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Old March 24th, 2010, 05:16 PM   #41
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Lessons for HK park in killer whale horror
28 February 2010
South China Morning Post

So long as wild animals are kept in captivity, humans will debate whether the educational, research and commercial value justifies removing them from their natural environment to confined spaces. Death and disease among captive animals stirs the discussion. When they kill one of their captors, it comes to the boil.

The horrific killing of a trainer by a killer whale at a Florida marine theme park is a case in point. There is much controversy over the park's decision to keep Tilikum, the six-metre killer whale that seized trainer Dawn Brancheau while she was feeding him from a poolside platform and thrashed her to death under water. It has ruled out calls from the Humane Society and animal rights activists that he be released into a controlled area of ocean to exercise properly and relieve the stress of captivity - which has likely deprived him of the ability to survive in the wild - or even that he be destroyed. Instead, SeaWorld will tighten its safety regime so the animal can remain part of its breeding programme and a companion to seven others.

The conflict resonates in Hong Kong, where Ocean Park's HK$5.5 billion redevelopment includes the introduction of many more species. Not long ago there was concern among conservationists after a giant panda attacked and injured a trainer and another trainer was bitten by a sea lion. Experts also said death rates for cetaceans such as killer whales, dolphins and porpoises were high compared with parks in the US and Europe, although Ocean Park said they were no worse than in the wild. The attacks were, thankfully, minor and there was no suggestion of a systemic problem. Wild animals in captivity can behave unpredictably. The park's redevelopment has led to many improvements that should enhance safety and the care of its animals.

That said, the Florida tragedy is a reminder of the dangers to man and animals alike of keeping them in artificial environments. For the sake of public confidence in a successful tourist and educational attraction, Ocean Park and the government should consider calls by critics for independent oversight of its treatment of animals, and to be transparent about animal deaths and the causes.
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Old April 17th, 2010, 08:06 PM   #42
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Ocean Park eyes deal to import dolphins
17 April 2010
South China Morning Post

In a move that is angering conservationists, Ocean Park will fund research by the government of the Solomon Islands into dolphin numbers as part of an arrangement that may lead to up to 30 bottlenose dolphins being imported to the theme park.

Representatives from Ocean Park have been in talks with the government of the country, east of Papua New Guinea, to pay for a survey seen as critical to allowing the controversial trade in dolphins to continue.

In return, the theme park is expected to get an option to buy dolphins to bring to Hong Kong.

A Solomon Islands government adviser told the South China Morning Post yesterday the representatives met two government ministers and are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding under which "between 24 and 30" dolphins would be sent to Hong Kong.

Ocean Park chairman Allan Zeman insisted last night the talks were at a "very preliminary stage" and no dolphins would be imported to Hong Kong unless it was clear that the marine mammals' population in the Solomon Islands was not at risk.

"If the dolphins there are not sustainable, we would go somewhere else," he said. "There are a lot of dolphins around, of different species."

Zeman said no decision had been taken as to how many dolphins Ocean Park should import. The park currently has 16.

The theme park keeps a stock of bottlenose dolphins for performances as well as interactive programmes that allow limited touching of the animals by visitors.

The park used to buy fresh stocks of dolphins as needed. The last time it did so is believed to have been in 1998, when some were bought from Indonesia.

In 2001, it became the world's first aquarium to breed the dolphins by artificial insemination, and more than half its present stock came from captive-breeding programmes and artificial insemination, thus reducing the need for capture in the wild.

To improve genetic diversity and avoid inbreeding that might result in genetic weaknesses in the marine mammals, the park has also exchanged dolphin semen with overseas aquariums.

A spokeswoman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said it had not received any applications from Ocean Park for dolphin imports.

As dolphins are a listed species under the protection of endangered-species provisions in the Animals and Plants Ordinance, imports require both an export permit issued by the country of origin and a licence issued by the department in advance.

Any arrangement with the Solomon Islands is likely to stir controversy, with some conservationists claiming the country's dolphin stocks may not be sustainable and arguing that all dolphin exports from it should be halted.

Dr Suzanne Gendron and Grant Abel from Ocean Park visited the country late last month.

Dr Baddley Anita, an adviser to the minister of fisheries in the Solomon Islands, said the pair met the fisheries and environment ministers.

