Loro Parque logotype
Sea lions perform in Loro Parque
|Date opened||17th December, 1972|
|Land area||13.5 ha (33 acres)|
|Number of animals||4,000 (parrots)|
|Number of species||about 350 (parrots)|
Loro Parque (Spanish for "parrot park") is a 13.5-hectare (33-acre) zoo located on the outskirts of Puerto de la Cruz on Tenerife, Spain where it houses an extensive and diverse reserve of animal and plant species. The park was initially conceived as a paradise for parrots and has developed over the years into one of the biggest attractions of the Canary Islands, with over 40 million visitors so far. The park keeps orcas, which has attracted criticism from some organisations.
Since 1972 when it opened at on 1.3 hectares (3.2 acres) with a 150 parrots, it has grown to 13.5 hectares (33 acres) and is home to some 4000 parrots representing 350 species and sub-species, as well as many other animals. This parrot collection is the largest in the world and makes the park one of the main references in the study and conservation of these animals worldwide.
Other records the park has set include Europe's largest dolphin show pool, the world's largest indoor penguin exhibition, the longest shark tunnel in Europe, the largest Thai village outside Thailand, and the park is only the second place in Europe to house orcas.
In February 2006, Loro Parque received four young orcas: two males, Keto (born in 1995) and Tekoa (born in 2000), and two females, Kohana (2002) and Skyla (2004) on loan from SeaWorld. Sea World still maintains ownership of these animals, and has sent its own professionals, including trainers, curators & veterinarians, to supplement the staff at Loro Parque. In 2004 and 2005, before the orcas were brought to Loro Parque, eight animal trainers from the park were sent to Sea World parks in Texas & Florida for training.
On October 13, 2010, Kohana, an eight-year-old female orca, gave birth to a male calf in the park's "Orca Ocean" exhibit after a four-hour labor. The calf weighed in at about 150 kilograms (330 lb), and was two meters (6 ft 7 in) long. Kohana rejected her calf, forcing trainers to take the first steps in hand rearing him. Kohana's calf was named Adan, meaning first man in Spanish. Adan has been introduced to his dad Keto, his uncle Tekoa, his mom Kohana, his aunt Skyla, his friend Morgan and Victoria, his deceased little sister.
In November 2011, Loro Parque received its sixth orca Morgan, who was rescued in the Netherlands on June 23, 2010. After spending a year and a half in a small tank in the Netherlands, under much controversy, Morgan was moved to Loro Parque. Claims were made that Morgan was unable to be released due to the lack of skills she would need to survive in the wild and that she was only approximately 2 or 3 at the time of her rescue. In 2012 scientists confirmed that Morgan suffers a hearing loss that could be very severe and even absolute.
On August 3, 2012, Kohana, then ten years old, gave birth to a female calf named Vicky after a two-hour labor. The calf weighed in at 152 kilograms (335 lb) and measured 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in) long. This calf has also been rejected by her mother, resulting in another hand-reared orca. Vicky died unexpectedly on June 16, 2013. Her cause of death was later revealed to be intestinal problems.
In addition to parrots, dolphins and penguins, some of the other creatures on display in the park are common chimpanzees, western gorillas, marmosets, California sea lions, Oriental small-clawed otter, jaguars, tigers, iguanas, American alligator, giant Galápagos tortoises, flamingos, pelicans, exotic fish, red-bellied piranhas, seahorses, and various sharks. For visitors interested in plants, there is a large orchid garden with very rare plants.
Shows in the park include sea lions (5 times a day), dolphins (4 times), parrots (The Loro Show – 6 times), nature vision (an indoor cinema playing a 20 minute long film – 9 times) and the orca show (3 times). Other attractions include the children's playground "Kinderlandia," Gambian Market, a parrot baby station, a huge parrot museum and many restaurants.
In 1994 Loro Parque founded Loro Parque Fundación, an international foundation member of IUCN set up to highlight the need for conservation of nature and the environment. The foundation has carried out 82 conservation projects in 28 countries throughout the world, of which 31 keep being active with approximately 150 persons working daily for the conservation of nature. Since its creation they have spent more than $10,000,000 in such projects.
