Activists call for Ocean Park boycott after deaths of animals

Failure to reveal deaths of animals is condemned as conservationists attack its acquisitions policy

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 November, 2013, 6:21am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 November, 2013, 8:57am

Animal rights activists have called on people to boycott Ocean Park until it promises to handle the deaths of its charges openly.

The campaign comes a week after six scalloped hammerhead sharks at the park's Grand Aquarium died one by one in the space of seven hours.

"We would like the park to implement a sunshine policy that would ensure the death of an animal is publicised within 24 hours," said activist Roni Wong, spokesman for the Dolphin Family, the organising group behind the Conscientious Boycott of Ocean Park Movement.

Wong called on the park to issue a suspected cause of death to the public within a week of an animal's death and to publish a full medical report within 21 days. The campaign is also calling for the park to be open about what animals it is acquiring and why.

The six dead scalloped hammerheads - all about five years old - were among 15 imported from Japan in late 2010. One died within a year due to difficulty adapting to the new environment.

The park said the recent deaths were the result of disease with "rapid morbidity and high mortality". It said it had notified the Agricultural, Fisheries and Conservation Department and was investigating.

The campaign group condemned the park's "selective announcement" of animal fatalities. It highlighted the sudden demise of 80 endangered bluefin tuna which was only revealed after being exposed by the media. The deaths were blamed on an inability to adapt to their environment, illness and attacks from other fish. The tuna had also been imported from Japan in 2010.

Marine conservationist Dr Samuel Hung Ka-yiu queried why the park acquired them in the first place. "As its excuse, the park said it was preventing the tuna from being killed by fishermen. Their rationale is always 'rescue'. They never state if the rescued animals will be set free."

Hung said the park benefited from a legal loophole which meant the department had little oversight of its acquisition policy. "The question that should be asked is why the park chooses to import so many endangered species which are so hard to take care of. What is the point?" he added.

Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, who is supporting the boycott, said the park was a non-profit public institution and should go back to promoting conservation rather than competing with other theme parks.


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