Ocean Park had agreed to fund an "abundance survey" of dolphins - which Anita described as a way of getting overseas parties interested in importing dolphins to give something to the Solomon Islands in return.

"I have heard that Hong Kong wants between 24 and 30 animals to improve their genetic stocks {hellip}" Anita said.

"They are in the stages of having an MOU done between Ocean Park and scientific and management authorities here in the Solomon Islands.

"The Solomon Islands does not have the money to carry out scientific research, so we have asked people who want to import to put their money where their mouth is."

The research would "give us an idea of the dolphin stocks and abundance in this area", he said, pointing out that the sea area around the Solomon Islands was about the size of Europe, with the case study area alone covering 20,000 to 30,000 square kilometres.

Arguing in favour of a continuation of the overseas trade in dolphins, Anita said it would help stop the killing of the animals by dolphin harvesting communities in the Solomon Islands for food and to meet school fees and buy fishing gear.

"You can sell 50 animals and have the quota divided between the dolphin harvesting communities rather than have them kill a total of 2,000 to 3,000 animals a year," he said.

A report last year by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) raised concerns over the dolphin population in the Solomon Islands, which is currently able to sell 50 of the animals a year overseas, and said the trade should be halted pending a detailed survey.

The Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society criticised Ocean Park for funding a government survey that it argued would not be impartial and would seek to continue the lucrative trade in dolphins.

In 2003, 28 live dolphins were sold to Mexico by the island country for HK$585,000 each, according to the IUCN report, which said such exports should be stopped unless the population was properly assessed and shown to be sustainable.

It said that if the international standard, under which only 1-2 per cent of a population of a species should be removed, was applied to the Solomon Islands, the population of bottlenose dolphins would need to be at least 5,000.

"Ocean Park has a population of resident dolphins, and they claim they breed them quite well and maintain the population, so why do they need to capture more wild dolphins?" Dolphin Conservation Society chairman Samuel Hung Ka-yiu said.

"To go to the Solomon Islands is quite controversial. The Solomon Islands have exported dolphins to facilities all over the world, including Dubai, Mexico and Singapore.

"The conclusion of the IUCN report was that the bottlenose population in the Solomon Island wasquite small and that this catch was unsustainable. Basically, it recommended no further catch until a proper population assessment."

Hung said funding research by the Solomon Islands government was just "buying by another name and in a way that makes Ocean Park look good. If Ocean Park wants to fund a study on dolphins, it should be giving the money to independent scientists, not the government of the Solomon Islands. Any report by the Solomon Islands government is bound to come out in a way that is favourable to the government's view."

But Zeman said he did not believe the survey findings would be biased.

"I find it hard to believe they would slant something like that," he said. Ocean Park would accept nothing other than a fair, impartial study.

According to the IUCN report, each dolphin exported earns the Solomon Islands government about US$7,500, or 10 per cent of the selling price, in taxes.

No statistics exist on the current population, but conservation groups say populations of bottlenose dolphins tend to be small, often only in the hundreds, except in areas off the western coast of Australia and the Arabian Gulf.
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Old April 25th, 2010, 05:27 AM   #43
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Animal groups urge HK to reject dolphin imports
23 April 2010
SCMP

Eight international animal conservation groups are pressing Hong Kong to reject and even confiscate any live dolphin imports from the Solomon Islands for Ocean Park, warning that allowing such imports will damage the city's international reputation.

A petition letter jointly signed by the groups has been written to Alan Wong Chi-kong, director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation, which implements international rules of wildlife trade. The letter has been copied to the Chief Executive's Office.

The groups are the Animal Welfare Institute, Cetacean Society, Earth Island Institutes Pacific Islands and US, Humane Society International, Marine Connection, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, World Society for the Protection of Animals, and the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society.

They have also written to the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) and asked it to reject any export permits issued by the Solomons Islands.

The call comes after it was disclosed last week that Ocean Park was assisting the Solomon Islands in assessing the population of bottlenose dolphins and in return might be given an option to source dolphins from the islands.

Some dolphin conservationists said park employees had been to the Solomons and were involved in dolphin capture operations, a claim denied by the park.

The groups are stepping up pressure, lobbying against any capture and import of the bottlenose dolphin. Cites says dolphin trade must come with an official export permit issued by the country of origin.

