BT: What is Loro Parque and the Loro Parque Fundación?
Waugh: Loro Parque is a privately owned zoological and botanical park located on the subtropical island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands of Spain.
The Loro Parque Fundación, a nonprofit foundation legally registered in 1994 with the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science, has its headquarters in Loro Parque. The Loro Parque Fundación works internationally to promote parrot welfare and to protect parrots and their habitats, through education, applied research, responsible breeding programs and community-based conservation activities that use parrots as ambassadors for nature.
Loro Parque and its foundation work symbiotically. Loro Parque is a private company committed to covering the maintenance and administration costs of the foundation. The Loro Parque Fundación has one of the world’s largest, most diverse group of parrots — up to 4,000 parrots of 350 species and subspecies — and lends a portion to Loro Parque for these wonderful birds to be shown to the public.
BT: How did Loro Parque start?
Waugh: Loro Parque was opened by its founder, Wolfgang Kiessling, in 1972, with 3 acres of land, about 150 parrots and the first parrot show of its kind in Europe. Over the intervening years it has expanded to cover 33 acres with lush vegetation, about 800 parrots on display, and an array of other spectacular animal presentations. In 1986, Loro Parque organized the first International Parrot Convention, which marked the start of its serious engagement in parrot conservation.
BT: What challenges is Loro Parque facing in the changing bird community?
Waugh: Loro Parque and its foundation face challenges related to a rapidly changing world that offers many things to compete for people’s time and attention, especially of the younger generation. A vacation to see wild parrots is not an option for many people, so the experience of being close up to a bird in an aviary still has real importance as a trigger for greater involvement. But first we need to get that person away from the game console or the computer screen!
BT: How does Loro Parque promote parrot conservation?
Waugh: Each year, Loro Parque has more than one million visitors, as well as visits from schools from the Canary Islands and occasionally from elsewhere in Spain. The Loro Parque Fundación runs the public education programs in Loro Parque and includes the promotion of parrot conservation. Loro Parque also has a behind-the-scenes “Discovery Tour” that helps people know more about parrots and their needs. As part of the program for schools, the Loro Parque Fundación can connect in real-time via the Internet to provide video conferences to schools around the world and communicate in English, Spanish or German!
The Loro Parque Fundación has supported more than 70 parrot projects in 28 countries of the world, and in this way directly promotes the conservation of threatened species of parrots in those places.
BT: How does Loro Parque work with pet bird owners?
Waugh: In addition to the international conventions, Loro Parque and its foundation run workshops for parrot owners. Participants have the opportunity to see the practical application of diverse management techniques used in the Loro Parque Fundación breeding center. Our staff also give presentations for the benefit of pet bird owners at a good number of meetings held in other places each year.
Although Loro Parque does not have a dedicated pet bird owner resource center — at least not yet — it willingly gives advice on parrot behavior or tries to provide contacts for bird owners to resolve specific problems.
Every year the Loro Parque Fundación breeds 1,200 or so parrots, and some of those will become pet birds, with all of the income from the sales going to the welfare and conservation projects. For more information, go to www.loroparque-fundacion.org