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INTERVIU TO RAFAEL ZAMORA PADRÓN

BIOLOGIST SPECIALIZED IN ZOOLOGY / LORO PARQUE FUNDATION

Loro Parque Fundación

 

BY

RAMSÉS BÁEZ

GONZALO BLANCO

 
Loriidae

 

Gonzalo Blanco and Ramsés Báez, two of the founders of Loriidae (Spanish fans association of Lories, fig-parrots and Loriculus), which have focus their objetive in the reproduction of lories, have contacted the biologist Rafael Zamora to interviu him, about this interesant group within psittacine.

 

An extensive intervie that becomes an interesant article with usefull details for lories fans.

Gonzalo Blanco - Avigon

 

BREEDING

 

 

In captive breeding, what are the biggest diference you see between loris and the rest of psittacine?

 

The main diference is its maintenance regarding hygiene. Lories heces are a good medium for bacteria and fungus. Therefore the cages design, internal furniture placement and their management should be carefully studied to not make its maintenance unworkable.

 

In a way lories can be cleaner than other species but this depends very much on the breeder who attends them.

 

It must also be explain that lories requires much more time of dedication than other seed-eating species. Its diets needs, in most species, more processing time and quantity of replenishments. With the smaller species, if the breeder wants to do it well, he will even have to change the nectar four times a day.

 

 

Which is the loris species or species that LPF feels greater predilection and why?

 

Loro Parque Foundation feels predilection for all its lories species. Each species is a gem by itself, and keeping them breeding in stable numbers requires an exquisite dedication that makes you value all with the same appreciation. Those who visit the breeding station of Loro Parque in La Vera quickly realizes this detail. There are lori species which breeders dont pay attention, but seeing them in couples, beside other similar species, warm their worth by some kind of particularity that makes them unique compared to others. This is the moment when the breeder specilizes and its able to concentrate in one specific group. Is in that moment when we talk about the “crush”.

 

 

And you in particular?...

 

My weakness in this group are the tiny whiskered lories Oreopsittacus arfaki. The first time I saw them they seemed amazing for its small size and unique features in the world of birds and loris in themselves. But be lying if I said that Vini, the group of Phigys, galgulus and the whole genus Charmosyna are my favorites among the loris. I can't say only one. J Sorry.

 

 

 

 

What lorie species do you consider more problematic to breed?

 

The most difficult ones are those that are poorly represented in captivity. The ones that don´t adapt well to the diets we can give them. Eos histrio, for example, with a marked tendency to obesity, it depends on the environment that can be offered and is directly related to diet.

 

The fig-parrots Psittaculirostris or Opopsittas, are equally special and require further efforts to evolve in their maintenance.

 

Would´nt want to label them as problematic so easily. But it´s true that is the type of bird from which many breeders can become deeply disillusioned and turn the page to other species that give them more satisfaction in the short term.

 

 

             

 

 

Why do you think so related and physically similar species such as Eos bornea and Eos semilarvata or cianogenia are ones easy to breed in captivity and the others so complicated?

 

 Each one has different biology, their habitats are different and specific. These are the factors that make their adaptation over time to our management through  different generations.

 

We have also to keep in mind  inbreeding factors. Many of these species have come in very low numbers and starting on a few genetic lines has developed what´s on today. Looking the ecology of these species we can also see differences in specificity and specialization. The Eos Bornea for example are in a condition of 'least concern', while the Eos cyanogenia is considered now as 'threatened / vulnerable' coming from a specific islands where their populations have always been smaller compared to those of Eos Bornea, much more widespread and abundant.

 

Although resemble in appearance, they are trophic specialists in their habitats, which are generally not  extensive, as they dont live in continents and the transformation of the territory for the use of crops or other human activities, as  catches   affects   rapidly in the growing of its populations.

 

Eos semilarvata is almost unknown in captivity outside their origin area, where, in the other hand, no effort is made to reproduce them. Not so long ago their weren´t even photos for the parrots encyclopedias we know now. They are exotic beauties that still bear little time in captivity. For which are also physiological adaptation requirements.

 

 

Knowing that each species, and even couples within the same species can have different preferences, for breeding lories, what nest do you  consider to have the best features?

