As the oldest animal welfare organization in the US, American Humane and its CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert work to improve welfare across the companion, military, farm, entertainment, and zoological animal world. As the SARS-CoV-2 spread continues to affect the lives of animals and people around the globe, American Humane is stepping up to provide online materials and support to organizations and animals in need. Dr. Ganzert discusses how the current pandemic is more evidence of how humans have violated the social contract we have with animals and that we must do better to share humane values and practices around the nation and the world.
Plus last week's guest, University of Minnesota veterinary epidemiologist, Dr. Dominic Travis joins us again to discuss the late breaking news about a tiger at the Bronx zoo that tested positive for COVID-19 and what the implications are for zoo and domestic animals. Rather than a reason to panic, Dr. Travis says this incident highlights the important and longstanding scientific role of modern zoos and aquariums as sentinels for zoonotic disease. He argues that zoological facilities and professionals play an integral part of the broader public health community to curb this pandemic and to monitor, prepare for, and mitigate future ones.
Loro Parque in Tenerife has welcomed a newborn ring-tailed lemur, strengthening its position as an authentic animal embassy.
Although the park remains closed, a new family member was presented in a video shared through its social networks, where news posts are published daily to inform its followers of everything that happens in its facilities.
The name of Loro Parque is becoming more and more known in the world and the foundation seems to have contributed to this on the basis of its work to preserve the environment and parrots in different regions of the planet. Its director, Javier Almunia, received Turismo de Tenerife (TdT) in the facilities of the extensive enclosure of Puerto de la Cruz and revealed some of the keys to success of the entity he manages.
Question: What is the role of the Foundation?
Answer: It was founded in 1994 specifically to deal with all those aspects related to biodiversity conservation, environmental education, research, rescue or animal welfare, which are elements that a modern zoo has to count on to carry out its work strategy.
We started this series discussing the crucial role that megafauna, our world’s largest animals, play in maintaining their ecosystems. They are essential to preserving biodiversity and wildlife for generations to come.
The threats facing their existence – trophy poaching, bushmeat hunting, habitat destruction and an increasingly inhospitable environment – are all the result of human activity. How can humans help if we are the problem?
Indeed, humans have historically caused the decimation of megafauna around the globe, on every continent except for Antarctica. There are so many animals that we will never see in person because our ancestors killed them off.
Our planet’s largest animals, which are often the keystones of their respective ecosystems, are facing threats on all sides. In addition to an increasingly inhospitable climate and the degradation and depletion of habitats, many animals are hunted illegally – for their skins, tusks, and meat. Consider that the illegal wildlife trade is worth an astounding $23 billion annually. That makes it the fourth-most valuable black market industry, behind trafficking drugs, people and weapons.
Poachers target animals in Africa whose body parts fetch high prices in Asia’s black market. Consider that a single kilogram of ivory is worth $150 in Africa but can sell for over $2,000 in Beijing. And rhinoceros horn, which sells for roughly $167 a kilogram in Africa can sell for $33,000 a kilogram in Vietnam and more than $66,000 a kilogram in China.
Our world is a crowded place – we share the planet with more than eight million beautifully unique and fascinating species. But that number is dropping rapidly. Animal species are disappearing at 1,000 times the natural rate of extinction.And according to a U.N. report released this year, roughly one million species face annihilation in the coming decades.
(Berlin) - The effect of modern zoological gardens on the protection of species has been proven once again. As the World Conservation Union IUCN recently announced, the threat to ten species on the so-called Red List has recently been downgraded. These includes the Guam Rail: a few years ago, this small flightless bird from the Pacific island of the same name had already become extinct in the wild. By breeding in zoos, it was possible to successfully reintroduce a wild population to a neighboring island after a 35-year breeding program. Thus, the rail is only the second bird species that has been able to recover from the threat status "extinct in the wild" - after the Californian Condor, which is also preserved by human care. "Of course, the IUCN report encourages us in our actions," says Volker Homes, Managing Director of the Association of Zoological Gardens (VdZ). "For us, this means that nature can recover if we give it the chance to do so by joining forces.
Behind the scenes at London Zoo’s Tiger Territory, Asim is being trained. “Asim down!” says senior keeper Laura Garrett — and the seven-year-old Sumatran tiger lies on the floor. “Asim up!” makes him stand, “Asim sit!” crouch and “Asim board!” lie on a platform where vets can monitor his health. The tiger
Asim’s behaviour and physiology are studied for clues that could help conservation efforts to save wild Sumatran tigers, fewer than 400 of which survive in Indonesia. His stay at ZSL London Zoo — showcase of the Zoological Society of London, the FT’s seasonal appeal partner — had a catastrophic start. Asim arrived in January from Denmark through a European breeding exchange programme that aims to increase the genetic diversity of animals threatened with extinction in the wild. Then, in a sad exception to European zoos’ generally excellent mating of big cats, Asim killed his intended partner Melati in a fight after their introduction in February. Looking back at the tragedy, Malcolm Fitzpatrick, senior curator of mammals, said: “Every precaution was taken when Asim and Melati were introduced. The animal team saw all the positive signs that indicated the introduction would be successful — cautious greetings, chuffing and sniffing. But nature is unpredictable. There is always an inherent risk with any big cat introduction.”
Ula is a female killer whale of orca located at Loro Parque Tenerife located at the Canary Islands. She was born on September 22, 2018 to the orca named Morgan who is pretty well-known and sparked a lot of controversy around the globe, as did Ula’s birth.
