The results of two surveys, being made public for the first time, are surprising in the light of Ocean Park's decision to cancel its import of beluga whales from the wild.
In the first of the surveys, conducted in July by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's School of Hotel and Tourism Management, 63 per cent of respondents said they supported the introduction of beluga whales at the government-owned theme park.
Eighty-eight per cent said they supported bringing in new animals from sustainable sources and 55 per cent were in favour of introducing endangered species. Only 21 per cent of people supported animal activists' opposition to keeping animals at the theme park. Just 26 per cent of those surveyed supported activists who were opposed to new animals being introduced.
The second survey, conducted in August by the University of Hong Kong's Public Opinion Programme, found 47 per cent of respondents were in favour of introducing beluga whales to Ocean Park, and a fractionally higher percentage were opposed to the idea.
Those who opposed the import were asked if they would support it if Ocean Park worked with other world-class aquariums on animal research to study and conserve beluga whales. Of those who were asked, three-fifths changed their minds and said they would support the import.
Only 36 per cent continued to oppose the idea.
The surveys were commissioned by Ocean Park.
The number of beluga whales that could be removed each year from the wild in Russia's Far East, according to a sustainability study