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National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association And Ocean Park Reach Agreement On Conservation Action Plan

2009-01-23

Ocean Park To Convert Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium Into Freshwater Exhibit

(Beijing and Hong Kong – 23 January 2009) Following a meeting at Beijing last week, the country’s National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association and Ocean Park Hong Kong jointly announced the next step forward on the Chinese sturgeon conservation action plan, in which Ocean Park reaffirmed its commitment to continue with the Chinese sturgeon salination research programme with Mainland partners. Ocean Park will also strengthen education and conservation initiatives on aquatic wildlife from the Yangtze River by converting the Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium into a freshwater exhibit. This new exhibit, the Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium – Yangtze River Exploration, which will open in the summer of 2009, will feature Chinese sturgeons, and other aquatic wildlife native to the Yangtze River.

Between now and the opening, Xiamen’s Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Fisheries Sciences will take temporary custody of the five Chinese sturgeons at Ocean Park.

The five fish, all of which are well, arrived at Xiamen this morning.

The new direction was agreed upon at the meeting attended by all the conservation partners, including the National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association, the Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Fisheries Sciences, the Beijing Aquarium, and Ocean Park.

Upon completion, the new Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium – Yangtze River Exploration will feature Chinese sturgeons, and other unique Yangtze River species. Comprehensive educational commentaries will be presented alongside these new animal ambassadors to lead and inspire guests on this river journey of discoveries.

The Director of the National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association, Li Yian-liang, said, “We are happy with this new direction for the continuation of our conservation action plan. Ocean Park has demonstrated to be a valuable partner in our conservation collaboration, and we will leverage on the experience gained over the past months to take our endeavours to a new level. All of us are excited about the opportunity for the Yangtze River aquatic wildlife story to be showcased for the first time to a broader audience, through Ocean Park’s strong market reach to the Hong Kong community and international visitors. We have also reaffirmed the commitment to jointly study and perfect the salination process, with a view to achieve our ultimate goal of releasing the Chinese sturgeons bred under human care, into not only the rivers, but also the sea, and keeping a sustainable population in the wild.”

Mr Li added that the Mainland will dispatch experts to Ocean Park in the coming weeks to participate in the exhibit design and to finalise details on the exhibit contents.

Ocean Park chairman, Dr Allan Zeman, said, “Ocean Park is committed to this conservation project to study the lifecycle of the Chinese sturgeons, and to understand how the fish, reared under a human care environment, can make the transitions between fresh and salt waters. The new freshwater Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium – Yangtze River Exploration will enable us to portray the Chinese sturgeons in their original habitat with other Yangtze species.”

Professor Wei Qi-wei, Director of the Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Fisheries Sciences, said, “Conserving the Yangtze's natural resources, including the wide variety of unique species like the Chinese sturgeons that live within and around the Yangtze River, is critically important, as many communities depend on the river for food, water and transport. And with Ocean Park’s active participation, we will study how Chinese sturgeons adapt to fresh and salt waters in their life time, using the facilities that we have established in the Mainland.”

Mr Li of the National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association also revealed that the Mainland has started on a new collaborative effort with Ocean Park – the conservation project on the giant Chinese salamanders. Ocean Park will work with the Mainland experts who will be in Hong Kong in the coming weeks for the facility conversion, to also discuss the conservation plans and public display of the giant Chinese salamanders. These animals will be a feature exhibit planned for the new Master Redevelopment attraction, Amazing Asian Animals, which is scheduled to open in the spring of 2009.

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About Ocean Park
Ocean Park is Hong Kong’s unique homegrown theme park with a heritage of delivering family fun and fond memories. Since its opening in January 1977 as a non-profit organization, Ocean Park has developed itself to be a world-class attraction connecting people with nature, and recognized for its animal husbandry, research and relationship with the community. Over 90 million people have visited Hong Kong's premier park since its inception and Ocean Park has remained committed to offer adults and children experiences that blend entertainment with education and conservation. Part of the proceeds from the Ocean Park admission tickets and some retail items will go to Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong to support its wildlife conservation projects.

Ocean Park staff preparing to transport the five Chinese sturgeons to Xiamen yesterday afternoon.
Ocean Park staff preparing to transport the five Chinese sturgeons to Xiamen yesterday afternoon.