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Loro Parque








 

The Loro Parque Fundación (LPF) is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation legally registered with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Government of Spain since 1994. It operates on an international basis to promote the conservation of parrots and their habitats.

It has its headquarters at Loro Parque, a first class zoological collection based on the island of Tenerife, in the Canary Islands (Spain). The Loro Parque Fundación focuses on parrots, for several good reasons. Parrots are found throughout the different tropical regions, where biodiversity is highest and where environmental destruction is at its greatest. No other group of birds contains such a high number of threatened species. Moreover, because of their beautiful colours and appealing behaviour, parrots can be very effective "flagships" in increasing support from local rural communities and attracting vital aid necessary for environmental and economic improvements.

 
















From the moment you get off the little electric train that takes you from central Puerto de la Cruz at the gates of Loro Parque, you know you are in for a treat.  The dazzling Thai entrance was imported from Thailand and opens onto a tranquil pond.  







Several members of the Thai royal family such as Prince Mahidol (father of the king), Princess Galyani Vadhana, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhom and Princess Chulaborn Mahidol have visted Loro Parque, cementing its relationship with Thailand.  This is also where you find the gift shop, Porcelain Museum and Discovery Tour booking desk.  The name “Loro Parque” means “Parrot Park” in Spanish but over time, it has expanded to include several attractions to draw the tourist crowd such as an Orca Show, Dolphin Show, Sea Lion Show, Penguin exhibit and several apes and gorillas.  I am going to assume readers of this article are more interested in the parrots though. 

Of course there is a parrot show in which several parrots assemble puzzles, ride bicycles, sing, talk, perform calculations and fly freely around the room.  Much to my delight, I got to see several Golden Conures fly around the room when I was there!  Just outside the parrot show auditorium is an African style market with many types of souvenirs available. 

Loro Parque boasts the world’s greatest diversity of parrots in a single reserve with over 4000 specimens from 350 species.  You can see parrots rarely found elsewhere here such as Pesquet’s Parrots, Brown Lories, Yellow Streaked Lories, Edward’s Fig Parrots, Moluccan King Parrots, Vasa Parrots, Grey Hooded Parakeets, Yellow-faced Parrotlets, Blue-eyed Cockatoos, Philippine Cockatoos, Rose-Fronted Parakeets and many more!  The birds are housed in spacious, well planted aviaries designed to duplicate the birds’ native habitats as closely as possible.   They seem used to the many people stopping to watch and photograph them and are just as curious about us as we are about them!

There is a Baby Station in the park where certain baby parrots who aren’t being cared for by their parents are taken to be handreared.  The large windows give viewers a good view into the area where they can observe the experts feeding the baby parrots.  When I was there, I got to see a lot of baby Golden Conures and other adorable babies awaiting their turn to be fed.

The highlight of Loro Parque is their latest attraction:  Katandra Treetops which is a huge walk-in aviary where dozens of parrots and other birds fly freely around and will occasionally land on you.   Visitors can walk on swinging bridges high among the treetops and get up close and personal with cheeky Lorikeets, Galahs, a Palm Cockatoo, Cockatiels and some brazen Victoria Crowned Pigeons who will grab stuff out of your bag if you let them!

So where do all these birds come from?  Many of them have been recovered from poachers and the the illegal parrot trade and donated to the Loro Parque Fundacion and most of them were bred at Loro Parque’s spectacular breeding facility, La Vera.  La Vera is not open to the public but delegates to the World Parrot Congress who are members of the Loro Parque Fundacion are invited to visit on one of the afternoons after the lectures.  We were split up into languages and assigned a guide (who spoke English in our case) who took us around the lavishly planted aviaries. 


The birds enjoy lots of enrichment, natural lighting and in many cases, colony breeding with several birds sharing a large aviary with a choice of nest boxes.  I drooled over the Golden Conures, fell in love with a cheeky little baby Lory and was really just so overwhelmed, I didn’t know where to look next!  My guide was constantly chasing me along as I stopped to take pictures and didn’t want to leave!  The best was yet to come……………….the Spix’s Macaws! 

 Extinct in the wild since 2000, the Spix’s Macaw is the world’s rarest parrot, but numbers in captivity look set to rise as the Loro Parque Foundation, Tenerife, has successfully bred another chick in July 2010 as part of its 20 year conservation programme. The sex of the chick has been determined as female, and when mature she will play a pivotal role in the breeding scheme. The Brazilian government owns this and all the other Spix’s Macaws maintained by the Foundation within this important partnership.  Security was tight and a wall of glass separated us visitors from the 3 young Spix’s Macaws in the aviary but their natural curiosity about us couldn’t be contained as they came as close as possible to inspect us.  I even managed to teach one little cutie to wave “Hello” in a few minutes.  As with my first encounter with this charming species, I was struck by their natural friendliness.  In a better world, where Spix’s Macaws were as plentiful as Sun Conures or Cockatiels, they would be the most popular pet bird in the world.  Sadly, they were led to the brink of extinction by poachers and habitat loss and would have been lost to the world forever if not for the efforts of Al Wabra and the Loro Parque Fundacion.    Hopefully, when I return in 2014 for the next World Parrot Congress, they will have increased even more! 

The World Parrot Congress was an amazing experience!  We were treated to lectures by day from some of the world's top parrot conservationists such as Mauricio Herrera, Yara Barros, David Waugh and many others.  By night, we enjoyed good food, great entertainment and had a chance to meet and mingle with bird lovers from all over the world, an experience not to be missed!



WORLD PARROT CONGRESS 


For more information see their websites.

Loro Parque Fundacion 
Loro Parque
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