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Animal Conservation Research

ANCOR is designed to support a conservation of specific species of birds (namely parrots) and mammals (namely cetaceans). It began by investigating how one can improve the housing conditions of captive songbirds, e.g. Nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos) or Arabian Babblers (Turdoides squamiceps), or of semi-free mammals, such as Barbary Macaques (Macaca sylvanus) and Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Research on the latter was carried out at the Dolphin Reef (Eilat), a large open-sea enclosure with a gate allowing the dolphins free access to the Gulf of Aquaba. After studies on how subjects were dealing with the 'risks of a free life', individual dolphins were trained to better manage such risks (e.g. catching fish, coping with different obstacles). Finally, three adult dolphins were successfully released in their original habitat, the Black Sea (Veit et al. 1997).

Encouraged by this success we are going now to perform projects of conservation research on Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) expected to be housed in the world-largest inland enclosure (Loro Parque, Tenerife). Concurrently, we have revised our research program on 'Human-Animal-Relationships', and addressed the focus more directly to the so-called 'Dolphin-Assisted-Therapy'. The aim of this project is to clarify the scientific value of such therapy and to identify factors that underlie possible effects. Thereby we want to replace the animals by a dynamical model, and thus fight against any mistreatment of these wonderful creatures.