 

Globally, "L" nests are best suited. But it is good to give them generous offer to each couple. One "L" and another horizontal with some tilt, will perfectly cover the requirements for egg laying of the copies.

 

In a breeding center in Venezuela I saw several loris species breeding in metal nests. Something that impressed me,  but I welcomed with enthusiasm seeing the good results given. They were horizontal and with good ventilation.

 

I always say that the nest does not produce eggs or chicks. Successful achievements in reproduction depend on how healthy we keep the couples and the skills that  the breeder has to make good decisions at the right moment.

 

 

 

Is it advisable to keep the nests throughout the year or its better to remove them in the rest period?

 

I Particularly think the ideal is to remove the nests outside of breeding season. Or at least close the entrances. If you want or need, you can make different refuges for species that looks for hollows in winter. We must see the nests as an incentive for individuals and not as a piece of furniture to life provision. In nature the couples don´t live linked to a nest all year round. And in captivity we have to give time and importance to enrichment. The change of environment and elements is critical to the welfare of a breeding pair.

 

NUTRITION

 

 

Home nectars Vs. commercial Nectars,  which  would you prefer and what advantages and disadvantages do you see for each one?

 

To my birds at a particular level I always prefer homemade formulas. It's the way we  enjoying better aviculture. Especially if  few couples  ...are kept  to dedicate them the necessary time. The stability of these formulas is lower than comercial ones,  but for this very reason they have less unnecessary components. In addition to the obligation to involve a closer and frequent handling.

 

Commercial formulas give independence to the breeder and increasingly are being improved, with the advantage of achieving basic stability in the diet, which sometimes in homemade formulas can not be achieved  by the lack of any component or inaccuracies in the calculation of the formula.

 

I think the best is to combine bouth, adjusting the amounts offered. If you get to a balance, under the  graduation and the decision of the breeder, the control of the results is achieved.

 

In lories the key is to achieve diets that they can quickly metabolize.  All that lories can not process will be accumulated inappropriately in their bodies. If they do little exercise it´s even worse. Lorises are tireless athletes who will be picking at different sites. They are not like granivores that travel, eat, rest and engage in other activities. Overall  nectarivorous birds  have a more pronounced activity, as if they where continually hungry but really they don´t. With a very active metabolism we must understand its biology in which  searching a small amount of food It's their natural way of life, and not binge in font of a full plate in one place. Understanding this concept we can achieved many successes with them.

 

 

 

LPF varies the lories diet depending if they are in breeding or rest  season?

 

Yes. It is also very important to do it for the health of individuals.

 

 

How many different diets do you prepare to lories? Do you make specific diets  for the diferent genus or species?

 

We do a basic nectar diet to all and other specific nectar depending on  groups of species. It being understood that each couple needs their particular attention. There are couples that work better with one types of cut fruit than other. Breeders observation at this point is the key, because although it is not about giving caprice, we have  to ensure that the animals are fed completely and well balanced.

 

It´s clear that the more couples we have , the  more it complicates to have an optimal maintenance.

              

 

Once the offspring are independent, it is necessary to enriched their diet with an extra supply of protein till they  reach young adulthood or first molt, or they are fed the same diet as adults?

 

It is important to maintain a moderate protein intake after independence to end the  form of the structures of the lories. But as a complement. In the moulting they also need help in this regard and maximum hygiene. But depends much on the conditions that they are able to provide. It will depend on the weather, facilities and flight they can do to exercise the copies, so that if the breeder has the youth in large aviaries where they can fly and have sunbathing, they will need less attention in this respect than a breeding center that have to keep them in tight spaces where the exercise is lower.

 

 

You provide lories live food?

 

Yes, we give them mealworms 'Tenebrio mollitor' most willingly accepted during the breeding season. Outside this period the couple shows a palpable contempt for this food source, being on the other side unnecessary.

 

 

Do you recommend adding vitamins and minerals to the loris diet?

 

...

Definitely yes, but only when necessary. And it is important to make good estimates because industrial nectars already include vitamins and minerals. Loris physiology is, as you know, special. They have a very active and fast metabolism. Calculations failures in minerals or vitamins can have disastrous consequences that ends the individuals life without much notice. So it is an issue that don't have to be taken lightly. Many people supplement the diet like crazy thinking in lories advantage. "Vitamins" sounds positive, but hypervitaminosis means the opposite.

