not fit for release a struggle ensued. There were two parties: The Dutch dolphinarium and its followers who wanted to rehome the animal to a permanent rehabilitation location with members of her own kind and the animal activists, who thought the Dolfinarium Harderwijk had ill intentions by keeping Morgan in captivity. Currently, Morgan has been living at her new home and permanent rehab location Loro Parque, for almost nine years. The activists never stopped fighting against the fact Morgan was not returned to the wild and still intend to release her. Through the years they have taken Loro Parque to court several times and they always lost the cases. I connected with Morgan back when she was in Harderwijk and have been visiting Morgan through the years to see how she is doing. Of which many visits were also behind the scenes. Even when she turned out to be pregnant and even when her daughter was born. I write articles and observations of what I see every time. Blogs and articles about these visits have been published many times now, both on the internet and in popular media like newspapers and magazines.

How is Ula doing?

Ever since it was announced that Morgan was pregnant the internet exploded into a controversy. Activists say their point is proven now, that Morgan is just used to breed, to make more orcas and make more money. Ignoring the fact that reproducing is a very normal and important aspect in the life of a female orca. Any orca group relies heavily on social bonds and calves are a part of the group-dynamic. Besides there is no measurable increase in income whether there are five, six or eight animals in the habitat. As zoological facilities do not sell animals anymore, but instead exchange them for breeding programs there is also no money to be made on an extra animal by selling. If anything it will actually cost the park more because it is of course one more animal to feed and take care of. Apart from that there were other accusations; shortly after the birth Ula and Morgan had to be separated because Morgan did not produce enough milk. The intervention of the trainers saved Ula’s life! She was already visibly getting thinner. Milk is crucial for a neonate so action had to be taken. In the wild the first birth is often unsuccessful due to a number of factors; the staff was therefore already prepared for complications and could step in fast and in the correct manner. Meanwhile Ula and Morgan have been back together for quite some time now. Animal activists say Ula is not doing well at all and even manipulate photos to prove their point! In one photo they actually adjusted the contrast to such a high level that the normally yellow tank walls turned bright orange and even red.. to make it seem like there was something wrong with Ula’s skin. I take false accusations like this very seriously! Especially since there is nothing going on at all regarding Ula’s health. I have been to Tenerife three times now since her birth. I have made many photos and videos of her and nothing looks like the edited ones found on the internet. Ula is healthy and there are no abnormalities to be seen. a Team of vets  and experts have proven this time and time again, also in Morgan’s case. To me it almost seems like animal activists wánt Ula to be unhealthy or in a bad state just to prove a point, instead of believing and being glad that she is well cared for. This is why I conducted an interview with her caretakers again. I also took a LOT of pictures in every setting, from every angle and all her body parts. These are photos without weird editing tricks so you can see how she actually looks. 

Interview

Earlier I published an interview about Ula when she was born. By now she has of course grown a lot and made a lot of progress and development. I asked the following questions to her direct caretakers: 

How is Ula doing at the moment?

She is doing fine, is growing like a young orca should, growth is correct compared to Adán’s growth. We have the most experience in the world with hand rearing orcas (3 animals including Ula versus 1 animal at SeaWorld) so we know what her weight and growth rate should be.

Can you tell us a bit about her character?

She is very active, playful and very bright. She is a fast learner and social.

Last year Ula had started minor training, mostly medical. How is her training progressing?

Training is going very well. She is a very good student, very focused, a good memory. She is fully medical trained now. She gave her first voluntary blood sample this morning! Her medical training involves full body exams, fecal exams etc. She is now learning to follow her trainers around. As well as learning the gates and basic behavior. Currently we are doing basic slide out training. In this she mimics the other orcas a little bit, but she is also a bright learner on her own. It is kind of like homework to her, we can see her practicing things after the training.

Does she partake in shows and/or presentations?

She is in shows and presentation sometimes. Not every day and in very small segments. She gets excited and energetic in behavior when she gets to do this. Some people criticize us for having her in a show, but animals don’t differentiate normal training sessions and shows. To them it is all positive reinforcement. Refusing to do shows with the animals for political reasoning could cause stress/ harm as the animal would get frustrated if she cannot participate and others can.

Does Ula already consume bits of fish yet?

She is now on a 100% fish diet. She eats 11kg a day and currently weighs 510 kg. There is not much experience in zoological facilities about transferring diet from milk to fish. In fact we probably have the most experience in this, so it’s learning process.

How is the relationship between Ula and Morgan currently?

It was an Interesting transition. Morgan seems to see Ula as her baby and even tries to protect her a bit. Ula does not seem to think of Morgan as her parent. The trainers took this role in the beginning of her life. They do spend a lot of time together.

There was a time Ula was afraid of going through the gate to enter the show pool. Kohana ‘scooped’ her up, as we call it. Morgan allowed this. So she seems to accept Kohana interacting with Ula, while typically a mother would protect her baby more.

Has Ula met all the other orcas?

Yes she has. She has met all the orcas and they all interact as a group.

