Park expects crowds despite flu shutdown

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 February, 2008, 12:00am

Ocean Park is confident the discovery on its premises of the body of a wild bird suspected to have died of H5 avian flu and the brutal weather on the mainland will not affect the number of visitors over Lunar New Year.

Three attractions - the two aviaries in Tai Shue Wan and the Amazing Bird Theatre at the Lowland area - were closed for 21 days from yesterday as a precaution after a black-crown night heron was found dead in Tai Shue Wan.

'We don't believe this will have an effect ... Our business basically is more than just the avian collection,' Ocean Park chief executive Tom Mehrmann said.

'There are a lot more reasons to come to the park,' he said.

He said the park would offer more than 88 attractions during the Lunar New Year, such as ice-skating performances, and an ice palace maintained at minus 10 degrees Celsius showcasing sculptures of festive animals and icons.

The park's collections of birds were inoculated against flu and were healthy, he said, adding that they were separated from wild birds.

Wong Hang-yee, who visited the park yesterday, said the shutting down of the attractions was understandable since hygiene should come first. But her two-year-old son, Ken Yeung Kin-yat, was upset that he could not see the birds and his favourite bird show.

Despite travel chaos caused by the mainland's big freeze of the past week, Mr Mehrmann was upbeat that mainland visitors would make their way to Ocean Park next week.

'Ticket sales for the Lunar New Year have been positive and there have been no cancellations,' he said, adding that attendance should be as strong as the same period last year.

Deputy chief executive Matthias Li said traffic control would be instituted if visitor numbers hit 30,000.