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Hong Kong’s First Three Southern Koalas Adapting Well to New Home Ocean Park Showcases World-class Koala Husbandry Care Park Releases Exclusive Video and Launches Public Voting for Koala Naming

2015-02-12

Ocean Park today revealed the latest information about the three koalas that arrived in Hong Kong from South Australia in October 2014, including details on how the Park prepared for their relocation, the progress of the acclimatisation to their new home at the Park, and their current condition. The three koalas, including one male and two females, will meet the public together with other iconic animals from South Australia when the new world-class Adventures in Australia presented by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited opens in March this year. To enable the public to catch a glimpse of Hong Kong’s first koalas, Ocean Park has prepared an exclusive video available for online viewing starting tomorrow. The Park today also launched a public voting campaign to name one of the koalas.
 
Hong Kong’s first three koalas belong to the southern subspecies of the cuddly marsupials. Compared to their northern counterparts, southern koalas are larger in size and have thicker fur to keep them warm during the colder winters. The three koalas, all aged around 2 years old, are adapting well to their new home in Hong Kong as well as to their new diet of leaves sourced from Ocean Park’s eucalyptus farms in China.  Although shy and reserved by nature, the three koalas have bonded and built trust with their caretakers in Hong Kong, and have recently started undergoing basic husbandry training to facilitate routine health check procedures.
 
Mr. Howard Chuk, Senior Curator of Terrestrial Life Sciences, said, “Ocean Park has taken great care to prepare for the arrival of the koalas. Beginning three years ago, we started planting the same species of eucalyptus trees that they prefer within Ocean Park as well as in browse farms in Guangzhou to cater for the koala’s dietary needs. In designing the new exhibit, we wanted to create an environment with the suitable temperature, humidity and lighting to allow the koalas to thrive. When Adventures in Australia presented by ANZ opens in March, our guests will be able to meet the koalas and other animals from South Australia, including red-necked wallabies and laughing kookaburras. Together, these new animal ambassadors will help present the concept of “LOHAS” – Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability – to the public, and encourage guests to adopt environmentally responsible lifestyles.
 
Mr. Chuk added, “The three koalas are now living inside our new exhibit, Adventures in Australia presented by ANZ. They have adapted well to their new environment and have shown a healthy appetite, with each koala consuming on average 0.6 – 1.0kg of eucalyptus leaves each day. Their daily routine includes eating, grooming, socialising and napping, with sleep taking up as many as 20 hours a day. Through different husbandry training exercises, the koalas have started to actively participate in various health check procedures, including being weighed regularly on a scale that has been disguised as a tree trunk.”
 
To ensure a smooth transition process for the three koalas, Ocean Park sent animal keepers, including Terrestrial Life Sciences Supervisor Ms. Phoebe Lee Chiu Yu, a veteran animal caretaker, to undergo training on koala care in South Australia and to start getting familiarised with the three koalas eight months prior to their arrival. Phoebe also assisted in the preparation of the koalas for the transport, as these animals are highly sensitive to changes in their environment. Among Phoebe’s most memorable experiences was the opportunity to spend prolonged periods of time with the koalas inside the wooden crates in which they were later transported, in order to familiarise them with the surroundings. As she held and fed the koalas in the dark, where only their chewing sounds could be heard, she felt a sense of closeness and intimacy with the animals she had never experienced before. Another interesting experience involved Phoebe playing different sounds to the koalas to get them accustomed to what they would likely hear at their new home in Hong Kong, including various human noises and background music that will be played inside the exhibit.
 
In addition to Phoebe, Ms. Annette Clark, koala keeper from Cleland Wildlife Park in South Australia, also ensured a smooth acclimatisation process for the koalas by accompanying them on their journey to Hong Kong. She has also been working with the seven dedicated koala animal caretakers and veterinary staff at Ocean Park to share techniques and experiences in caring for the koalas. Annette said, “Ocean Park has made meticulous preparations in welcoming the koalas, taking care of every aspect of their daily lives. As koalas can be rather shy, Ocean Park’s trainers have taken over seven months to familiarize and spend time with them when they were still residing at Cleland. It is therefore great to see the animals already bonding with Ocean Park’s trainers – as evidenced by the occasional ‘nose kisses’ they have displayed.”
 
To share the joy of welcoming the new animal ambassadors with the Hong Kong community, Ocean Park has produced a video to offer an exclusive glimpse of these cuddly icons of South Australia and their caretakers’ efforts behind the scenes. The design concept of this much-anticipated attraction and the setting up of Hong Kong’s first eucalyptus farm at Ocean Park will also be showcased for the first time.  The video will be available for viewing on Ocean Park’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/hkoceanpark tomorrow.
 
In addition, Ocean Park today launched a public voting campaign to name one of the fuzzy marsupials. To promote cross-cultural exchange, 48 students from Hong Kong and South Australia worked in groups to come up with a selection of male and female bilingual names for the koalas. After an initial round of judging by representatives from the Government of South Australia, South Australian Tourism Commission, Hong Kong Tourism Commission, Hong Kong Australia Business Association, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, Cleland Wildlife Park and Ocean Park, three sets of bilingual names have been shortlisted for online public voting.
 
From today till 26 February 2015, the public can vote for their favourite set of koala names at Ocean Park’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/hkoceanpark:
 
Option English Name Chinese Name Name Explanation
1 Tindo 藍藍
  • Tindo is the Kaurna (Indigenous language of Adelaide & Adelaide Plains, South Australia) word for the sun; koalas are always one of the first few animals to be hit by the sun in the morning because they live so high up on a tree
  • 藍藍 means blue, which is the colour of the sky. The phonetic pronunciation is also similar to “南”, which means “South” in Chinese
2 Makko 青青
  • Makko is the Kaurna word for clouds; the koalas travelled through the sky (like how clouds do) to reach their new home in Hong Kong
  • 青青 refers to the colour of the grass and clean water. The term “青” is also used to describe pretty girls and young people in Chinese
3 Yani 悠悠
  • Yani means peace; koalas are peaceful and calm animals which do not cause any harm in the wild
  • 悠悠 means relaxed; koalas always show a calm and relaxed demeanor, whether they are living in South Australia or in their new home at Ocean Park
           
Every 100th  participant of the first 2,000 Hong Kong residents who successfully cast their vote can win two Ocean Park General Admission Tickets. The set of bilingual names receiving the highest number of votes will be used to name one of the koalas at Ocean Park. Final results will be announced at the grand opening ceremony of Adventures in Australia presented by ANZ in March this year.
 
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