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Loro Parque takes part in major orca study 

The Loro Parque Foundation has contributed to a study to show how toxic substances in the sea affect the immune system of orcas.

The study concludes that the accumulation of pollutants in the sea generates a ‘toxic cocktail’ that affects animals more than if they were exposed to only one of the components in the same concentration.

The project, supported by the Foundation in 2017, has attempted to determine how toxic pollutants present in the sea specifically affect the killer whale’s defense system.

Dr. Javier Almunia, Director of Environmental Affairs of the Loro Parque Fundación, stressed that the novelty of this study lies in the fact that not only the effect of a toxic substance has been mea-sured, but a combination of several.

“These components have been selected according to the frequency in which they have been found in the body of stranded animals in Antarctica and in the capture quota of killer whales allowed for Inuit indigenous populations of Greenland, and that re-searchers from the University of Aarhus in Denmark have analysed,” he explained.

The study was carried out in the laboratory after extracting a blood sample – about half a litre each – from the orcas in the OrcaOcean facilities. Once the sample is removed, the blood cells that are in charge of the immune part are purified, they are tested “in vitro”, and subjected to this “cocktail of toxins”.

The greatest effect that this toxic combination can produce is to shorten the life of animals.

Dr. Javier Almunia believes that the results of the study, published in the journal Environmental sciences and technology, are now available to the community, and that the next step is to reach the political sphere. so that decisions are made about it.