The groups said Hong Kong should learn from the experience of Mexico, where a senior congressman had expressed regret over the imports of 28 dolphins from the Solomons in 2003 for an aquarium in Cancun. Twelve of them have died.

"Given Hong Kong's ongoing commitment to Cites, any failure to intervene in this case may damage its reputation internationally and raise serious concerns over its implementation of the convention," the groups said in the letter.

Apart from an export permit, there should also be proof of a "non-detriment finding" showing the capture will not harm the survival of the species. But such proof is still absent so far, the groups say.

"If any attempt is made to import Solomon Islands dolphins to Hong Kong we trust you will review the documentation provided and consider this evidence with regard to Hong Kong's Cites obligations ... If the dolphins arrive in Hong Kong, we ask that you, in co-operation with appropriate law enforcement authorities, confiscate the animals and return them to the Solomon Islands because it has failed to comply with Cites," the groups said.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said it noted the groups' concern. It would follow the rules of Cites, but had so far not received an import application.
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Old April 25th, 2010, 05:28 AM   #44
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Park entrance to close
19 April 2010
South China Morning Post

Ocean Park will soon have only one entrance when it closes the Tai Shue Wan entrance, which is little used.

Chief executive Tom Mehrmann was coy about the future of the Tai Shue Wan entrance but said it might house a new attraction or only be used for special events, such as the annual Halloween festivities. Between 5 per cent and 20 per cent of visitors use the entrance, he said.

About 4.8 million people visited Ocean Park in the year to June 30, 2009. The park expects 5.8 million visitors by 2012-13.

It is vastly expanding its main entrance as part of an ambitious HK$5.5 billion redevelopment plan that will more than double the number of attractions to about 70 by 2012.

So far, a new Amazing Asian Animals exhibit has opened, and a tunnel train system, Ocean Express, has started shuttling visitors between the park's lowland and headland areas.

Mehrmann said the new main entrance would be more than capable of handling the visitor flow.
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Old May 20th, 2010, 09:01 PM   #45
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Ocean Park backs down on dolphin study
Charity fund will not pay for research

10 May 2010
South China Morning Post

After objections from conservationists and scientists, Ocean Park has decided not to use its charitable foundation to fund a Solomons Islands study that could lead to wild dolphins being imported into Hong Kong.

It will directly fund the US$100,000 study - on whether the dolphin population in the Pacific country is sufficient to allow for exports - rather than through its Ocean Park Conservation Foundation (OPCF).

The study, expected to begin before the end of the year, will take two to three years, and the park promised not to consider imports of wild dolphin pending results of the study.

The decision followed fierce criticism from conservationists and scientists, including former OPCF co-director Dr Thomas Jefferson, who wrote to Ocean Park executive director Suzanne Gendron to object, describing the use of the foundation as "totally inappropriate and unethical".

Jefferson, co-director of the foundation from 1998 to 2001, said the idea of involving it in the project was "counter to the original aims and goals of the foundation as an organisation dedicated to preserving wild populations of marine mammals".

The idea of funding the study through the OPCF was also criticised by Professor John Wang, a member of the cetacean specialist group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a recipient of OPCF funds.

Wang, who works with Trent University in Canada and the National Museum of Marine Biology in Taiwan and receives funding for several projects a year, said he might not have been able to have any further dealings with the foundation if it was involved in the Solomon Islands study.

"I would have a difficult time being associated with an organisation that funds such work," he said. "The perception that scientists may be getting funding from OPCF for an assessment that may lead to more captures [of dolphins] doesn't look good for any of the scientists who have received funding in the past."

Gendron, the theme park's executive director for zoological operations, told the Post the decision not to fund the project through the OPCF had been under discussion internally and a decision was made "in the past week".

She stressed, however, that even if the foundation had handled the funding, the money would have come directly from Ocean Park Corporation through a "restricted donation" - meaning it would not have affected the funds available or other projects supported by the foundation.

In a letter to Jefferson and other scientists sent on Friday, Gendron said the decision had been taken in part "to avert any misperception that funds donated to the foundation for conservation efforts were somehow used to further Ocean Park's business purposes". In addition, the study would be overseen by an independent scientific advisory group to monitor the research and "provide the necessary oversight by an objective third party", she said.