How did the introduction go?

In steps. We introduced her to one animal at a time. she interacts really good in the group. When all gates are open this also goes really well.

Does Ula have a preferred orca as company?

Her mother for sure. The two swim together all the time.

What is Ula’s place in the hierarchy currently?

She is currently the lowest in the hierarchy. Adan is low in hierarchy, so he is a bit rough with her. This is his way to try climbing up in the hierarchy. Because Ula is a female she likely will surpass Adan soon and at age 5 she will probably be higher than all the males.

Does Ula respond well to trainers now that she interacts more with the orcas too?

Yes, she still does. The trainers were a very important aspect of her early life. Ula is really excited to interact with anyone and very focused on people.

Ula does not seem to have any hearing impairment like her mother, is this true?

Trainers notice that she reacts to whistles. So far there is no reason to believe she has a hearing impairment. She is interacting with other orcas without problem so that gives hints as well that there is no problem.

Is Ula’s father known yet?

Keto was expected by trainers to be the father for a long time, but now it is confirmed by DNA tests as well.

Is there still any scientific research done with Ula?  

We did start research on how echo location is first initiated. There are sensors in the pool for that. Other than that we did not have any requests so we haven’t started more research. However, we also documented her entire growth process. This is also valuable research as we now know how to treat very young orcas. For example when there is a stranding or a rejected calf in a zoo. We consider this very important as well.

Are there any abnormalities with Ula, her health or her growth whatsoever?

As stated before, everything is normal

What does the (near) future hold for Ula?  

We are aiming on measuring her weight. We are teaching her to jump on the scale. This is of course very important. What we find most important is that she can live amongst the group, be part of the family and that she has all the mental stimulation and enrichment she needs. For her training we focus on teaching her to understand the signals, visual discrimination in different signs and learning to communicate with the other orcas.

Can you tell us a bit about the expansion of the orca habitat? 

We are still in the planning phase. We are still deciding how it should look, which dimensions and what kind of pools. We would like to add a pool for research and also a lot of enrichment. Both mental and physical stimulation is important for us. We are looking for all the newest enrichment methods around the world for this.  We also need to get the permits and other paperwork done. We expect this to take at least another year before construction can start. Our main goal is to improve the life of the whales. Note of the author: the initiation was planned before COVID19. The interview was conducted in March, right before COVID19 struck. The consequent closure of Loro Parque starting in March might affect these original plans.

Observation

I was lucky to join the Orca-Ocean team and Ula over the course of multiple days. I could observe and document Ula in every area of the habitat. I also witnessed some of her training sessions. To take pictures and footage for videos. This is my observation of that period: Ula is very active and energetic. This has been the case ever since I first saw her, shortly after birth. She swims very active with a high pace and surfaces very high and powerfully. She is very curious and always comes to look or gives a glance when you are near the barriers of the habitat. Ula loves enrichment such as toys and there is a whole array that is offered to her. There are also many sessions with her to keep her active and enriched. She is so big already! Especially the last months she grew so rapidly. She really isn’t a baby anymore. Her yellow skin also begins to fade already and bottle feeding is a thing of the past. a Remnant of her bottle feeding session can be seen when Ula encounters her trainers and caretakers. She curls up her tongue, like she would around the bottle and makes a short series of sucking noises. It is a kind of greeting to the trainers and very endearing to watch! Even though she eats fish now, she knows the connection between the trainers and the bottle. They have been there for her in the earliest stage of her life. This special little ‘greeting’ of her own gives her a lot of character. 

Ula’s  skin looks very good. Even her pectoral fin, where she had a minor infection when she was very young looks normal. She has an increased number of scratches and rakemarks since last time. This is the result of meeting and communicating with the other orcas. Adán plays the biggest part in this. He is pretty rough with Ula in an attempt to climb higher in the social hierarchy. Ula does get protection from her mother and even Kohana in this. I was also around the habitat when the animals had their “free-time” session. This is when they can swim freely through the tanks and decide where to swim and with which other animals they want to spend their time. Toys are also offered during this, so they have the option of playing with enrichment. Ula was mostly in the showpool and tried to climb onto the stage several times. This was pretty funny to witness as she can’t quite get there fully yet. She also liked playing through the glass. She used some of the enrichment, but her focus did not stay very long on one and the same toy. Often you would see her swim very actively and surfacing wit her head high out of the water. I saw Ula interacting with all the animals. She was almost always together with Morgan, unless the two had to be separated shortly for certain training sessions. It warms my heart to see that the two have such a strong bond. Ula is also very playful and even tries to coax the other orcas into play-behavior.  During training sessions she is very alert and has big, focused eyes on her trainers. She learned so much already! Apart from food rewards she loves to be touched. This was her primary reinforcement before she even began to eat fish. When the trainers have one of the “cuddle-sessions” she noticeably enjoys all the touching and attention. 