The foundation is particularly active in conserving the most endangered parrot species in the world, both with captive breeding (such as with the critically endangered Spix's macaw) and field projects as well (such as with the equally critically endangered indigo-winged parrot).
On October 6, 2007, apprentice trainer Claudia Vollhardt was attacked and nearly drowned by Tekoa. After this attack, the trainers ceased to do waterwork for more than six months, and never again with Tekoa.
In the spring of 2009, Skyla, the youngest orca, was also excluded from waterwork after she pushed trainer Rafa Sanchez around in the pool and up against the walls with her rostrum during a show.
Less than a year later, on Christmas Eve of 2009, 29-year-old Alexis Martinez (trainer) was crushed to death in the jaws of Keto. After spending two and a half minutes at the bottom of the 12-meter deep main pool, his body was retrieved but he was never able to be revived. He went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance on the way to BelleVue Medical Center in Puerto de la Cruz, and was pronounced dead. His funeral was held the next day, on Christmas, and his ashes were spread at Playa El Socorro at sundown. Since then, the trainers do not enter the water with any of the orcas. The park initially characterized the death as an "accident." However, the subsequent autopsy report stated that Alex died due to grave injuries sustained by an orca attack, including multiple compression fractures, tears to vital organs, and the bite marks of the animal on his body. During the investigation into the death of Alex Martinez, it came to light that the park had also mischaracterized to the public the 2007 incident with Tekoa, and claimed it was also an "accident" rather than an attack. It was also revealed that only half of the original trainers are currently employed in Orca Ocean, Loro Parque's facility for the orcas, and none of the subsequent employees hired have been sent to Sea World parks for training. However, they did pass several training courses under the supervision of the other trained members.
Loro Parque has been criticised by a number of organisations, mostly for its use of orcas. The Free Morgan Foundation campaigns for the release of Morgan, an orca held at Loro Parque, saying that she has been "bullied and attacked by the other orca on a regular basis" and that Tekoha, another orca held at the park, "is the most bitten orca in all the orca held in captivity around the world.".
Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) also criticises Loro Parque's handling of Morgan. Specifically, they stated that "the permit under which Morgan was shipped to Loro Parque" states that "she should be used for scientific research" and that in reality, "Morgan makes daily appearances in the shows doing tricks for the paying public".
PETA also denounces Loro Parque, stating that "experts have identified health problems and psychological distress in the orcas at Loro Parque.". These problems include missing teeth, rake marks and mucus dripping from their eyes. They also mention the abnormal behaviour of "[floating] on the surface of the water" which they say is "unheard of among wild orcas.".
- "History". loroparque.com. Loro Parque. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
- "Orca Morgan – four years at Loro Parque". WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation. Retrieved 2016-05-13.
- "Loro Parque Convention In The Canary Islands". 16 May 2006.
- "How it was done". siampark.net. Siam Park. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
- "History". siampark.net. Siam Park. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
- "Loro Parque trainers have no formal qualifications". abc.es. ABC. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
- "Free Morgan Foundation". freemorgan.org. Free Morgan. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
- "Hearing Impairment – Morgan". 13 November 2012.
- "Loro Parque Fudacion". loroparque-fundacion.org. Loro Parque Fudacion. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
- "BirdLife International (2009) Species factsheet: Hapalopsittaca fuertesi". birdlife.org. BirdLife International. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
- Montero, M.A. (4 October 2009). "The Orca Keto attacked and killed Alexis, the trainer of Loro Parque". abc.es. ABC. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
- Anscombe, Janet (31 December 2009). "Loro Parque trainer died from asphyxia caused by compression of the chest in rough play". janetanscombe.com. Janet Anscombe. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
- "Morgan at Loro Parque - Free Morgan Foundation". www.freemorgan.org. Retrieved 2016-05-13.
- "Photos From Loro Parque: This Is What Captivity Does to Orcas | PETA UK". PETA UK. 2015-08-24. Retrieved 2016-05-13.
- "Let Morgan Go Home!". action.peta.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-13.
- Bruce Thomas Boehrer. Parrot Culture: Our 2,500-Year-Long Fascination with the World's Most Talkative Bird. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.
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