 

 

Do you consider appropriate to provide shoots or sprouts to lories? What do you think are the most appropriate to provide the lories diet?

 

Of course they are and they are not required in large amounts. It may be a small daily contribution before and during the breeding season. Rich in minerals, proteins, enzymes and antioxidants several legumes are very interesting to enrich their diet. In the case of lories Chinese Jewish seeds, also called mung bean, provide a useful contribution. And my recommendation is to always use unmixed single germinated. I mean seeds sprouted separately and offered on different days. The main reason is to avoid contamination since the sprouts are especially sensitive to the proliferation of bacteria and fungi. You have to handle this type of food scrupulously and in really small amounts calculated for each instance so that there are no remnants past 4 hours. Not for  giving  a kilo of germinated you will achive best result than giving 3 grams. The breeder has to combine this element as a useful supplement.

 

 

Do you think wise to use probiotics? If so, at what moment do you  think  convenient to use them?

 

The best time is before the breeding period, in the rest period. Also in convalescence stages. It is not something to be used indiscriminately all the year round or each month.

 

 

There are many fig parrots breeders that manage to have chicks, but they die in a few days, what do you think is the failure?

 

...

The base failure is the diet, which is difficult to reach the right one depending on the breeding centers they are. A Caloric diet in a  hot and humid weather does not work in the same way as in a cooler and drier climate. The parameters have big variations and the adaptation, better or worse, of the copies as well.

 

An important part of the success is in the management. The "fig parrots" are particularly sensitive to manipulations of the nest and it is best not to disturb them. Once the have had several clutches taken forward the breeder can risk making the first manipulations to see how they work.

 

Undoubtedly they are speccies for experienced breeders and that are, preferably, concentrated in this group.

 

 

MANAGEMENT

 

 

What actions should be taken when a couple has continuously unfertilized eggs?

 

...

.- Lories check by an expert veterinarian.

.- Analyze samples for possible infections.

.- Check stability of perch.

.- Check the health of the legs of the specimens. Look if there is a lack of fingers or nails.

.- Observe copulations.

.- Observe age and vitamins contributions if necessary.

.- Change the location of the pair.
 

If the couple  is not really compatible, does´nt sleep together on the same perch, don´t have long periods of marriage, there are frequent clashes or are never together near the nest, no choice but to attempt to undo the union. First for a long period where they preferably can´t see or hear each other.

 

For later reintroduction in a different cage. If this does not work, the search for new specimens for new pairings will be necessary.

 

 

Do you think these situation  also occurs in nature or are own to captive breeding due to incorrect management?

 

In nature infertile eggs are more common than people might think. Many females take several seasons to get raising a brood.

 

In captivity the factors that may affect are significantly multiply

             

 

In the wild it´s often seen lories in groups, do you think it might be beneficial to create outside the breeding season groups in captivity ?

 

It's definitely good for them. Group interaction gives much vigor and development of natural behaviors needed to do better in the immediate future.

 

The groups encourage a balanced diet of the specimens when they have space. Like exercise.

      

 

In captivity it occurs that in certain species  there are born much more numbers of individuals of one gender, as male excess in Charmosyna. Do you think there is any possibility to avoid this trap?...

 

We must study this in perspective, many times these deviations are punctual and in certain years. Here in Europe, for example, in specific years in which breeders told me that only males were born to them, curiously in Loro Parque Foundation could happen that more females than males were born. And it has happened to us with many other species in which it is real that some deviations are experienced  but finally looking at the overall, proportions are balanced. It could  be control.

 

There are many theories about the influence factors but should be studied thoroughly.

 

 

In Europe there are breeders who try to play goldiei Lori, Loriculus or some species more in colony. Is it possible to form breeding colonies lories?

 

It is possible, though this is not customary. We've had some success with Eos histrio, which are stimulated enough to be sharing colony and territories.

 

We know of breeders who have done very well with Loriculus colony but always going to depend on the sex ratio, the space available and the options to move the copies. The design of a room is everything and behavior of birds vary greatly depending on the environment.

 

With what we can tell, it is with problems if only two couples in a small room with few options to avoid visual contact between individuals at certain times.

