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Ocean Park Welcomes Year of Snake with Double Happiness First-ever King Penguin Born in Hong Kong; New Calendar Year Attendance Record of Nearly 7.5 Million in 2012

2013-02-05

(Hong Kong – 5 February 2013) In anticipation of the arrival of the Year of the Snake, Dr. Allan Zeman, Chairman of Ocean Park, today announced that Ocean Park recently witnessed the first-ever birth of a King penguin in Hong Kong. The newly born animal ambassador has shown itself to be highly curious, often exploring its new home with its parents. Ocean Park also announced the thrilling news that a record high of nearly 7.5 million guests visited Hong Kong People’s Park during the calendar year of 2012, which also saw the completion of its Master Redevelopment Plan (MRP), featuring new world-class attractions and facilities. Supported by new attendance highs in ten out of 12 calendar months, the new record represents a 9% increase over the previous year. The guest mix was consistent with prior years – 50% from mainland China, 35% from Hong Kong and 15% from other countries, again demonstrating Ocean Park’s international appeal and strong local support.

Dr. Zeman said, “Our being honoured last year as the first-ever Asian winner of the Applause Award, the most prestigious international accolade in the theme park industry, once again validates our efforts, results and association with the elite theme parks  worldwide. We are deeply grateful to the people of Hong Kong and tourists from all over the world for their support over the past 36 years, helping us continuously reach new heights. Also deserving our gratitude is the entire Ocean Park staff, whose commitment to delivering our unique combination of education, conservation and entertainment values contributed significantly to Hong Kong’s tourism industry. Our second piece of good news is the recent birth of the first-ever Hong Kong-born King penguin under the care of Ocean Park’s zoological staff, adding yet another achievement to our record of animal care excellence. This is also a wonderful Chinese New Year gift for the Hong Kong public.”

During and after the hatching, Ocean Park’s zoological team ensured the right light cycle and ample food supply to the penguin parents, as well as supplemented their diet with vitamins and calcium. The team set up a safe zone with minimal disturbance to the parents and closely monitored their incubation and rearing behaviour, making sure that the chick, which cannot yet swim, does not fall into the water. Other King penguins in South Pole Spectacular have been curious about the new-born, sometimes even singing to it and trying to feed and care for it.

Mr. Phillip Wong, Curator of Polar Adventure, said, “The two King penguins that successfully bred in Ocean Park are from the U.S. and are both first-time parents. After the penguin mum laid her egg, which is pure white in colour, in October 2012, both parents took turns hatching the egg under their abdominal brood patch until the chick emerged on 16 December 2012, still in time to be a Dragon penguin. The new-born is currently covered in thick, brown, non-waterproof down over its whole body and weight about 6kg. Eager to explore the world around it, the new-born chick is being cared for by both parents, which feed it with regurgitated fish. The gender of the chick cannot be determined until after it has fledged into waterproof feathers in a year’s time and after blood tests have been conducted.” Ocean Park also saw the birth of a Gentoo penguin chick on 12 January 2012 to two parents originally from Japan. The public can meet the two new hatchlings at South Pole Spectacular in Polar Adventure.

Mr. Wong added, “Animals must have a comfortable environment before they can breed naturally. Of the three penguin species residing in South Pole Spectacular, the King penguins need the longest time to acclimate to their new surroundings; and the female King penguins were still young when they first arrived at Ocean Park. These two factors accounted for why the King penguins lagged the Gentoos and the Rockhoppers in breeding. The birth of the first King penguin at Ocean Park is a clear sign that they have already settled in their new home. Unlike other penguin species, King penguins do not need any nest for incubating and rearing chicks. Instead, they settle in a safe spot and keep the egg under their brood patch. The rearing time for King penguins is also comparatively longer.”

Dr. Zeman concluded, “We look forward to welcoming a new generation of animal ambassadors into our family and a new record number of guests connecting with nature at Ocean Park over the coming year. I encourage everyone to visit Ocean Park during the festive holidays to meet Hong Kong’s newest penguins for a heart-warming start to the Year of the Snake.”

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