Zhuhai, China – ocean-kingdom-in-china-could-become-world-leader-in-importing-killer-whales-KxdH.jpg
© Architecture Magazine
Ocean Kingdom in China is poised to dominate over the emerging Chinese amusement park industry. Costing about $5 billion to build, Ocean Kingdom will feature an amusement park, roller coasters, thrill rides, and an 1888 room hotel, but is also poised to follow the lead of SeaWorld in America by featuring marine wildlife in both aquarium settings and entertainment shows. Many concerns have been raised though that the park intends to use wild capture in order to populate the empty pools. Two killer whales that have recently been caught off the coast of Russia and were initially thought to be going to the Sochi Olympic theme park are already on their way to Ocean Kingdom. According to the Post Magazine, Erich Hoyt, co-director of the Far East Russia Orca Project said, “We do not know if they went all the way to [Ocean Kingdom] or if they are in holding pools somewhere, or what the situation is.” One possible explanation is they are being trained in holding pools before actually being sent to the park to perform. When representatives of the park were questioned about the future use of killer whales, a representative responded, “I cannot answer that question.” Another park in China, Ocean Park once held killer whales used in entertainment shows but has not since 1997 when the last of two whales died. Tom Mehrmann, chief executive of Ocean Park said, “There is a lot of concern in the industry that they don’t have the space [for killer whales]. The arena they have is sufficient for belugas and dolphins but orcas were never in that mix. If they went and acquired orcas I would assume they would have to scramble to develop and expand their facilities.”
© Far East Russia Project
Unfortunately, conservation groups in China have very little power in this area. Samuel Hung Ka-yiu, chairman of the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society says, “You can potentially be put in jail if you try to do something. All we can do is appeal to people in Hong Kong not to go there. But we can’t do the same campaigns as we did with Ocean Park.” He goes on to somewhat praise Ocean Park that even though they captured wild animals such as beluga whales, they did it using scientific studies that measure the populations in the wild and see if such a capture would be harmful to the wild populations. However, he had no such praise for Ocean Kingdom, “[Ocean Kingdom] seem to have imported everything – whale sharks, polar bears, penguins. I would be interested to know where their bottlenose dolphins come from, too. They are doing everything wrong. They are doing everything you don’t want them to do.” Another concern is that by ocean Kingdom starting to use killer whales that it will lead to other aquariums and entertainment venues to try to do the same to match their competition. In doing so, it could also increase the market value of killer whales that is already at about $1 million per whale. If a rise in demand occurs, more whale hunters will try to capture more killer whales in order to meet that demand.
Only time will tell if Ocean Kingdom will unveil entertainment featuring killer whales. However, all indicators point to that they will which could likely lead to even more parks in China following suit.