Responding to the decision, Jefferson said yesterday: "I am pleased to learn the Solomon Islands project will not be paid for with OPCF funds, but I am still concerned about the bottlenose dolphin population in the Solomon Islands. I have expressed my desire to see Ocean Park Corporation do the right thing. By this I mean that, hopefully, a capture operation will not be conducted.

"Many people will be watching to make sure that Ocean Park does not put its business interests above concern for wildlife and sound management of wildlife."

Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society chairman Samuel Hung Ka-yiu said: "Now that Ocean Park Corporation will conduct the study, with an independent scientist, the question of who will conduct the study is a very important issue. Whoever it is should be impartial and his or her research should be credible and under the review of international scientists."

Gendron said no wild dolphin imports would be considered until the study, to take two to three years, was completed.
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Old June 21st, 2010, 06:30 PM   #46
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HK Ocean Park showcases Chinese Sturgeons



HONG KONG, June 17 (Xinhua) -- The Hong Kong Ocean Park's new attraction -- "Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium -- Yangtze Exploration" opened here Thursday, showcasing Chinese Sturgeons and a series of aquatic wildlife species.

The new spot, a freshwater exhibit converted from the park's existing "Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium", features 10 Chinese Sturgeons and aquatic wildlife species of the Yangtze River including Chinese Sucker, Largemouth Bronze Gudgeon, Chinese Spined Barb and some other ones.

The 10 sturgeons, coming from the Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Fisheries Sciences in Xiamen, Fujian Province, aged from two to 10 years old and measured 0.8 to two meters long. Three of them had been showcased in Hong Kong two years ago.

The park had successively presented a total of 10 Chinese Sturgeons by the mainland in 2008. The species were placed in the "Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium" and was open to the public in August, 2008.

Three sturgeons died later on and the remaining ones were sent to institute in Xiamen. One died from being attacked by other species, while two were suspected to be unable to adapt to the saltwater habitat in the old aquarium.

The park said the Chinese Sturgeons, which have been sent to the new home for more than a month, are at good conditions and should be able to fit the new environment which was specially designed to imitate Yangtze River's habitat.
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Old July 22nd, 2010, 06:16 PM   #47
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Park urged to come clean on belugas study
12 July 2010
The Standard

A conservation society is urging Ocean Park to release findings of a study that could lead to white whales being imported from Russian waters to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society chairman Samuel Hung Ka-yiu cited a source as saying that the study has been concluded.

Hung said, despite repeated requests for the findings, Ocean Park told him the study has not yet been completed or no details are available yet. ``The study findings may be unfavorable to the park, or why is it loath to tell me?'' he said.

The study, Hung said, involves population assessments of white whales, also called belugas, in Russian waters.

Hung said he believes it was carried out to assess the possibility of importing the marine mammals from the area.

Ocean Park said last night no population assessments for belugas outside the White Sea, Russia, Canada and Alaska had been completed by independent scientists. When they were, the results should be available via scientific journals. It was not funding any studies.

The society, along with other conservationists, has pushed the park not to capture more marine creatures, including belugas, from the wild since the park announced plans to import Arctic mammals in 2005.

The park's Polar Adventure feature is due to open in 2012.

The park earlier said there are many other ways to import marine creatures and that capturing them from the wild is always a last alternative. It said that according to its animal acquisition policy, the park is committed to first seeking to acquire animals from other animal facilities through rescue, breeding loans, animal exchanges or purchases. But Hung pointed out that it is hardly possible to acquire white whales from other marine parks.

``Artificial breeding of white whales has so far not been very successful, so the parks breeding them could hardly have a surplus to give other parks,'' he said.

Belugas live in Arctic waters and are unsuitable for breeding in captivity, especially in tropical and sub-tropical areas like Hong Kong, he said.

Hung said beluga whales normally have a life span of 40 to 50 years, while those bred in captivity may only live around 10 to 20 years, partly because they may not be able to adapt well to the environment in oceanariums.

He estimated that more than 30,000 belugas live in Alaskan and Canadian waters but no figure on the number of white whales in Russian waters is available yet.

Green Sense senior project officer Hys Sun Ho-yan expressed worries that a lot of energy will be consumed to keep a low water temperature for Arctic creatures in Ocean Park's oceanarium.
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Old August 19th, 2010, 09:18 PM   #48
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Ocean Park catering programme gives graduates a new direction
8 June 2010
South China Morning Post

Graduates of a theme park's catering trainee programme said they used to be clueless about their future, but have found direction from the scheme. They were speaking as the second class of graduates took part in a ceremony yesterday at Ocean Park's Panda Cafe.

