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Ocean Park Announces Latest Breeding Success First-ever Birth of Arctic Fox Pups in Hong Kong and New Dolphin Calf Giant Pandas Celebrate Birthday with Icy Treats

2014-08-05

(5 August 2014 – Hong Kong) Ocean Park today announced that one of its Arctic foxes recently gave birth to a litter of six pups, including four females and two males. Of this first litter of locally born Arctic foxes, one was born with greyish-black rather than white fur, making it easily recognisable when the public visits the Arctic Fox Den for a chance to meet the new-borns. The Park recently also saw the birth of a female dolphin calf, a testament to the success of Ocean Park’s breeding programme. Home to the world’s oldest giant panda under human care, the Park today celebrated the birthday of its four giant pandas, who enjoyed their favourite icy treats. Giant panda Jia Jia is now aged 36.

Ever since the opening of Polar Adventure in 2012, Ocean Park’s Arctic Fox Den has become a favourite attraction among locals and overseas visitors alike. Gochi, the new father, came to Hong Kong from the United States in 2012; while Mochi, the new mother, joined the Park in 2013 as one of two Arctic foxes confiscated by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, and is originally from Mainland China.

Mr. Eddie Chan, Senior Marine Mammal Supervisor, said, “As Arctic foxes are solitary animals, whether they pair up and mate is impossible to predict. Therefore we are thrilled that these foxes from different parts of the world are getting along well and have successfully produced the first generation of Hong Kong-born Arctic foxes. At this point, the pups are still very attached to their mother, though the father is also very active in caring for them. As Arctic foxes grow up quickly, the public might want to visit the Arctic Fox Den soon to catch a glimpse of the adorable pups.”

Mr. Chan added, “While the placement of confiscated Arctic foxes at Ocean Park in this case has resulted in the birth of these wonderful pups, we must remind the public not to engage in the trading or purchase of illegally sourced wildlife as pets. Such illegal captures of wildlife constitute one of the most significant threats faced by the world’s most vulnerable species, second in importance only to the destruction of their habitats.”

The Park’s animal keepers first observed the two adult Arctic foxes engaging in mating activities in early May, and suspected the pregnancy a week later after noticing the male hiding food in the snow, a behaviour he had not displayed before. Suspecting that the male fox might be storing food for the pregnant mother, the Park’s veterinarians conducted tests and confirmed the pregnancy. When Mochi was about due to deliver a month later, the animal keepers specially prepared a wooden box to provide a secure and private environment for her to give birth and care for the pups. The terrain of the exhibit area has also been smoothed out with stones and twigs so that the pups can explore and play safely.

The month of June also saw the birth of a female dolphin calf, named Milo, at Ocean Park. Milo is a second-generation Park-born dolphin as her mother, Mia, was also born at Ocean Park. Mr. Ken Kwok, Marine Mammal Supervisor, said, “As a first-time mom, Mia’s pregnancy proceeded very smoothly, and she is now taking good care of Milo at our Marine Mammal Breeding and Research Centre (MMBRC). Although Milo will stay close to her mom until she weans at about the age of four, she is already actively interacting with our trainers.”

Ocean Park today also celebrated the birthday of its four adorable giant pandas. Ying Ying and Le Le, both nine years old, enjoyed icy birthday cakes, sponsored by Häagen-Dazs™; while An An and Jia Jia, aged 28 and 36 respectively, savoured their favourite fruits and frozen treats. Jia Jia remains the oldest giant panda under human care.

Mr. Howard Chuk, Terrestrial Life Sciences Senior Curator, said, “Ying Ying and Le Le are in excellent health. Since the conclusion of their mating season in March, we have been closely monitoring Ying Ying’s conditions for signs of pregnancy. However, her current hormonal levels and behaviours indicate that a pregnancy is unlikely this year. Nevertheless, with four breeding seasons behind them, they will be more experienced going into next year. We remain optimistic that they will eventually produce the first Hong Kong-born giant panda. Given Jia Jia’s advanced age of 36, she is in satisfactory condition. Our keepers take great care in making sure she receives her regular medications and remains sufficiently active through different enrichment programmes.”

To enable the public to learn about panda breeding, Ocean Park has created a 3-minute long educational video that briefly explains giant panda’s reproductive cycle and behaviours and details how Ocean Park has been helping Ying Ying and Le Le prepare themselves for mating. The public can view the video starting today by visiting:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVoxxhssGHQ 

From 20 - 25 August, Häagen-Dazs™ will launch a video quiz campaign on Facebook. The grand prize winner will receive two admission tickets to Ocean Park and a chance to join the Honorary Pandas Keeper Programme for free, while two merit prize winners will each receive two admission tickets. From 15 August – 8 September, customers at Häagen-Dazs™ shops could get a coupon (while stock lasts) to enjoy a 15% discount for up to two people when signing up for selected “Get Closer to the Animals” programmes at Ocean Park.

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