Meerkat show points way for park

Top News | Cissy So 30 Jun 2020

Ocean Park will launch a new attraction featuring 20 meerkats and two giant tortoises at a pavilion starting today.

At a preview yesterday, incoming chairman Lau Ming-wai said the park is undergoing the most difficult time in its four-decade history, and is looking forward to working with the government in the next six months to come up with plans to reposition it.

The HK$60 million attraction spans 800 square meters at Whiskers Harbour and can host up to 60 people at a time.

Of the 20 meerkats, five came from Zoos South Australia last April. The rest were bred in the park. The latest were born in late February.

A naming poll for three pups was held on its social media platform earlier. They ended up being named after popular local beverages in Chinese as the drinks share a similar color with the meerkat's fur - milk tea with condensed milk, black coffee, and Yuenyeung (a mixture of coffee and tea). The names in English are Charles, Jeff and Yan.

Originally hailing from Africa, meerkats live in groups called mobs. A meerkat is often seen standing on top of a rock, acting as a guard in the day while others look for food. When the guard spots a predator, it alerts others with a bark or whistle.

Also on show are two 15-year-old male Aldabra giant tortoises, the second-largest tortoise species. Their life span can reach up to 100 years.

The tortoises love eating colorful vegetables and fruits. They are also able to survive without food or water for a long period.

Today will also be when Lau takes over the top post from Leo Kung Lin-cheng.

"The coming 12 months and beyond will be extremely challenging for the park, whether it's the park's financial condition, or the local economy, or Covid-19, or the global tourism market," Lau said.

"Ocean Park will be facing a multitude of challenges, and the only way we can overcome these challenges and create a sustainable future for the park is if our staff, our management, our board are united and work together to provide the best experience for our guests."

Chief executive Matthias Li Sing-chung is also set to retire, to be succeeded by chief financial officer Ysanne Chan.

Both Lau and Chan's tenures will last until the end of next June.

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