 

The increase in couples and the possibility of avoiding common innkeepers skills and feeding areas, greatly facilitate the chances of success without conflict. Leaving not forget that there are conflicting with those who struggle to fit in groups or with your partner, so the specimens in all cases observation breeding colony becomes a requirement that you control the different situations.

 

 

It recently came out a study of LPF, which said to have better success with colonies of Eclectus and a couple of white cockatoo in the same aviary, earning a higher rate of fertilized eggs presumably by competition between species. Do you see feasible to do something similar with loris? If so, what species would be most suitable?

 

I have to say that I don´t recommend it because the loris can be very territorial in these periods. The inter-species mixture can end with injuries of an unthinkable proportions. And not always the most dangerous are the largest. A couple of lorius can  end up killing other of palm cockatoos.

 

If the relationship inter-species is with groups of loris of similar sizes and are the conditions are the corrects, you can try with great vigilance.

 

They are compatible genus:

 

* .- Vini, Glossopsitta, Phygis, Loriculus.

* .- Trichoglossus between them, but with the high risk of hybridizations.

* .- Chalcopsitta but at high risk of attack.

* .- Group Lorius but be very attentive to the territoriality in mating season.

 

I must insist that the amount of space, nests, feeding bowls and watering as well as the number and location of the perch, will play a key role in maintaining these groups successfully.

 

         

 

With Lories we find couples who don´t feed or even attacking their chicks. What do you think can  cause this behavior? What can be done to change this situation?

 

...

Immaturity and lack of experience in most cases creates these problems. It also occurs because  the absence of compatibility between partners. Males that dont feed  their females and / or force them to remain in the nest.

 

Not socialized animals  in their youth can also be an impediment to developing the behaviors of the species.

 

Attacks on chicks are also multifactorial. Dietary deficiencies, very high hormone levels due to the location of the cage relative to predators or other animals that can create stress to the couple, parasite problems or nocturnal intruders like mice, etc ... can lead to these harmful attitudes.

 

The breeder must pay attention and correct these influences as they are  located. It is a detective work based on the information available.

 

 

CONSERVATION

 

 

What is the importance of conservation of the loris in captivity?

 

The main goal should be to reproduce them as many as possible. Although there is the disadvantage that they are birds that have become unique because not all breeders can keep them. Nor do they have the same output as other species and destinations for copies are for certain breeders.

 

The importance of maintaining a healthy cabin in captivity is high because you never know which of these sensitive species may disappear from their habitat. And those in the breeding centers, yet far from being liberated their offspring in their original habitats,  can become the key to better understand the biology and be able to help in the habitat where they can be threatened.

 

What is the reason for the worldwide reduction of some lories species bred in captivity and what can be done to minimize this problem?

 

As I mentioned in another answer the question is always related to the few fans and breeders that can be devoted to maintenance.

 

Not being birds whose management is affordable for any fan, its breeding is limited as its expansion.

 

Fix is so complicated as to make us humans pay more attention to an extinct bird left few in captivity against a charismatic mammal that fit many more opportunities for conservation. The latter has everything to gain.

 

 

Do you think the breeding of parrots and other species, is bound to disappear with time due to the inevitable inbreeding?

 

No, not at all. In my experience the captive breeding of species is variable. There are years when a species is well represented in breeding centers and paradoxically if this situation continues for a couple of seasons, the demand gets lower and soon again becomes difficult to find. Only extremely rare and with bad breeding results, that some zoos have, may disappear.

 

Inbreeding is a basis to consider but doesn´t limited reproduction of a species in captivity to 100%. Many bird species well established in both professional breeding centers as novice fans come from a few specimens reproduced several generations before. The coincidence of genes can give in certain cases the expression of features normally hidden. Appearing new colors, different feathers sizes and phenotypic changes in general. And even at certain times, rates of infertility among couples or expression of lethal factors causing embryonic death. But by dint of select and testing  different specimens, breeders manage to overcome this bottleneck and increase the populations being handled. What I am triying to describe has happened before with many species. Finally we select the ones that breeds best , almost without knowing it, thanks to that quality.

 

             

 

How many couples of one specie do you consider that  should remain between European breeders to avoid inbreeding in the  medium and long term?

 

As many as they can. Difficult question and unconclude answer....

