Two wild piglets found dead at Ocean Park’s Raging River attraction
Possible drownings went unreported for days, sparking criticism from animal concern group
Ocean Park confirmed on Tuesday that a pair of wild piglets had been found dead in its popular Raging River attraction a fortnight ago, though the deaths had gone unreported for days.
The bodies of the animals, which had likely drowned, were discovered in a reservoir on May 19, just a day after park staff received reports of wild pigs loitering in the vicinity of the ride.
Staff members attempted to carry at least one of the pigs away from the area. About 20 minutes later, two pigs were again spotted near the watercourse, causing the entire attraction to be temporarily closed. The critters disappeared, and the ride was resumed.
“The following morning, while park staff were inspecting the Raging River, the bodies of two juvenile wild pigs were discovered in a water catchment,” a spokeswoman said.
The incident was first brought to light by a Facebook group critical of Ocean Park’s treatment of captive animals.
The park said the employee had not reported the incident to management at the time, which was why the park had failed to notify the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department immediately.
The spokeswoman added that park officials were given the information only last week.
“Although this is an isolated incident, Ocean Park is extremely concerned and will immediately examine ways to prevent similar incidents from happening again.”
The Hong Kong Wild Boar Concern group expressed concern over the theme park’s handling of the matter and called on the management to improve its transparency, reporting mechanism and the security of facilities to protect small wild pigs from the same fate.
“If it were not for residents and sources taking the initiative to provide information, news of the tragic death of this family of wild boars would have sunk to the bottom of the sea,” it said.
The department said it was notified and had sent officers to the park to understand the situation.
There were 12 reports of wild pigs entering the park grounds over the year.
While many wild animals are protected under the law, wild pigs are considered pests and are not subject to legal protection unless they are harmed within country parks. Reports of injured or trapped boars must be made to the AFCD, while those found dead should reported to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.
Wild pigs, Hong Kong’s largest terrestrial mammals, are common in rural areas but can often stumble into villages or urban areas in search of food or because of changes in the weather or environment.
In April 2011, three wild pigs were spotted near the Ocean Park administration building. Vets used tranquilliser guns to capture two of them while the remaining one escaped.
In September 2013, a boar was caught following a short stand-off near the Ocean Park Tower observation deck and was later released into Tai Lam Country Park unharmed.
The department received 509 reports or complaints about wild pigs last year, up from 408 in 2014 and 328 in 2013.