The park's food and beverage services trainee programme is a collaboration between the park, the Labour Department's Youth Work Experience and Training Scheme, the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, and the Hospitality Industry Training and Development Centre.

Launched two years ago, it invites people aged 15 to 24 to undergo nine months of on-the-job training with the park's food services department.

At yesterday's graduation ceremony, 21 out of the original 25 trainees were present. Among them, nine will work full-time for the park, and the rest will work elsewhere or continue to study. The park spent HK$1.4 million on this term's trainees, and HK$1.3 million on the last batch.

Kit Wan Fung-ling, 20, joined the programme with three years' work experience and completion of Form Five studies. She refused the park's job offer and decided to take a bar-tending course to follow her ultimate ambition of being a barmaid.

"The programme has helped me find my professional bearings because nine months before I was clueless as to where I was going," she said.

Throughout the nine-month programme, the trainees worked for the park's restaurant four days a week and went to school two days a week. They received HK$4,000 a month from the park and HK$2,000 from the Labour Department.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 06:51 AM   #49
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Hong Kong is a beautiful city, I've always wanted to go to, look at the picture of the scene is beautiful, I quickly unbearable! I will go to see! Thank you!
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Old August 26th, 2010, 05:55 PM   #50
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Baby hopes as Ying Ying and Le Le turn five
9 August 2010
South China Morning Post

A new home is being built for Ocean Park's giant pandas Ying Ying and Le Le, and researchers from Hong Kong and the mainland are anticipating the pair, who have just turned five, will mate.

They have held such a hope on the pair's past three birthdays.

The theme park threw a birthday party for the two Sichuan-born pandas yesterday, treating each to an "ice cake" topped with apples, carrots and bamboo shoots.

The pandas were given to Hong Kong three years ago to mark the 10th anniversary of the handover.

Le Le, the male, wolfed down some fruit before toppling an ice statue and pushing the presents away, while Ying Ying ate a few apples before wandering away.

Turning five means they are now ready to take up the solitary lifestyle natural to the species and, more importantly, to breed, park chairman Allan Zeman said.

"I wish I could tell you that they were having a baby," he said yesterday.

"We stay in contact with researchers from Wolong in Sichuan on a daily basis about the possibility. We're doing what we can to prepare for Ying Ying to deliver."

A year ago, Zhang Xiwu, director general of the Department of Wildlife Conservation and Nature Reserve Management under the mainland's State Forestry Administration, said they were "eagerly anticipating the arrival of the baby of Ying Ying and Le Le".

Female pandas normally become sexually mature at 41/2, with the male following about one year later. Now that they have turned five, there is only a very narrow window when Ying Ying is on heat and Le Le is at least half a year from being sexually active.

The park's chief executive, Tom Mehrmann, said in April that artificial insemination appeared likely.

He said experts from Ocean Park and the Wolong giant panda research facility were exploring the possibility of artificially inseminating Ying Ying with semen from a suitable male.
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Old September 8th, 2010, 04:58 PM   #51
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Ocean Park holds wild card on belugas
6 September 2010
The Standard

Ocean Park revealed yesterday it is funding an assessment of the beluga whale population that conservationists say may lead to imports of the marine mammal from Russian waters.

The research, being conducted in the Okhotsk Sea near Russia, began in 2007.

The news came as the park announced that Polar Adventure _ a new facility to showcase penguins, walruses, seals and belugas _ is slated to open in mid-2012.

United States-based Naomi Rose, a senior scientist for Humane Society International, a worldwide animal-protection group, said she fears the park may decide to capture belugas based on the findings of the study.

Rose said it should take years for the study to produce the data needed to properly fulfill the requirements of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

The general animal acquisition policy of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, to which the Ocean Park belongs, states that marine parks should first try for a transfer between facilities and that conducting a responsible capture from the wild is always the last resort.

However, she said, there are hardly any surplus belugas in aquariums worldwide, with the exception of Marineland, a theme park in Canada.

But Rose believes the Niagara Falls park will probably not give away any of its wild belugas brought in from Russia, although it might sell a couple of those born in captivity.

