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Ocean Park First to Bring Yangtze River to Life in Hong Kong with Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium—Yangtze Exploration

2010-06-17

Hong Kong’s largest freshwater aquarium featuring “living fossils” and other unique fish species now open to public

(17 June 2010, Hong Kong) Ocean Park today opened the first-ever Yangtze River themed attraction in Hong Kong, Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium – Yangtze Exploration, after a multi-million dollar renovation that saw the creation of Hong Kong’s largest freshwater aquarium. Featuring a 420,000-litre main tank designed to simulate the Yangtze River habitat, with strong and adjustable currents, the new Aquarium promises to provide a satisfactory living environment for its newest animal ambassadors – including ten Chinese sturgeons, aged from two to ten, and other distinctive freshwater fish species from the Yangtze River and Hong Kong. Guests now have a unique opportunity to appreciate the richness of freshwater wildlife and resources and learn about the fascinating life story of Chinese sturgeons. Complimenting the animals are eye-opening education panels, models, videos and innovative art installations that convey conservation messages and help guests connect with nature, which will be updated periodically based on latest research results.

In light of the significance of the occasion, Dr. Zeman was joined by Professor Wei Qiwei, Director of the Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Fisheries Science; Mr. Hu Weiyong, General Manager of Beijing Aquarium; Mr. Philip WH Yung, JP, Commissioner for Tourism, Tourism Commission of the HKSAR Government; and Miss Judy Chen, Chair of the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong (OPCFHK).

The launch event started with a delightful storytelling session at the Garden of Joy where Dr. Zeman walked through the amazing life story of Chinese sturgeons with a group of inquisitive children by turning the pages of Hong Kong’s largest 3D storybook, starting from the birth of “baby sturgeons” to their migration to the open sea and back to the river for propagation. He was then joined by the officiating guests to unveil the final page of the giant book, which depicts the opening of Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium—Yangtze Exploration as a significant new chapter in the life history of these “living fossils”. Guests and media were then taken on the first guided tour of the Park’s new attraction to experience Yangtze River and encounter its unique aquatic species. The event concluded with Dr. Zeman and the guests of honour taking a pledge to support the conservation of water resources.

Ocean Park’s newest attraction exemplifies its commitment to delivering conservation messages and immersive experiences to millions of guests. From the extensive representation of the natural heritage and significant landmarks along the Yangtze River featured outside the Aquarium, to the guest favourite underwater-travellator, there is no better way to experience the Yangtze River in Hong Kong. Through diverse multimedia displays, guests will learn about the conservation of Chinese sturgeons and other important freshwater resources. For instance, installed at the entrance of the Aquarium is Water Pearl—an innovative water art installation with water droplets under special lighting effects that effectively evokes the energy of a running river. Park staff will also conduct 3 daily education sessions to provide a more in-depth presentation about the animal ambassadors.

The ten Chinese sturgeons that are calling the Aquarium their new home range from two-to-ten years in age and from 0.8m to 2.0m in length. Also featured in the exhibit are several distinctive freshwater species from the Yangtze River, including Chinese sucker; largemouth bronze gudgeon; Chinese spined barb and white barbel fish. These fish are exhibited in a state-of-the-art freshwater environment. Two noteworthy local freshwater species, rose bitterling and Hong Kong paradise fish, are presented in a separate Hong Kong-themed area.

Dr. Zeman said, “The multi-million dollar renovation we undertook produced an inspiring exhibit that simulates the Yangtze River habitat and its strong currents. We are grateful to the National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association, the Yangtze River Research Institute and the Beijing Aquarium for giving us these wonderful animal ambassadors and to the experts from mainland China for helping us prepare the proper environment for the Chinese Sturgeons. We at Ocean Park are deeply honoured to be able to play a role in promoting the conservation of Yangtze River and its aquatic wildlife. Furthermore, while economic growth puts all global resources under pressure, the conservation of freshwater resources is particularly important because even though over 70% of the Earth is covered by water, only 2.5% is freshwater. Thus, it is our sincere hope that visiting guests will be inspired to take concrete steps in their everyday life to conserve fresh water resources.”

Mr. Li Yan Liang, Chairman of National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association congratulated Ocean Park on the opening of the new aquarium and said, “Since 2008, we have been collaborating with Ocean Park to promote the conservation of aquatic wildlife through research, public education and the recent satellite tracking project. The opening of the new Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium—Yangtze Exploration marks a brilliant new chapter in Ocean Park’s long-standing commitment and contribution to conservation and education.”

Prof. Wei of the Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute said, “The Yangtze River not only holds an important place in the development of Chinese culture, it is also a highly critical ecosystem—the preservation and protection of which remains a top priority. As the number one theme park in China, in terms of annual attendance, and a leading international edutainment destination, Ocean Park is uniquely positioned with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture to showcase the Yangtze River’s distinctive aquatic species and present the results of our conservation efforts, including the very Chinese sturgeons being displayed in this new exhibit. In the new Aquarium, guests will also learn about important ‘behind-the-scene’ work, such as rescues in the wild, artificial rearing and mass stocking—all carried out by our dedicated scientists. We hope to continue our collaboration with Ocean Park to save this unique species.”

Mr. Hu of the Beijing Aquarium said, “Given our experience with keeping Chinese sturgeons in the Beijing Aquarium, we are delighted to assist in the design of Ocean Park’s new facility. Ocean Park’s professional team has shown tremendous dedication in creating the best environment for the sturgeons and other species. We look forward to maintaining ongoing exchanges with Ocean Park in furthering our shared conservation goals.”

Ms Judy Chen, Chair of OPCFHK, said, “The important work of conservation often takes a long time to produce tangible results and must involve diverse parties. As the conservation arm of Ocean Park, OPCFHK is sponsoring a satellite tracking research project that aims to study the movements and behaviour of Chinese sturgeons in the wild.  The study will shed new light on their migratory pattern in the open sea and contribute to ongoing efforts to conserve the species. I encourage the public to support this project and other meaningful initiatives by making a donation to OPCFHK.”

To celebrate the opening of Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium—Yangtze Exploration, Ocean Park is offering guests a 30% discount on the purchase of a second admission ticket from 18 June to 4 July 2010. SmartFun Annual Pass holders can purchase an extra same day admission ticket for only $50 during the same promotion period.

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