 

Ideally, each breeder should count with at least three pairs of  different blood lines. And perhaps the most important, is to have the origins well identified and localized. Working the inbreeding with knowledge can become quite complicated and hard when making decisions. Although it is also true that birds are very grateful in this regard and the inclusion of new genes in a related group is noted with more speed than expected.

 

 

Unfortunately it has been disappearing lories species in Europe  and others are very rare and, in the very near future, their disappearance is inevitable. Which species you consider are destined to disappear?

 

Many like Charmosyna multistriata, seem to have disappeared from European breeding centers to suddenly emerge somewhere in Europe in the house of a retired amateur who didn´t tell much to the rest of his  successes.

 

Others, like Chalcopsitta atra insignis, or Oreopsittacus arfaki ,  are  already scarce. The latter have limited demand when placing surplus.

 

Does anyone see an 'arfaki' as a pet in a pet shop? The answer is no. So delicate, so laborious maintenance and because guarantees that a nobel breeder will go well with them are very low. Therefore even the specialized trade would cost you for standing up to prompt complaints with very low profit margins.

 

 

We have recently seen in the latest issue of the Journal of Loro Parque Foundation you collaborate on a project to help the insitu Lathamus discolor. What are the first steps that should be taken to stop the drasticall reduction of their numbers in the wild  and avoid being included in Appendix A of CITES?

 

The keys are in the field research which should produce concrete evidence to suggest the solutions to take. On the other hand local human populations must also know the problems of the birds in their environment and  know the importance of respecting and helping them. There are several processes to reach a good end but they require time and funding.

 

Lathamus discolor is a parrot that makes migrations with radical changes in  habitats. Their journeys have been  succeeding for years and surely guided by an instinct sculpted based on the learning and evolution of individuals. This feature makes them very special in the world of parrots and therefore are probably more sensitive to changes and fracturing of the environments in which they move. How to find food in other parrot species allows them to dominate a particular ecosystem where memory plays an important role. If a psittacine species changes to a distant ecosystem where the expected elements are missing, the negative impact on the success of the species, should be significant and immediate. Provided that an animal that lacks food in a particular place of its familiar surroundings has always nearby options to locate another food source, but to one that has moved many kilometers it complicated a lot, given the energy requirements involved.

 

Other factors also add to the disadvantages fighting against the species and for this we must determine in what circumstances they face mammalian species that prey on their eggs in the breeding areas.

 

As always an arduous task of scientific research to experts,  who Loro Parque Foundation  support.

 

Could this specie be keept in an aviary with several couples together? Would this be the best method to place them, or its better to have them on independent aviarys or cages?

 

...

Yes, they do well in groups and are very social. Anyway be must comply with the premises of a good facility for a species of swift flight that always competes for the high positions of the aviarys.

 

To breed it´s not necessary, since they do very well in pairs on individual cages which can have 3 meter long. In side by side cages where the birds of  the same specie can see each other can be managed the breeding in apreciable numbers.

 

 

Do you consider feasible the possibility of breeding lories in captivity for use in reintroduction programs in nature?

 

For its viability no problem. It can be done and lories are a group of species that can be assessed as quite suitable for such processes.

 

Yet today, in most cases the reintroduction is not the solution to almost any species that are affected in the wild. First it should be work to replace the lost habitats and and prior to that, investigation must give the reasons that lead to the disappearance of flora and fauna that live there.

    

 

Rafael, thank you so much for everything. Last question. What would you recommend to the breeders who are now immersed in the world of loris?

 

Not to leave or desist from these species for difficult it may seem to them sometimes. If they decided on the lories it is because they have skills, talent and interest in them and must be convinced that eventually the goals that seemed distant thanks to the perseverance are achieved. Sometimes  surpassing all expectations.

 

We especially invite you to become Loro Parque Foundation members and get involved in the protection of nature in an effective way and join in our research and exchange of information on each species both in the wild and in captivity. This is the way to grow together enjoying and analyzing every detail of our conversations among breeders, where the experiences of each may be the success of the lories that are under our responsibility.
 

 

Loriidae also want to encourage all readers of this interview to become members of Loro Parque Foundation, not only because you are entitled to enter as many times as you want to Loro Parque, visit the breeding center of the Loro Parque Foundation and receive the magazine Loro Parque "Cyanopsitta" but because 100% of your money will go to the conservation of nature through the many conservation projects of Loro Parque Foundation.

 

 

         

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