``My guess is [Ocean Park officials] are going to acquire them from Russia, and if they sponsor this research ... it would take five years minimum, more like 10, before they would have sufficient information to determine any kind of safe removal level,'' she said. ``They are not going to wait five to 10 years. They are going to do a couple of years of research and say: `Oh, we know now' and this is how many that would be safe.''

Ocean Park said the beluga research it has been funding is conducted by a Russian expert, and is monitored by an independent third-party observer _ GREMM Institute of Canada _ to ensure scientific rigor of the process and results.

But Rose said one of the main difficulties of studying belugas is that ``they live in cold water, in remote areas that are difficult for researchers to reach, and they are not very easily observed or identified in the field.''
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Old September 21st, 2010, 09:13 AM   #52
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Dining with fish to net dollars for park
The Standard
Monday, September 20, 2010

An underwater restaurant at Ocean Park is expected to hook the public and help boost food sales by 50 percent.

Neptune's will be among several new food and beverage outlets when one of the world's largest aquariums opens at the end of the year.

Grand Aquarium is the flagship attraction of Aqua City, under the HK$5.5 billion master redevelopment plan unveiled four years ago.

Joseph Leung Kai-shing, the park's executive director of revenue, said Neptune's "will be an experience like no other in Asia for guests to dine beside such a giant tank with more than 400 fish species."

Leung expects the 250-seat restaurant to produce significant revenue for the park as it targets high-spending customers with deluxe Japanese cuisine using sustainable seafood.

Staff strength has been increased from 30 in 2005 to 183 to keep pace with rapid expansion.

Stephen Chow Wai-ming, operations manager for food and beverage, said with the opening of Neptune's and the Lagoon kiosk in the 20,000 square-meter Aqua City, there will be 29 kiosks and six restaurants by the end of the year.

Expansion is expected to be completed within two years with the number of large entertainment activities doubling to about 70.

Upcoming projects include the Rain Forest, Thrill Mountain and Polar Adventure.

Meanwhile, Leung said the number of retail souvenir stores will increase from the existing 14 to 24, offering a selection of more than 10,000 marine-themed souvenir items.

Marine conservation remains the key message the theme park is seeking to spread through merchandise.

"To educate our guests, we are attaching more interesting messages to our souvenirs," Leung said.

The 33-year-old park attracted more than five million visitors based on annual attendance in 2008, ranking it 15th in the world, according to a report by the Themed Entertainment Association.

Expansion of the attraction is going hand in hand with the construction of three high-end Ocean Park hotels, which are due for completion from 2013 to 2015.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 05:08 PM   #53
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Park's polar exhibition will have important educational role
13 September 2010
South China Morning Post

I refer to the letter by Suzanne Miao ("Taxpayers' money misused", September 8), expressing concern that taxpayers' money might have been used for beluga research, animal acquisition or the construction of the Polar Adventure at Ocean Park.

Since the funding of the HK$5.5 billion is all in loans, it will be paid back in full by Ocean Park.

In response to Ms Miao's concern on our beluga research and the Polar Adventure exhibit, we believe the exhibit serves an important purpose in providing engaging educational information about the animals at the frozen poles and the conservation issues that challenge the survival of these animals and the fragile places where they live.

Framed in the context of human actions that accelerate climate change and global warming, the Polar Adventure is a timely reminder to empower individual actions that can help the fight against global climate change.

Regarding acquisitions of these unique animals for the Polar Adventure, it is the park's commitment to first seek to acquire them from other facilities through rescue, breeding loans, animal exchanges or purchases. Acquisition of animals from the wild is always the last option, and is pursued only when independent scientific research can prove that the removal of a limited number of animals from a population in a particular area is sustainable.

Any acquisition undertaken by Ocean Park, if needed for any of the species mentioned, would also be done in accordance with guidance from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the by-laws of the international zoological associations, to which the park belongs.

The park will comply with the international conventions, agreements and relevant local and overseas legislation when dealing with any animal-related matters.

The park has always and will continue to put the highest priority on safeguarding the welfare of all the animals within its care, while advocating conservation principles for the protection of wildlife and the environment.

We look forward to seeing our animal ambassadors and educational exhibits continuing to inspire action towards supporting the survival of our planet.

