Bedding down with the Ocean Park sharks

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 June, 2005, 12:00am

Forget the imaginary Mickey Mouse or Nemo. Ocean Park is offering children and teenagers some real animal interaction - including sleeping with sharks - under a new summer programme to be launched before Disneyland opens.

The summer school programme is aimed at youngsters aged four to 15.

Park operators say they aim to show that science and animal knowledge are best acquired in a 'real, live and natural animal habitat'. The programme consists of four levels, from basic encounters with sea lions or dolphins to an exploration level that eventually allows participants to become junior animal keepers helping the trainers with their work.

One of the highlights is a 'sleep with the sharks' programme that offers a chance for those aged 12 to 15 to spend a night beneath the shark aquarium.

'Accompanied by our trainers, they will be able to sleep inside and face the sharks all night if they want,' a spokeswoman said.

Higher-level participants can also join a boat trip with their parents to see Chinese white dolphins in their natural habitat.

The programme will be staged in July and August, ending weeks before Disneyland opens in September. The course fees range from $900 to $2,800 depending on the levels.

The park also plans to build a temporary beach for its Summer Splash programme from July 16 to August 30.

Capitalising on the success of a similar programme last year, the park will feature Hawaiian-style food and performances.