Ocean Park, Hong Kong, has a host of activities to keep you and your family occupied through the day. There are adventure rides, themed restaurants and if it gets too hot for you, you can cool off at Polar Adventure
How about a Polar Adventure? Well, a Polar adventure without actually visiting the polar regions, that is. This adventure begins and ends at the Ocean Park, Hong Kong. This theme park, like its counterparts elsewhere is oriented towards making a family outing fun and exciting. But what is different about this park is that it connects you with nature and also educates you about animals and their conservation. A portion of the money you pay for your admission tickets goes towards the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, to support its wildlife conservation projects.
The Park’s Polar Adventure, which was launched recently covers 150,000 square feet and is home to over 100 polar animals of diverse species of the Arctic and Antarctic regions. The Polar Adventure, while telling about the animals that live there, also informs you about the threats these animals face.
Walk into the South Pole and you will see three different species of penguins — Gentoo, Southern Rockhopper and King. In the North Pole Encounter you get to meet Pacific walruses, spotted seals, northern sea lions, snowy owls and arctic foxes. All these animals are housed in their habitats created specifically suited for them. even the lighting is adjusted to mimic the seasonal conditions in the Polar regions, with regular displays of auroras during the winter season. The animals have learnt to accept the influx of humans and are more often than not quite ready to do a “cat-walk” to enable visitors to take pictures.
The walruses live in a big pool and when the feeder comes out they are eager to be there first. In water, they are sleek and fast, but when called out of water they are clumsy and flop around quite unable to move fast. One of the northern sea lions in the North Pole Encounter, Beach, delivered a male pup. Northern sea lions normally breed from May to July and infant mortality is considerably high. However, Beach and her pup would be monitored and taken care of around the clock.
For more Arctic fun and screams you can take a ride in the snow sled-inspired roller coaster. You also get an opportunity to dine with the penguins at Tuxedos restaurant. Seated in the restaurant you are treated to a lovely view of the penguin pool area. Watch the birds as they dive and glide in the water, and suddenly jump out of the water onto the ice ledge. Sometimes the speed with which they make the landing is so high that they go skidding down the ledge, bumping into groups of gossiping penguins. Of course, this then breaks into a fight!
The Aqua City houses the Grand Aquarium. You can get close to almost 5000 fish of over 400 species. You can see the scalloped hammerhead shark, the manta ray, Japanese skipjack tuna and more. You can also see the world’s largest viewing dome in an aquarium and a 13 metre giant viewing panel.
Here again you can dine with the fish — yes, seated almost in the aquarium! Called Neptune’s Restaurant it is a pleasant and relaxing meal. One cannot leave Ocean Park without visiting the adorable Giant Pandas. Totally oblivious of their attraction, the pandas nonchalantly chew away at their bamboo meal. Later, tired with the exercise of having chewed so much, they take a nap. Absolutely lovable, they can easily be mistaken for a stuffed toy – except perhaps their size is a dead giveaway!
Ocean Park offers a host of other attractions like Old Hong Kong, Sea Jelly Spectacular, the Rainforest and more. Before you leave the Park remember to visit the Ocean Theatre. A unique way of telling a story, the film is screened on water. This aquatic adventure with its special effects and amazing sound will take you away into a different world.
About Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of the two special administrative regions (SARs) of the People’s Republic of China, the other is Macau. Situated on China’s south coast it is enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and the South China Sea. Hong Kong became a colony of the British empire after the first Opium War (1839-42). China resumed sovereignty in 1997. It is one of the world’s leading international financial centres. The currency used is the Hong Kong dollar.
Some of the other attractions
The Hong Kong Global Geopark of China
(The writer was at Ocean Park at the invitation of Ocean Park, Hong Kong.)