Una Lau, public affairs director, Ocean Park Corporation
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Old November 11th, 2010, 01:13 PM   #54
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Saving a clown fish's sight is a challenge Nimal loves
29 October 2010
The Standard

Nimal Fernando, a veterinarian at Ocean Park, is a happy man as he works on the creatures he loves most - fish. And he feels especially good when he saves one of them.

Among his challenges, the Australian is currently involved in procedures to try to save a four- centimeter clown fish from going blind in one eye, which could be a matter of life and death.

Fernando has for 20 years been administering not only to small fish but also sharks as well as birds.

``I value the life of every single fish, and I love my job since I can help keep them alive,'' Fernando said. ``You can buy a small fish for just HK$10 in Mong Kok, but to me its life is valuable. I have around 20 fish at home.''

As he prepared to operate on the two-year-old clown fish, Fernando - who began working at Ocean Park six years ago after arriving in Hong Kong three years earlier - talked about his life.

``When I was small my father bought a fish tank and I loved to watch the fish swimming about,'' he recalled. ``I'm particularly in love with the sea and fish. I love to dive and swim too.''

Then he turned to the clown fish, which weighs just 10 grams.

``The right eye of this clown fish is swollen - I need to closely examine it and see what is wrong.'' The small size of the fish, of course, made the surgery difficult.

Fernando put the fish inside an anesthetic machine, which he invented two years ago. He waited for three minutes before moving the now-motionless creature from the narcotic- laced water on to foam sponges.

``Fish should be treated carefully,'' he said, connecting a soft tube into the fish's mouth to supply it with water and sedatives.

He then took a small piece of the tumor from its eye. This would go to the laboratory to examine whether it was benign or malignant.

``We may have to remove the fish's eye or let it die naturally in a worst-case scenario,'' said Fernando, who has conducted more than 100 operations on fish. ``But I wish to keep it alive and save its sight.''
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Old November 20th, 2010, 05:21 PM   #55
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Healthy training for park animals
6 November 2010
South China Morning Post

It was Yuet the otter's turn for an ultrasound scan. At the call of the trainer, it swiftly climbed onto the examination table without a fuss, stationed itself in the right position - head through the trap, paws on the knobs, nose touching the target in front (see picture right) - and allowed the trainer to scan its belly.

The creature's co-operation is down to the training these animals at Ocean Park receive to make them more receptive to a range of procedures designed to keep them in good health, from daily grooming to medical check-ups.

"We won't force animals to do tasks, we co-operate with them," said the park's Terrestrial Life Sciences senior curator Howard Chuk Hau-ching. "Training can replace anaesthesia in some medical procedures."

Chuk said imposing care routines on animals can have a negative impact on their health, both physically and mentally, and make it harder for trainers to understand them.

He cited the example of a parrot having a blood test. A trained parrot will lie still and spread its wings for the trainer to draw blood. Performing the test on birds who are untrained requires an anaesthetic, and there is a risk the parrot will not wake up afterwards. Only two out of the 80 or so parrots in the park are trained to deal with blood tests, Chuk said.

Trained animals have body check-ups on a monthly or even weekly basis, as opposed to those requiring an anaesthetic, which can only be administered once a year. The extra monitoring enables trainers to collect data and build a greater understanding of the animals.

The park's red pandas, which arrived last year, are capable of voluntarily allowing trainers to brush their fur and feel their muscles in a simple health check. They can also get on a weighing scale by themselves as part of their daily routine.

"Animals can get hurt when we have to catch them. They may feel pressured when we forcefully perform procedures on them. Some may even lose their appetite. Husbandry training can avoid all these adverse effects," said Chuk.

Zoo operations and education general curator Grant Abel said: "We focus on developing a relationship of trust between the trainer and the animal, instead of controlling them with food or punishment. We want animals to be involved in the process and enjoy it." The park began such training with dolphins and sea lions in the early 1990s.
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Old December 15th, 2010, 09:05 AM   #56
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Ocean Park safety call after accident
7 December 2010
The Standard

Ocean Park has been told to review safety measures in the wake of an accident that left seven visitors injured.

Passengers on an uphill train at the park's funicular railway were thrown to the floor on Sunday after the carriage coming down suddenly braked.

The driver, who mistakenly flicked the brake switch, was suspended from duty and the Ocean Express service remained closed yesterday.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan said: ``We have asked Ocean Park to ensure that such incidents never happen again and review what safety measures should be strengthened.''