Conclusion

I witnessed Ula growing up during her young life. What I see is a young, strong and active young orca that is well cared for. Every day there is a whole team dedicated to keeping her and her podmates happy, enriched and healthy. I keep finding it absurd that the keeping of orcas at Loro Parque (and in general) has been criticized to such an extent. In my opinion orcas and other dolphins probably have the best and most advanced care of all animals in captivity. The keeping of these animals is so advanced and specialized. There is so much focus on enrichment, training, nutrition, health etc. When animal activists claim that the orcas are not doing well or are even abused I wonder how many of the people that claim this actually went to the park to take a look? (Or even ever saw an orca up close at all?) Did they educate themselves on the behavior of these animals and how zoological facilities take care of them? Whenever I am in Tenerife I also go to the park as a normal visitor for a random multiple days. My observations and findings are not different then compared to the times when I am behind the scenes. It almost seems, like I mentioned in my introduction as if people wánt the animals to be in a bad state. Simply to make a point or to ‘win’ the discussion. I hope that I can show you with my many blogs, articles and photos that there are always two sides to a story. Here are photos of Ula in every possible set ting of the Orca-Ocean, every lighting, evnuery angle and all her bodyparts, so you can judge yourself if she looks healthy.

10th anniversary of the rescue of the orca Morgan

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Today, Wednesday 24th June, Loro Parque commemorates the 10th anniversary of the rescue of the orca Morgan. Taking advantage of this occasion, the Park has uploaded an emotional documentary to its social networks in which it tells its story of overcoming and survival, as well as a report in which the protagonists of the rescue tell their experience. In addition, it wanted to draw attention to the serious consequences that underwater noise has on the lives of cetaceans, this being a possible cause of the deafness that Morgan suffers.

Although this cannot be known for sure, an increasing number of cetaceans appear to be stranded with hearing problems. And scientists have shown that noise caused by human activities at sea is disturbing underwater soundscapes, animals and marine ecosystems.

For this reason, Loro Parque assures that it is time to take action to protect the animals from the negative effects of noise, something that Loro Parque Fundación is already working on through different projects. One of these projects is the demand to extend the moratorium on medium frequency military sonar in the Canary Islands to the whole of Macaronesia, in an initiative that has the unanimous support of the Government of the Canary Islands and the MEPs from the European Outermost Regions.

Also noteworthy is CanBIO, a project co-financed by Loro Parque and the Government of the Canary Islands with 2,000,000 euros to study the effects of climate change on the sea in the Canary Islands and Macaronesia. Thanks to this project, two permanent underwater monitoring stations for acoustic quality in the archipelago analyze the evolution of noise over time and monitor the underwater soundscapes of the Canary Islands. One station is already in operation in the Bay of Gando, in Gran Canaria, and another one will be operational by the end of the year in El Hierro.

Morgan: a survival story with a happy ending

It was on 24 June 2010, now 10 years ago, that this killer whale appeared on the coast of the Netherlands. It was just a baby and found itself alone, dehydrated and malnourished, almost on the verge of death. Thanks to her rescue and the efforts of many people to ensure that she did not die, she was able to recover completely in a few months at the Harderwijk Dolphinarium in the Netherlands.

However, her family could not be found, so she could not be returned to the sea and there were only two alternatives: euthanasia or integration into a group of killer whales under human care. The Dutch authorities, after studying her case, decided that the best place for her was Loro Parque and the Zoo of Puerto de la Cruz accepted their request for help.

Soon after, her caretakers detected that Morgan was not responding to acoustic signals and a group of experts found that she was deaf, which would prevent her from hunting, orienting herself and communicating underwater. However, in order to interact with her, the trainers at Orca Ocean in Loro Parque devised and developed a light-based communication system that is unique in the world.

As a result, Morgan was able to integrate more easily and has managed to establish such positive social bonds within the group that, in September 2018, she gave birth to her first baby, Ula, who is the youngest and growing up healthy and strong. Today, both live in perfect harmony with each other.

The animals of Loro Parque welcome the summer

Animals_en, Loro Parque EN Sin comentarios »

Loro Parque, although still closed due to the health crisis caused by the COVID-19, is still very active in social networks, sharing daily content about everything that happens in its facilities. This week, on the occasion of the change of season and the arrival of summer, the zoo of Puerto de la Cruz is welcoming the good weather classy with impressive images of the animals enjoying refreshing baths, fruit ice cream and the best climate in the world.

Thus, otters, chimpanzees, hippos, jaguars and tigers, among others, have been the protagonists of the content on social networks of this authentic animal embassy in recent days, anticipating the arrival of summer, which begins tomorrow, on Saturday the 20th of June.

In its publications, Loro Parque takes the opportunity to explain to its followers different curiosities about the animals, such as the dependence of the pygmy hippopotamus on water or the importance of environmental enrichment to ensure the well-being of the animals, to encourage their natural behavior and to keep them physically and psychologically active.

During this period, while publishing all its activity, the Park prepares to reopen its doors whenever possible, renewing its facilities and implementing all the necessary measures to guarantee the safety of its visitors in the face of the “new normality”.

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