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Pre-Historic Chinese Sturgeon Species Debut at Ocean Park

2008-06-23

New Chapter Unfolds With New Conservation Story on The Endangered Fish

 (Hong Kong – 20 June, 2007) Beginning today, Ocean Park will have a new conservation story to tell – that of the Chinese sturgeons, which are classified as an endangered species and are among “China’s Class One Protected Animals.” Five Chinese sturgeons were presented to Ocean Park by the country’s National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association, and these were unveiled amidst fanfare at the Atoll Reef, the animal’s new home, by Dr Allan Zeman, the Park’s Chairman, Mr. Frederick Ma Shi-hang, JP, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the HKSAR Government, and Mr. Li Yan Liang, Deputy General Director, Aquatic Wild Fauna and Flora Administrative Office, Ministry of Agriculture, People's Republic of China, and Chairman of the National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association. With these new animal additions, Ocean Park will be the world’s first and only zoological facility to feature human-bred Chinese sturgeons living in sea water.

These five Chinese sturgeons will play an important role as ambassadors for aquatic wildlife preservation and conservation in this region. Their arrival has been timed to coincide with the upcoming Beijing Summer Olympics, which has “Green Olympics” as its emblem. The five Chinese sturgeons symbolise the five Olympic rings.

Today’s event was also attended by Miss Au King-chi, JP, Commissioner for Tourism of HKSAR, and Ms Judy Chen, Chair of Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong.

“Ocean Park is very honoured to be presented with these precious gifts, and we’re all ready to share this great conservation story!” said Dr Zeman. “We have added new descriptions about the Chinese sturgeons at Atoll Reef and to our educational programmes that will create memorable experiences for our guests and engage them with nature,” Dr Zeman said. “The Chinese sturgeons also enable Ocean Park to forge new relationships with our counterparts in the Mainland, facilitating greater co-operation and exchanges of knowledge regarding these animals. We also pledge to raise public awareness globally on the urgency of aquatic wildlife preservation,” he added.

Two Memorandums of Understanding were signed at the ceremony today. One was the “Technical Agreement for Conservation of Chinese Sturgeons” signed among Ocean Park, and its Mainland partners, the Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Fisheries Sciences, and the Beijing Aquarium, both of which sent two and three Chinese sturgeons, respectively, to Ocean Park.

The other is the “Gift Presentation Memorandum” between Ocean Park and the country’s National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association. Its chairman, Mr Li, said that the Chinese sturgeon species date back to the Cretaceous period when dinosaurs still roamed the land. Chinese sturgeons are found at the Yangtze River, the coastal regions of Qiantang, and the Pearl River of China. The species, though resilient through time, are now being challenged as their numbers are dwindling. As such, China has been studying ways to breed and preserve the species since the 1970s. “The five Chinese sturgeons for Ocean Park have all been bred by the Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute, and the five fish all belong to the first generation of Chinese sturgeons bred by the above Institute.”

Key components of new elements added to engage guests with these aquatic animal ambassadors include Atoll Reef’s new educational and exhibition corners that highlight the fish and their natural habitat. Ocean Park also launched a “Great Sturgeon Riddle” contest with great prizes on its website and which will run from now until 28 July. The Ocean Park website also added a new “Chinese Sturgeons 101” corner for people to learn more about the Chinese sturgeons.

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Glossary of Relevant Organisations

National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association
The National Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Association is devoted to raise public awareness on the conservation of nature.

The Association also facilitates the collaboration between aquatic wildlife associations in China and other countries on the preservation of aquatic wildlife

Beijing Aquarium
Beijing Aquarium is one of the world's largest inland aquariums. There are seven exhibition halls in total at the Aquarium: “Rainforest Adventure” , “Tidal Encounter” , “Wonders of Coral Reefs” , “Shark Wharf”, “Rare Chinese Sturgeon Hall”, “Whales and Globefish Gulf”, and “Marine Mammal Pavilion”

Yangtze River Fishery Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences
The Yangtze River Fishery Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences is devoted to conducting research on freshwater fishes with application significance and applied research.

The Institute is taking the leading role in its research and techniques for the protection of endangered aquatic animals, preservation of their ecology, fish genetics and techniques in fish breeding, etc.

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 organization, Ocean Park has developed itself to be a world-class attraction connecting people with nature, and recognized for its animal husbandry, research and relationship with the community. Over 85 million people have visited Hong Kong's premier park since its inception and Ocean Park has remained committed to offer 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.