Ocean Park launches backstage tours

Baby dolphin on show for first time as Easter visitors get chance to go behind the scenes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 March, 2013, 3:57am

Cleo the baby bottle-nose dolphin will be glimpsed by some lucky visitors for the first time as Ocean Park launches behind-the-scenes tours - which will also offer a peek behind the panda house and an invitation into the penguins' private quarters.

It will be the first time the Marine Mammal Breeding and Research Centre has been opened to the public. It is home to seven-month-old Cleo and her mother and for any of the park's dolphins who need their teeth brushed or a little time out.

The tours were announced as the government's Commerce and Economic Development Bureau revealed figures showing Ocean Park's new Water World - due to open in 2017 - should generate some HK$842 million in economic benefits for Hong Kong by 2018.

It is expected to create 2,900 new jobs in 2018 and 4,290 in 2048, the bureau added in papers submitted to the Legislative Council.

A detailed design of the project, which has been allocated a HK$2.3 billion government loan, will be completed by the third quarter of 2014 and is expected to include a wave pool, a beach, lazy river and water slides.

Meanwhile, Ocean Park's special Easter tours are expected to generate lots of interest from Hongkongers.

The behind-the-scenes look at the marine centre, panda house and the penguins are just a few of the nine tours that visitors can choose from on a first-come first-serve basis every day from March 29 to May 5. The guides will also be dishing out inside information on the residents.

Visitors to the marine centre will learn how staff are conducting research on dolphins' cognitive and acoustic abilities in collaboration with the National University of Singapore.

At the bird house, visitors will be shown how the eggs are hatched in incubators.

There is also a chance to learn how the aquarium's coral is bred - small pieces are cut out from existing coral and taken to a separate tank for more than a year while it grows. There are over a dozen species currently being nurtured, mostly from Indonesia.

Each tour, which will run once or twice daily, will be open to a maximum of 20 people who will be asked to pay a donation of at least HK$30 each to the park's conservation foundation.