Whale tale can be a teaching moment about protecting animals in the wild

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 October, 2011, 12:00am


I write on behalf of Eco-Sys Action (an organisation that raises eco-awareness with children around the world) and refer to Simon Parry's excellent article ('Sea change for Ocean Park?', September 19) on the park's decision not to import beluga whales.

Maybe the surveys it commissioned should have asked one single and simple question: 'Do you think that it is right to take animals from their natural habitat and put them in a cage or an aquarium?'

The main point in the beluga whale saga is not sustainability but the wrong message such imports send to the whole community.

Ocean Park has set an important example to other mushrooming aquariums across the world and especially on the mainland and has now become a respected leader for its ethics and commitment to preserving our planet. We can be proud of such a positive move.

It can also be a turning point in educating people in Hong Kong, especially children, about protecting wild animals.

People should not see organisations opposing the imports as 'animal extremists' but instead understand that taking animals from the wild must be something from the past.

Respected zoos and aquariums have already stopped such practices and instead exchange animals born in captivity in well-managed programmes.

We have not heard much about children, although they are important customers of Ocean Park.

Children have more common sense than adults, and it may be time to listen to them.

Schools should set up children's environmental groups that voice their concern or approval on wildlife issues in Hong Kong. The city would soon become a world leader in animal conservation.

We must help children to take their future into their hands.

Their message will be more powerful than those of any groups involved in conservation, just like when Disneyland decided not to sell shark's fin soup at its restaurants a few years ago when students started voicing their concern.

Also I would like to congratulate Renata Snow ('Why Ocean Park was right in deciding not to import whales', September 20) for showing the power of youth.

Christian Pilard, Eco-Sys Action