Clearing The Water On Marine Mammal Sanctuaries


By Marilee Menard

In 2016, the National Aquarium in Baltimore (NAIB) announced plans to build a “sanctuary” for its dolphins by 2020.  NAIB has yet to select a location.  It has reportedly rejected over 50 sites because the animals’ safety could be jeopardized by storms and/or algae blooms.  Infectious disease is another issue; marine mammals in human care are protected from illnesses to which they could be exposed in the wild.

The Sea Life Trust announced in 2018 that it would create the world’s first “sanctuary” for two beluga whales in partnership with Whale and Dolphin Conservation.  The animals were recently transported to the new facility in Iceland from Changfeng Ocean World in Shanghai, China.  The Trust was founded by Merlin Entertainments’ Sea Life Centres, a chain of attractions that includes Ocean World, and a donation from Merlin.

Calling these facilities “sanctuaries” is a misnomer. 

Collision Course For The Virgin Holidays Sea


Source: Behind the thrills | By Dr. Grey Stafford

In 2014, prominent members of the zoological community led by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums(AMMPA) and others began a lengthy educational and relationship-building campaign with leaders from Sir Richard Branson’s company, Virgin Holidays, in the wake of its rollout of a pledge asking suppliers not to take cetaceans from the wild.Several AMMPA members elected to sign the pledge at that time– not surprising considering the great success of managed breeding programs over the past several decades, which has resulted in about 75% (and rising) of the dolphins currently living in North American facilities having been born in human care. In other words, zoos and aquariums in the U.S. don’t need to collect cetaceans from the wild and haven’t for decades.



The following media statement can be attributed to Paul Boyle, Ph.D., National Director, American Humane Certified™:

“Virgin Holidays’ decision to no longer sell tickets to facilities with dolphins, whales, and porpoises is misguided and wrong. Marine mammals can live humanely in human care when following established animal welfare measures that help ensure proper treatment.”“American Humane, the country’s first, national humane group and the world’s largest certifier of animal welfare and well-being, conducted independent reviews of SeaWorld and Discovery Cove, both of which passed our rigorous certification assessment audits. Virgin is wrong on this issue and apparently made its decision absent any science or real expertise. Virgin’s ethically driven customers should be disappointed that the company’s decision will negatively impact conservation efforts and hinder efforts to educate and inspire thousands of children about the importance of marine mammal protection, environmentalism and conservation.”



Virgin Holidays’ Pandering to Animal Rights Extremists is Unfortunate; Missed Opportunity to Support Work that Is Helping Animals in the Wild

It’s sad and unfortunate to see Virgin Holidays use its brand and resources to attack world-class, accredited aquariums and marine parks and undermine their work to educate people about marine mammals, study them, and conserve them in the wild. The company could have made a real difference for whale and dolphin conservation by supporting that work and spearheading new efforts to help imperiled animals in the wild but instead chose to try to appease animal rights extremists by severing its long-standing partnerships with zoological facilities that display cetaceans and supporting the creation of ill-conceived, activist-run “sea sanctuaries.”



Silver Spring, MD –Virgin Holidays, a United Kingdom-based travel company, today announced a policy to stop selling tickets to attractions that care for dolphins and whales. Two facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) – SeaWorld and Dolphin Discovery – have been told by Virgin Holidays they will no longer do business with them. In Virgin Holidays announcement, they specifically named SeaWorld and Discovery Cove. SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment and Dolphin Discovery have seven facilities accredited by AZA between them.

In response to Virgin Holidays’ announcement, Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA, issued the following statement:



Le 6 mai 2019 était divulgué un chiffre choc : un million d’espèces animales et végétales – soit une sur huit – risquent à brève échéance de disparaître du fond des océans et de la surface de la Terre.

Aquariums et Zoo aident à la préservation des espèces

Face à ce triste constat, les aquariums et les zoos jouent désormais un rôle central et prennent une part active dans la conservation des espèces en danger allant jusqu’à représenter, pour nombre d’entre elles, le seul espoir.

C’est le cas du petit poisson Cyprinodon alvarezi, qui aurait complètement disparu sans l’aide des zoos, notamment ceux de Bristol et Londres. Cette espèce endémique du Mexique est en effet aujourd’hui totalement éteinte à l’état naturel.

Un stock génétique 

Si par le passé la reproduction d’animaux n’avait pour but que la présentation des bébés au public, aujourd’hui la multiplication des naissances permettrait la constitution d’un « réservoir » d’animaux suffisant pour assurer leur avenir.

En France, plus de 750 naissances d’animaux ont par exemple été enregistrées au ZooParc de Beauval en 2017, parmi lesquelles des espèces rares comme le panda géant ou le lamantin. Mais le zoo est aussi à l’initiative de la première banque de semences mondiale d’éléphants sauvages.

Aux États-Unis, le Parc animalier de San Diego a lancé un programme d’élevage de panthères de l’amour, une espèce très menacée puisqu’il ne reste que 80 spécimens à l’état sauvage et seulement 220 à travers les programmes mondiaux de conservation. Ce zoo américain abrite également la plus grande collection de cellules animales du monde.

Grâce à de nombreux programmes de ce genre, plus de 400 zoos à travers le monde constituent une sorte de stock génétique qui pourrait, dans le futur, servir à des réintroductions d’animaux disparus dans la nature.

La conservation des espèces, au même titre que la recherche et la sensibilisation, est désormais devenue une des missions de ces parcs zoologiques qui tous ensemble forment une grande arche de Noé des temps modernes.

Lost polar bear taken to Siberian zoo to be treated


A famished polar bear picked up last week after it wandered lost into a northern Russian city hundreds of kilometres from its Arctic habitat has been taken to a zoo in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk for treatment.

