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Ocean Park Statement on Dolphins Issue

2012-08-13

(Hong Kong - 13 August 2012) Ocean Park loves its dolphins. Over 60 animal husbandry and veterinary staff care for the Park’s marine mammal collection of dolphins, seals, sea lions and walrus, including 29 of those who are dedicated to the dolphins alone. As a Hong Kong not-for-profit organization, Ocean Park’s mandate is to provide education, conservation and entertainment to its guests; yet with regards to its animals, the Park’s top priority is to ensure its animals’ health and welfare through its excellence in animal care. Ocean Park is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in the USA, the foremost accrediting association in the world, and the Park’s animal presentations are stringently audited and confirmed to conform to all international standards.

Throughout the year, the number of Ocean Theatre presentations varies with the number of visitors and seasonal requirements (from 3-6 presentations) in order to allow the Park to educate and inspire conservation action to more people. Studies have showed that dolphin presentations are effective at connecting people with nature and inspiring conservation action.* An increased number of presentations does NOT increase the individual dolphin’s daily activities. The animals’ daily activity budgets remain the same, and are closely monitored and managed to ensure their health.  When a dolphin does not choose to follow a trainer’s cue, it is most often because it is distracted by a multitude of reasons, such as hormonal fluctuations as seen during breeding seasons, whilst some are young and still learning the presentation program.

Ocean Park’s animal keepers, trainers, and veterinary support people receive periodic training including on-job training, attending conferences, and traveling aboard for overseas training. All of them are dedicated and passionate animal lovers, and demonstrate a strong commitment to animal care and welfare.

* Studies on effectiveness of zoos/aquariums/live animal displays:
• National Harris Interactive public opinion poll (commissioned by AMMPA)
• Study by Consumer Search (Hong Kong) in 2010
• Two independent research studies conducted in 2009
• Study by The University of Queensland in 2008 (Professor Roy Ballantyne and Dr Jan Packer)
Findings
• Guests feel that Ocean Park cares about environmental protection and wildlife conservation
• Guests learn conservation messages through Ocean Park’s animals and can recall them after their visits
• Guests have a higher sense of environmental stewardship and are inspired to take conservation action after their visits