No Cages For Giraffes! Zoos, Animal Activists Join Up To Set Basic Standards

No Cages For Giraffes! Zoos, Animal Activists Join Up To Set Basic Standards

An orangutang at the Berlin zoo. Photo: achschav via Instagram

Animal welfare groups and German zoos have been working together to fix minimum standards for the keeping of animals. An assessment, a kind of catalogue, launched earlier this month is meant to be the definitive reference point for German zoos both large and small, game preserves, and for private individuals who keep wild animals.

How big does a giraffe-run need to be? What are the best foods for baboons and how should they be presented? New scientific knowledge, a new law on the protection of species, and European Union guidelines all had to be taken into account in this updated version, as did the fact that there are now some new species in captivity that zoos didn’t have when the last assessment was written in the late 1990s.

Reservations were expressed by both groups and suggestions for improvement, which, had they not been included in the report, would have meant that it was not signed by either group, reported Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Although the amount of run space for many species was increased — four giraffes now have a right to 1000 instead of 500 square meters, for example — the new rules don’t go far enough for the animal welfare advocates.

Photo: Jim Wells/QMI Agency/ZUMA

They had also wanted a review of whether certain animals like polar bears, great apes and dolphins should be held in captivity at all. James Brückner of the German Animal Protection League noted that the zoos tended to fulfill only the bare minimum of requirements and were resisting having to adjust their standards to the levels of other European countries, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

"The assessment is a compromise," said Theo Pagel, President of the Union of German Zoo Directors.

While the animal activists and the zoo representatives were unable to agree on so much, many chapters in the report had to be finished by some of the impartial observers, such as vets and scientists, who were also a part of this updating process.

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

— Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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