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(22 March 2009, Hong Kong)  Two of the key projects boasting countless “first-and-only’s” and part of Ocean Park’s HK$5.55 billion Master Redevelopment Plan (MRP) are coming on line, as Ocean Park chairman, Dr. Allan Zeman, took the media on an exclusive “hard hat tour” of the world’s first and only integrated indoor and outdoor multi-Asian-species exhibit, the Amazing Asian Animals, to open next month, and Ocean Express, the world’s first and only themed 1,300m funicular system that operates in a tunnel within a theme park, and with an immersive show experience.  Ocean Express is slated for a third quarter commissioning. Ocean Park will also receive four red pandas from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. These new animals will join the stellar cast of conservation ambassadors at Amazing Asian Animals. **

Dr. Zeman said, “We have made a lot of progress since the MRP broke ground in November 2006. Through much hard work and dedication, the first two attractions – Amazing Asian Animals and Ocean Express, which was designed to complement our cable car – are nearing completion. At Amazing Asian Animals, this 25,000m² attraction area will feature Hong Kong’s first and only translucent building with ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) – the same building material adopted for the exterior of the Beijing National Aquatics Centre (the “Water Cube”) – for the flagship Giant Panda Adventure facility. Ocean Park is also the only place on earth with three ropeway systems– two for the cable car and one for the funicular train – running side by side for Park guests!” (The cable car is an aerial ropeway system and the funicular runs through a hill.)

The Ocean Express system, which traverses through Hong Kong’s 36th, and the newest tunnel for transportation purpose, will redefine the Ocean Park experience for over five million guests by providing an extra connection for the future Waterfront (currently known as “Lowland”) and the future Summit (currently known as “Headland”) areas.

Adjacent to the future Ocean Express Waterfront Station are the different key conservation attractions within Amazing Asian Animals. The centerpiece is Giant Panda Adventure, which will be the permanent home for the young breeding pair of pandas, Le Le and Ying Ying – and their new family, as well as new residents from the Mainland – the four red pandas. The Chinese giant salamanders, the Chinese alligators, the Asian small-clawed otters, as well as over 60 rare and protected birds, and turtles that all live around Asia, make this particular attraction one of the world’s only zoological exhibit in a theme park with animals from the sky, land and water co-exisiting.

Dr Zeman said, “We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank our conservation partner in the Mainland – the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding – for the long term loan of four red pandas. These lovable creatures share with the giant pandas the same natural habitats, many of which have been disappearing due to human encroachment.  Last year’s earthquake in Sichuan subsequently destroyed many of these habitats. Together, the red pandas, and the resident young giant pandas, Le Le and Ying Ying, as well as the mature pandas, An An and Jia Jia, both of which will remain at the Giant Panda Habitat after the young pair moves away in mid-April, will enable Ocean Park to raise the public’s awareness of the animals’ plight and urge for action to help restore their habitats, so as to ensure the long term viability of the species.”

Goldfish Treasures is another stand-alone exhibit in Amazing Asian Animals, which features exclusively the world’s largest collection in a theme park of over 300 goldfish of all shapes, sizes and colours, including the largest goldfish variety in the world. As summer approaches, the Amazing Bird Show will return with a new facade and narrations, and guests can also take a hike through the nature path, called Emerald Trail, which will be set among water falls, a suspension bridge and multiple connections to nature.

To inspire and to educate guests about the wonders of nature is the mainstay of Ocean Park’s mandate. For this, there are multiple opportunities for interactive educational moments at Amazing Asian Animals, from captivating narration panels and narrator “speakers” corners, to state-of-the-art classrooms run by the Park’s Ocean Park Academy.  A total of over 50 interesting subjects are on offer to school groups and visiting guests, with an additional 20 tailor-made for, and featuring some of the unique species at, Amazing Asian Animals.  Most of these programmes are interactive and hands-on, such as such as Amazing Asian Animals Ed-venture and Breakfast with the Pandas. *

To give guests a totally immersive experience in this area, Amazing Asian Animals will also present the future Waterfront area’s first dining and banquet facility – Panda Cafe – which features a host of popular Asian dishes, including signature Sichuan cuisines, and the Park’s first themed and largest signature souvenir shop, Panda Kingdom Shop, which is brimming with over 5,000 animal-themed items in over 350 styles.**

Dr. Zeman said, “Amazing Asian Animalsis our first MRP attraction area to be completed and it will be a showcase of all the exciting offerings to come from Ocean Park. Amazing Asian Animalsis a fusion of Asian and modern style architecture, the most spectacular of which is of course the translucent, dome-shaped Giant Panda Adventure. Natural sunlight can come through at all angles into the habitat, making the attraction appear as close to nature as possible,” Dr Zeman said.

He continued, “We got the inspiration for Goldfish Treasures from the Chinese treasure box, and different goldfish are displayed in enchanting “treasure chests.” The Panda Cafe and Panda Kingdom Shop, meanwhile, exude the ambience of nature in a sophisticated, contemporary setting. It’s not possible to describe in words – everyone must come to Ocean Park to see and experience all these “firsts-and-onlys” when we open Amazing Asian Animalsnext month!”

Amazing Asian Animals will also be the new gateway to Ocean Park’s very special place for the “little ones,” to be called Whiskers Harbour (currently known as “Kid’s World.”)

To engage the younger members of our community, Ocean Park launched the “Ocean Park Amazing Asian Animals – Hong Kong Primary Students Creative Teaching Material Contest” in February, calling on primary school students to make reference to the animals to be presented at Amazing Asian Animals and to design teaching materials using any creative tools to illustrate the conservation messages to the public. The submission deadline is 24 April 2009, and thus far, more than 106,000 students have already registered. *

There are also educational encounters for all in the family from Ocean Park’s Amazing Asian Animals ed-venture. Bookings start on 23 March!  Ocean Park’s education programmes will keep both kids and adults alike fascinated with five different programmes at Amazing Asian Animals. They can learn more about the colorful birds in the area, have breakfast with the pandas, visit back-of-the-house areas, find out what panda keepers do, or embark on a nocturnal exploration! A range of fun school programmes are also waiting for children aged three to 14 in which to take part. Bookings by schools have started on 1 March and space is going quickly due to the great demand. *

Equally captivating will be the Amazing Asian Animals @ Harbour City promotion which will offer shoppers a super fun challenge in the form of a Maze Display from 30 March – 19 April. To top it off, Ocean Park’s mascots will perform a dazzling show to celebrate the opening of Amazing Asian Animals in the afternoons of 4, 5, 11, and 12 April.  *

Under Ocean Park’s MRP, the Park will launch new attractions over eight phases between now and its completion in 2012/13, when the Park’s attractions will double in number from the current 35 to over 70. “We are very excited to see Hong Kong’s homegrown Ocean Park rise to new levels, and continue to contribute to Hong Kong’s tourism growth,” Dr. Zeman said.

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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 organisation, Ocean Park has developed itself to be a world-class attraction connecting people with nature, and recognised 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 offering 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.