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Special Ocean Express Preview to Celebrate Giant Pandas Ying Ying and Le Le’s Fourth Birthday Key Mainland and HKSAR Officials Give Latest Update On Sichuan Earthquake Recovery Efforts

2009-08-09

(9 August 2009 – Hong Kong)  Jubilance and festive cheer filled every corner at Ocean Park today as giant pandas Ying Ying and Le Le* celebrated their birthdays for the first time at the recently-launched Giant Panda Adventure at Amazing Asian Animals. Joining this joyous occasion were Mr. Zhang Xiwu, Director General of Department of Wildlife Conservation and Nature Reserve Management, State Forestry Administration, Mrs. Carrie Lam, JP, Secretary for Development, HKSAR Government, Dr. Allan Zeman, Chairman of Ocean Park, and Ms. Judy Chen, Chair of Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong. The birthday party lineup was full of surprises with Dr. Zeman taking all the invited media friends who seemingly lost their way, on a ride from the Headland to the Lowland on the soon-to-be-opened Ocean Express*, the world’s first and only tunnel funicular train system that operates in a theme park. The three-minute journey turned into a multimedia prelude to the birthday party with a special rendition of “Happy Birthday” featuring over 300 Ocean Park crooners from various departments wishing Ying Ying and Le Le a happy fourth birthday. Ocean Park also created an icy, wintry birthday party theme, which was a perfect contrast to the sizzling hot summer day! The party “room” was complete with everything from fresh falling snow at one of the panda habitats in Giant Panda Adventure to a 1.5 metre-high ice birthday cake concocted by Häagen-Dazs – for a  super “cool” birthday party for the cuddly duo.

Dr. Zeman said, “We are thrilled with the coming of age of Ying Ying and Le Le as they reach their fourth birthday, and witness these adorable conservation ambassadors grow up together with Hong Kong. However, we must not forget about many of the pandas’ habitats in Sichuan, which were devastated by the 2008 earthquake. As the Honorary Technical Advisor for the Development Bureau, which has taken on efforts to help with the rebuilding of Wolong, Ocean Park will fulfill our obligations to support the reconstruction.”

He continued, “Today, as we take our media friends on their surprise trial ride on Ocean Express, we are also witnessing another history-making Master Redevelopment project coming to fruition, following hot on the heels of the April launch of Amazing Asian Animals.  Upon the official opening of the Ocean Express in September, Ocean Park will become the world’s first and only place with three ropeway systems running side by side – two aerial ropeways for the cable car and one for the tunnel funicular train. It will also revolutionise and redefine the way our guests experience the different attractions at Ocean Park.”

Dr. Zeman continued, “Ocean Park’s mission has always been to provide guests with a great-value-for-money experience. So, to commemorate Ying Ying and Le Le’s birthday, we’re inviting everyone from all over the world whose birthday is in August to enjoy Ocean Park at just half the price from now till 31 August!**”

Ying Ying and Le Le’s birthday guests today also included Mr. Zhang Xiwu from the State Forestry Administration. He said, “I’m really happy to be here today to celebrate Ying Ying and Le Le’s fourth birthday. The fourth birthday for pandas signifies an important time in their lives – that’s when pandas come of age and are getting ready to start a family. We anticipate welcoming Ying Ying and Le Le’s next generation to the world, and to expand the giant panda family, which is an endangered species. At the same time, we know Ocean Park will continue to provide the best care for giant pandas An An and Jia Jia, and keep them in good health and spirits. We thank the Hong Kong SAR Government and the people of Hong Kong for lending a helping hand in the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake last year, which greatly affected the progress of giant panda research as well as their nature reserves in Wolong. Thank you for actively assisting in the rebuilding efforts since. With Hong Kong’s tremendous support, Wolong can soon return to its original beauty and once again be the home-sweet-home for the giant pandas.”

