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Ying Ying and Le Le Celebrate 5th Birthday at Ocean Park

2010-08-08

Hong Kong Home to World’s Third Oldest Panda under Human Care

OPCFHK Plants 160,000 Bamboo Seedlings in Sichuan Panda Habitats

(8 August 2010 – Hong Kong) Ocean Park today hosted a pan-tastic birthday party for its four giant pandas. The 5th birthday of Ying Ying and Le Le marks a new milestone in their development as they are now ready to take up the solitary lifestyle natural to giant pandas and enjoy their icy birthday cake within the comfort of their individual homes for the very first time. Also celebrating their birthday are the Park’s two elder pandas, An An and Jia Jia—the latter being the third oldest giant panda under human care—which have thrived under Ocean Park’s world-class panda care and played the role of ambassadors to inspire conservation awareness among Park guests over the past eleven years. In recognition of the importance of sharing panda conservation messages with the younger generation, Ocean Park invited six children, with the exact same birthdate as either Ying Ying or Le Le, who were among the first to register with the Park by phone to join in the festivities.

Dr. Allan Zeman, Chairman of Ocean Park, said “Hong Kong is blessed with having these wonderful giant pandas that continue to bring joy and conservation awareness to our guests at Ocean Park. And with Jia Jia being the 3rd oldest giant panda under human care—a true grande dame in the panda world—Ocean Park is particularly proud of having provided the exceptional care that enabled Jia Jia to enjoy her 32nd birthday in good health. Ocean Park and the Wolong Nature Reserve have also been important partners in raising Jia Jia over the years. Although she exhibits various conditions typical for an ageing animal, she is still enjoying her good health at this age. With well equipped veterinary facilities in place, we will continue to monitor her situation in anticipation of any normal health issues that may arise with ageing. To encourage everyone to come say ‘Happy Birthday’ in person to their best panda pals, we are introducing a series of promotional offers effective today until the end of August. Most significantly, local children between 3-11 years of age visiting Ocean Park will receive one free child daytime admission ticket, valid throughout September 2010. In addition, guests who are celebrating their birthday today or on August 16th at the Park will each receive a special panda souvenir on top of their free birthday admission. Special dining and retail offers also await all our guests.”

As a technical advisor to the HKSAR government on Wolong rebuilding efforts, Ocean Park contributes to giant panda conservation by assisting the Development Bureau in the design of the Wolong Panda Centre rebuilding project and the world’s first disease control centre in Dujianyin. The Park also directs significant resources to panda conservation and inspires public support for the important cause through Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong (OPCFHK).
Ms. Judy Chen, Chair of OPCFHK, said “Over the past two years, our Giant Panda Base Rebuilding Fund has received over HK$6.4 million in donations and allocated HK$6.3 million for panda reserve rebuilding efforts. Last year, we approved over HK$2.1 million in funding for various conservation projects, including a habitat restoration project in Wolong Nature Reserve, a conservation study of red panda distribution in the Yele Nature Reserve, as well as the acquisition of new equipment for giant panda reserves in the provinces of Gansu and Shaanxi. The habitat restoration project, in particular, involves planting 160,000 Fargesia robustas seedlings in areas surrounding Sanjiang Field Station in the Wolong Nature Reserve to recover some 4,700 hectares of bamboo plantation. We look forward to receiving continued support from the people of Hong Kong so that dislocated giant panda can return home as soon as possible.”

To ensure its resident giant pandas can best help guests connect with the world of pandas, Ocean Park has always endeavoured to provide them with exemplary care by sharing experience and expertise with other facilities worldwide. And through its education arm, Ocean Park Academy, Hong Kong (OPAHK), Ocean Park instills concern for panda conservation in the younger generation by providing a wide range of interactive and engaging courses.
Ms. Suzanne Gendron, Executive Director, Zoological Operations and Education, said, “Ocean Park has been engaging in collaborative exchanges with experts in Wolong and other zoological facilities around the world, including Macau, Taiwan, Singapore and San Diego, to ensure we adopt best practices in giant panda care and husbandry. We also send our panda caregivers to Yaan, Sichuan for training on how to provide the best care to giant pandas in advanced stages of life.”

She added, “Since the arrival of An An and Jia Jia eleven years ago, our panda related educational programmes have remained the most popular among guests and students. Of the over 46,000 students that benefited from OPAHK’s interactive and fun-filled courses, about 20% attended one of the six giant panda related courses that we offer for levels ranging from kindergarten to secondary school. Students in ’Animals Super-stool’ for secondary 1-3, for instance, get to make recycled paper out of giant panda wastes. And in ‘Conservation Ambassador’, primary school students play the role of conservationists helping to rebuild a bamboo corridor. According to students who have taken our educational programmes, they came to realize that ‘endangered species like giant pandas and red pandas could eventually go extinct if we did not engage in conservation’ and that ‘protecting the environment starts with us.’”
As part of this year’s panda birthday promotion, guests will enjoy buy-one-get-one-free offers on designated panda souvenirs and anyone who purchases a food item at Panda Café is entitled to a free panda longevity bun.

Note to editors: Ying Ying and Le Le’s birthdays are on 16th and 8th August respectively.