The two-year-old female polar bear had appeared, starving and exhausted, in the northern nickel-producing city of Norilsk last Sunday.

It became ill and almost died after scavenging for food in a rubbish heap and urgently needed treatment, oil company Rosneft, which works in the region, said in a statement on Friday.

The firm said it had taken part in the operation to transport the bear from Norilsk to Krasnoyarsk.

"The bear is receiving all necessary treatment and healthy food," it said.

Climate change has been damaging polar bears' sea-ice habitats, and forced them to scavenge more for food on land, bringing them into contact with people and inhabited areas.

It was unclear how the animal had ended up in Norilsk but Mr Oleg Krashevsky, a local wildlife expert who saw the polar bear in Norilsk, said it was possible it had simply got lost.

He said the bear's eyes were watery and that evidently it could not see well.

Mr Krashevsky said it was unclear what would be done with the polar bear as it looked too weak to be taken back to its natural habitat.


An all star panel of Zoo Logic alumni discusses current wildlife news stories including why the misguided and unscientific cetacean ban recently passed by Canada's parliament will have a chilling effect on conservation research. Researchers Dr. Kelly Jaakkola and Dr. Jason Bruck join Killing Keiko author and wildlife advocate, Mark Simmons to describe some of the negative implications for wildlife conservation, public education, field research, and policymaking everywhere, not just in Canada.

The panel examines the critical role zoological facilities play in conducting important research and developing technology and methods necessary for species conservation that would simply not be possible to do in the wild. Plus, hear the panel's views on counteracting one-sided and often anti-cap media, the future of those Russian orcas and belugas, and "spy whale."

Why Condemning SeaWorld Is A Really Bad Idea


 By Erin McKinney | Image Credit:

Keyboard warriors and animal activists alike have been jumping on the SeaWorld bandwagon for a while now and attempting to convert ordinary people to support their cause with as little validated, balanced information as possible.

In some cases, this has been successful, especially when said activists conceal their true radical agenda within the guise of “progressive animal welfare.”

However, as we see through the actions of PETA in the case of Maya or the Blackfish crew’s misguided support of sea pens, the agenda drives much deeper then simply “free the orcas.”

You’re actually supporting hate campaigns on a whole lot of other good stuff, without even knowing it.

Here’s what you’re effectively condemning if you’re one of the many misguided souls who thinks “SeaWorld should close:”


The impacts of habitat loss and poaching on Neotropical parrots

Photo by: Jose Luis Tella.

Written by: David Waugh, Loro Parque Fundación


It is a sombre thought that your favourite parrot species has a high chance of being threatened with extinction in the wild. Sadly, 28 per cent of all parrot species are classified as Threatened under IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) criteria, making them one of the most imperilled bird families in the world.

Agriculture, logging, hunting, and trapping for the pet trade markets are all major threats to parrots, with the highest percentage of threatened species – 37 per cent – being found in the Neotropical region. Here, the high numbers of parrots sold in markets of large South American cities is evidence that capture can be to satisfy the domestic demand for pets. Without doubt the poaching of parrots constitutes a major threat, but the relative impacts of domestic consumption versus international trade still require greater clarity.

Study shows zoos and aquariums dramatically increase information needed to help save species



The Species Knowledge Index maps what we know for 32,411 known species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians - in this case, with an eightfold gain after adding data from the Zoological Information Management System curated by 1200 zoos and aquariums worldwide. Credit: Species360 Conservation Science Alliance

Despite volumes of data currently available on mankind, it is surprising how little we know about other species. A paper published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) confirms that critical information, such as fertility and survival rates, is missing from global data for more than 98 percent of known species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

It's a gap with far-reaching implications for conservationists seeking to blunt the impact of the Earth's sixth mass extinction event. Scientists working worldwide on behalf of IUCN Red List, IUCN Species Survival Commission, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES), TRAFFIC, Monitor, and others, require demographic data to assess species populations and intervene where needed.

"It seems inconceivable. Yet scientists tasked with saving species often have to power through with best-guess assumptions that we hope approximate reality," said lead researcher and Species360 Conservation Science Alliance director Dalia A. Conde.


Source: Kai Zheng, Staff Writer April 12, 2019 Filed under Columns, Opinion. 

One of my earliest memories as a kid was running through the gates of the San Francisco Zoo, right as the doors opened. The drizzling Bay Area weather wasn’t enough to stop me from spending the entire day there, parents willing.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by animals. A perfect ending to a day at the zoo was coming home and binging nature programs like “The Crocodile Hunter,” “Zoboomafoo” or “Walking with Dinosaurs.” 

I often get negative feedback when I tell people I volunteer at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Many people are under the misapprehension that zoos are more in line with a circus— a place where animals are kept for the amusement of the general public instead of living life in their natural habitat.

But that simply isn’t the case.



Orca Morgan, a well-known name that has regularly appeared on the website of VTL Photography. In 2014, 2015, and 2016 we visited Morgan in Loro Parque to see how she was doing. In recent years there has been much commotion around the killer whale, and there still is. In the meantime a lot has changed for Morgan, she has grown a lot bigger and she is the mother of little Ula. Halfway through January, reports came out in which activists claimed that little Ula was possibly seriously ill. So it’s time for a new update!

At the end of February we traveled specifically to Tenerife to visit Loro Parque. After all the reporting about Morgan and Ula we wanted to see how the animals were doing. To know exactly how mother and calf are doing, we had a conversation with Dr. Javier Almunia, director of the Loro Parque Foundation. In this blog we will talk extensively about Morgan and Ula and we will share some details we discussed with Dr. Javier Almunia! For all our international followers we have translated the blog into English.