Lau said the attraction needs to look at whether more handrails should be added to improve passenger safety. The government is highly concerned about the incident and will ``definitely follow it up.''

As to whether it will deal a blow to the tourism industry, Lau said she believes it is an isolated accident and, from investigations so far, no mechanical or design faults were found in the system.

``I sincerely hope that every visitor and citizen is satisfied with Ocean Park services and facilities. We will strengthen our work on all fronts.''

Of the seven injured, aged from 25 to 71, a couple were last night still being treated at Queen Mary Hospital.

The condition of a 70-year-old man surnamed Lee, who was critically injured, was upgraded to serious. His wife, 67, surnamed Chow, remained in stable condition.

Train services will remain suspended until a cover is installed to prevent drivers from mistakenly turning the brake switches.

As for compensation for victims, Ocean Park has referred the matter to an insurance company.
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Old December 15th, 2010, 03:33 PM   #57
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Old December 15th, 2010, 03:36 PM   #58
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Old January 11th, 2011, 03:36 PM   #59
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Ocean Park fish set for aquarium move
3 January 2011
SCMP





Ocean Park is moving the inhabitants of its Atoll Reef to the new Grand Aquarium over the next few weeks, but not all of the marine life will stay in the park after the relocation.

More than 2,000 marine animals will be transported down the hill to the new Aqua City facility on the park's waterfront, which is due to open at the end of the month.

However, the resident giant trevally would not be on show after the temporary closure of Atoll Reef for renovation yesterday, said the park's curator of aquariums, David Lai Yiu-nam. He explained that since it is a bigger, more aggressive fish, it could pose a danger to other species in the new aquarium. "We may consider exchanging it for other fish with another aquarium," he said.

Staff were also considering whether to keep green sea turtles in the new aquarium, because they may eat the artificial reef.

While some are leaving, around 150 new species, including bluefin tuna and a manta ray, will be joining.

"The manta ray is the largest ray species in the world. We are introducing a young one to our park, but it can grow up to five to six metres long," Lai said.

The 250 species of fish and the water in the old aquarium will be transported to the new one using fish bags, special containers and cranes.

"It's a very challenging operation... Some of the small fish will have to be partially anaesthetised," Lai said.

After the renovation of Atoll Reef, which opened in 1977, the park will have two major aquariums.

The Grand Aquarium, which will hold more than 5,000 fish of more than 400 species, will open on January 27. "We expect a 15 per cent increase in visitors after the opening," the park's chief executive, Tom Mehrmann, said.
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Old January 26th, 2011, 04:36 AM   #60
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Ocean Park trumps Disneyland
25 January 2011
South China Morning Post

Ocean Park has claimed victory over rival Hong Kong Disneyland in terms of attendance figures and earnings.

The Aberdeen-based theme park welcomed a record 5.4 million visitors last year, beating Disneyland's 5.2 million, its chairman Allan Zeman said.

Zeman also said it was hopeful that net surplus for this financial year could hit the HK$100 million mark, from HK$82 million in the 2009-10 financial year. This contrasted sharply with Disneyland's report of a net loss of HK$720 million for its last fiscal year, ended October 2.

A new aquarium is set to open on Thursday, among a series of attractions Ocean Park will offer under a HK$5.5 billion facelift announced in 2005 to boost competitiveness, as the city's Disneyland opened its doors that year. Both theme parks are keen to take advantage of the rise in mainland arrivals as wealth generated in the world's fastest-growing major economy spurs outbound tourism.

This month, Ocean Park unveiled a plan to sell milk powder, a favourite commodity among mainland tourists because of the low quality of baby formula sold back home. The idea was dropped upon criticism that it would go against the park's education and conservation role. Zeman yesterday said the impact might have been overstated because the plan was only to sell milk powder at one store, and it would be only one of many products on display.

Ocean Park chief executive Tom Mehrmann said its real competitor was not HK Disneyland, but in Zhuhai , referring to reports that a 20 billion yuan (HK$23.7 billion) mega theme park cum resort was coming up on the island of Hengqin . That theme park was estimated to draw 20 million visitors a year.

Visitor numbers at Hong Kong Disneyland have fallen short of the government's estimates, made in 1999. Managing director Andrew Kam Min-ho told a Legislative Council panel the Lantau-based theme park was hopeful of turning a profit after its expansion project was completed in about three years.
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