Why Ocean Park was right in deciding not to import whales

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2011, 12:00am


I write in response to the letter by Arthur Lui ('Whales may now face worse fate', September 14).

Mr Lui claims that Ocean Park, in deciding not to import beluga whales, is following opinions 'which do not represent the majority views of Hong Kong people'. Mr Lui thinks that 'many Hongkongers would like to see whales again'.

As someone who last year completed 13 years of primary and secondary schooling in Hong Kong, I would like to offer an insight into the attitudes of one of Ocean Park's major targets: the local youth.

Whenever my classmates planned to go to a theme park in the holidays, they usually chose Ocean Park over Disneyland because 'Ocean Park has better rides'. Animals did not enter the discussion, and when we got to the park rides definitely took priority. I went several times with friends and we never checked the show timetable and only once saw the dolphin show.

Perhaps this attitude is because teens prefer active occupations such as roller coasters to passive ones in which you merely watch; perhaps it is because you do not learn as much about animals from seeing them in a tank as you would from watching a documentary or studying them in the wild.

Mr Lui also needs to be aware that Hong Kong's younger generations are increasingly aware of and passionate about the environment: my 11-year-old sister received numerous talks about it at her primary school; her classmates have run several green projects in the community; and they are perceptive enough to view the import of whales by Ocean Park as hypocrisy given its conservational aims.

I congratulate Ocean Park for instead choosing to set a good example for these children.

Mr Lui worries that the whales might now face a 'worse situation' like being killed in 'scientific research' or purchased by an inferior aquarium.

Certainly these whales face other threats; however, Ocean Park's choice not to add to these threats means that the six whales it would have imported will instead be able to reproduce and help support their dwindling population.

Rather than being a 'safe home', life in a confined space in Hong Kong would stress these individuals, probably to the point of reducing fertility and shortening their lives. Ocean Park made the right decision.

Renata Snow, Lantau