Morgan is a female killer whale or orca (Orcinus orca) that was rescued by “Dolfinarium Harderwijk', a Dutch Marine park on June 23 2010 after being found alone and extremely malnourished in the waters of the Wadden Sea. She was completely emaciated when she came to the Dutch dolphinarium. Despite her condition and thanks to the care of the staff and experts at Dolfinarium Harderwijk she recovered rapidly. It was decided Morgan would not be able to survive in the wild by several independent experts unless her exact family group (or pod) was found. Several efforts were made to match photos, her sounds and even her DNA with the existing orca groups who were studied in the wild. Sadly an exact match wasn’t found.
Washington, D.C., Oct. 24, 2019—The U.K.-based animal rights group World Animal Protection’s new “report” on zoos, aquariums, and marine parks with dolphins is long on rehashed allegations and short on the scientific research to support them. Lacking anything new, the report is the latest in a coordinated series of tactics designed to pressure travel companies like Expedia to stop promoting visits to accredited zoos and aquariums, regardless of the high animal welfare standards of those facilities or their scientific research, conservation, and public education work that benefits animals in the wild.
The past few weeks have seen several tourism companies climb aboard the bandwagon of those opposed to keeping marine mammals in aquariums and zoos. The reason cited is familiar rhetoric frequently espoused by animal rights groups, but lacking in credible evidence to substantiate the claims.
Rhetoric shapes public perception, and perception becomes reality. By continually sowing the seeds of doubt in peoples’ minds, and bolstering those doubts with well-spun, half-truth tales that pull on heartstrings, the public begins to accept opinion as truth and accusation as evidence. The tactics of anti-zoo groups are manipulative and disingenuous to be sure, but as a communications professional, we must acknowledge the shrewdness of their strategy. Their singular focus and multi-pronged approach to achieve the end goal is a frustrating and potentially daunting challenge for zoos and aquariums. But it is not unsurmountable with a strategic communications plan.
The target audience of the Empty the Tanks propaganda campaign is empathetic people who care about animals. This is, of course, the same audience of current or prospective visitors and supporters of aquariums and zoos. This audience is exposed to propaganda from many different directions – not only from animal rights groups (which this audience may or may not find trustworthy or credible), but also from friends and influencers in their social networks, celebrities and companies like Trip Advisor and Airbnb. That pervasive rhetoric makes it difficult to differentiate fact from fiction. The tactic being deployed is a law of propaganda as used by Nazi Joseph Goebbels: “Repeat a lie often enough, and it becomes the truth.”
Even if we save the climate by 2050, we could still be pretty alone: That’s too late for thousands of animal and plant species.
Hooray, it’s the year 2050 and the climate is saved! Who would have considered this possible three decades ago? That it could actually be possible to contain global warming at 1.5 degrees!
So, everything went all right again? Unfortunately, no. Because for thousands of animal and plant species every help came too late. They are extinct. Where once the Great Barrier Reef off the Australian coast was swarming and sparkling for over 2,300 kilometers as one of the largest hotspots of biodiversity, white limestone skeletons are now standing over long stretches, over which a few starving starfish are crawling.
No surprise: Already in 2019, it was clear that even if the 1.5-degree target was reached, 70 to 90 percent of coral reefs would die, accompanied by the loss of thousands of species.
But it is not only climate change, the activities of humanity as a whole, that have triggered the long feared greatest mass extinction since the end of the dinosaurs. Where once there were species-rich rainforests, today only soybeans grow or nothing grows because erosion has washed away the thin layer of fertile tropical soil. Where once there were wilderness or diverse cultural landscapes, today there are settlements and industrial areas.
Last chance: Zoo
Even in the protected areas, which are already far too small in terms of numbers and surface area, masses of species have disappeared forever: poached like rhinos, elephants and turtles, or like frogs and salamanders dying of a worldwide spreading fungal infection.
In 2050, humanity would have had an answer to many of these problems: population growth has come to a standstill, industrial agriculture has been cut back, meat consumption has been reduced, the amphibian killer mushroom has been defeated, extensive new protected areas have been created and devastated areas have been renatured.
The only thing is that the species that still lived there in 2019 simply no longer exist. Once extinct, they are gone forever. The most beautiful restored biotope is of no use there.
Already in 2019, the situation for global biodiversity was clear and as well scientifically verified as man-made climate change. The World Biodiversity Council IPBES had unmistakably pointed out the imminent catastrophe: An estimated one million species were on the verge of extinction, not at some point, but in the coming decades.
Apart from the fact that in the year of Trump and Bolsonaro the world was far from saving the world – even if everything had been done immediately and without further delay to protect threatened species in their habitats, it would have been too late for many of them.
Yet, back then the biotopes were damaged too much, too fragmented the remaining habitats, too weak and poor in individuals the surviving populations, too polluted the oceans, too widespread free-range cats and introduced bio invaders.
When only about 50 Java rhinos trotted through the jungle, it had long been clear that they had no chance in the wild. The same applied to the last 10 Vaquita pig whales, the last 15 Chilean Loa frogs, the last four Yangtze giant soft tortoises … The only way to preserve these species would have been to breed them under human care.
Following an article I have posted that criticized the ethical practices of a New Zealand-based whale researcher, I have decided to do a follow- up in light of both some new information along with a little note to some of her devoted followers.
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.
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.
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."
By Erin McKinney | Image Credit: miami.cbslocal.com
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:”
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.
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.
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.
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.