Mrs. Carrie Lam, JP, Secretary for Development, HKSAR Government, further elaborated on Sichuan’s rebuilding work and said, “The Legislative Council has set aside a total of HK$9 billion over three sessions, to provide funding for 152 reconstruction projects in Sichuan. Of this, HK$1.56 billion will be used against the rebuilding of the panda reserves in Wolong, and HK$870 million will be spent on the reconstruction of 303 Provincial Road, Wolong’s main transportation artery. There are 23 projects related to the reconstruction of the Wolong Nature Reserve, including efforts to support giant panda scientific research and conservation, and the building of community infrastructure. Most of the projects have been approved and will now proceed to the design phase. As for 303 Provincial Road, rebuilding work commenced in April of this year, and upon its completion, it will afford a more favourable condition that will facilitate the smooth running of the other rebuilding projects in the area. Apart from the financial support from the Hong Kong SAR Government, the Development Bureau will also assist in other ways, for example by conducting feasibility studies on various projects and by providing professional advice. The Development Bureau will continue to collaborate with the Department of Forestry of Sichuan Province (四川省林業廳) and the Wolong Nature Reserve Administration (四川臥龍自然保護區管理局), such that rebuilding works in Wolong can be completed expeditiously.”

Ms. Judy Chen, Chair of Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong (OPCFHK) added, “OPCFHK set up the ‘Giant Panda Base Rebuilding Fund’ after the Sichuan earthquake, and has continuously provided relief support to the panda reserves in Wolong. In the past year, OPCFHK has provided a host of emergency relief supplies, held a photo exhibition depicting the conditions of the panda reserves in Wolong, and even introduced a limited edition red panda stamp set, to arouse the public’s awareness with the issue and call on them to support the rebuilding efforts. OPCFHK has also set aside funds for two research projects to understand the effects of the earthquake on giant panda habitats. Going forward, we will continue to support panda conservation in Sichuan, and provide monetary assistance to students who will go to Wolong to take part in these initiatives. To enable people from all over the world to understand more about the importance of panda conservation, I recently launched a book entitled ’In Love With Pandas – The Story of Qing-qing and I’++, of which  1,000 copies have been sold. Royalties from book sales will be donated to the ’Giant Panda Base Rebuilding Fund’#. I hope everyone will avidly support these efforts to rebuild the pandas’ habitats in Sichuan.”

Ocean Express is the second flagship Master Redevelopment project to open this year. Ocean Express will take guests between the Waterfront and the Summit (currently the Headland and Lowland areas) in three minutes, with a maximum capacity of 10,000 guests per hour travelling in both directions. Dr. Zeman added, “After the media preview today, Ocean Express will conduct trial runs intermittently starting next week and some guests may even be lucky enough to catch a ride on the Ocean Express!”

Special thanks to Häagen-Dazs for sponsoring the giant ice cake for giant pandas Ying Ying and Le Le, and also for the ice cream cake for media friends. 

* Please see attached factsheet for more details on giant pandas, Ocean Express and Ocean Park Master Redevelopment Project.
** Please note that the current promotion in which people can visit Ocean Park for free on the day of their birthday remains in effect.  Please see attached factsheet for more details on half-price discount for guests whose birthdays are in August.
++ Please see attached fact sheet for more details on “In Love With Pandas – The Story of Qing-qing and I’ by Ms Judy Chen, Chair of Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong.
# Please see attached factsheet for more details on the rebuilding efforts from the “Giant Panda Base Rebuilding Fund”.

Note to Editors:
From 7 to 31 August, August birthday boys and girls, men and women, from all over the world, can visit Ocean Park at a half price - HK$104 for adults and HK$51.50 for children aged three to 11 (Ocean Park’s Free Birthday Admission Offer for HKID Card Holders will remain effective). For details of the promotion, please refer to the Terms and Conditions below.

Terms and Conditions

- This offer is only applicable to daytime admission tickets purchased from the ticketing offices at Ocean Park’s Main Entrance or Tai Shue Wan Entrance
- This offer is not applicable to Ocean Park Student Group Tickets and Concessionary Tickets
- Guests are kindly requested to produce the appropriate identification documents when purchasing tickets and upon entering the Park
- This offer cannot be exchanged for cash or used in conjunction with other promotional offers
- In case of dispute, the decision of Ocean Park shall be final

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