Sun Asia Ocean World in Dalian
Sun Asia Ocean World
The information about Zoos in Dalian on the Liaodong Peninsula in Northeast China can be quite confusing in spite of the amount of information available on the internet. This is largely due to people copying information from each other and so repeating mistakes. It is made just that little bit worse when what is written has been pulled together by people who know little or nothing about zoos.
The Sun Asia Ocean World is located in 'new' Dalian. The collection is really one in three and is sometimes known as Sun Asia Polar World and is described as "the first dedicated Polar Aquarium in China". Here the first major confusion creeps in because less than a half hours drive away, and also in Dalian, is Hutan Ocean Park (Pole Aquarium) and the Pole Aquarium makes claim to being "the largest Polar Aquarium in the World".
You may think that this confusion does not matter too much but in actual fact it does. It matters a lot. It matters in that the Hutan Pole aquarium is quite good and is staffed by dedicated and very caring staff. The Sun Asia Polar World is on the other hand is quite bad. No doubt their keeping staff are probably very caring but...
Sun Asia Ocean World is a wealthy collection and is good in parts but on the whole very disappointing.
Personal Report on Sun Asia Aquarium
Another mile or so's drive through the 'New Dalian' and we arrived at 'Sun Asia'. This collection is divided into two separate buildings. The first of these predates the Hutan Pole Aquarium and contains the dolphinarium and the aquarium. The second building is an ultra modern glass construction designed by the architect of the Burj Dubai.
It was into this second building we went first. My eyes were met first by a tank containing Common seals. The tank looked okay. To be sure a bit more water, a bit more depth would not go amiss but on the whole it wasn't too bad. Turn right....Shock, Horror, this was truly bloody horrendously awful.
Beautiful animals, Wolves locked in a tiny glass box. Two sides of glass, scarcely room to pace and nowhere to hide. I have seen some really awful exhibits in my travels but this comes close to being one of the worst. (Worst because they have more than enough money to do better whereas other places have little or no money and are clueless). But it was clean. Spotlessly clean and the animals looked freshly laundered though I daresay their brains were scrambled.
*Was the next exhibit worse? I am not sure. Three sides of glass here. A tiny island surrounded by very clean water. The island held two badly stereotyping Polar Bears (and who can blame them). The male I was told was the biggest in Asia at 650 Kg! Again, nowhere for the bears to go. These bears will never have access to the outside. They will never be able to hide away during the day. There is no consideration for their mental health.
*Animal Rights groups on seeing this exhibit would quickly realise that all the enclosures they have been moaning and complaining about in the West are sheer heaven by comparison.
Around the next corner were a group of deformed Arctic Foxes housed in something that was set up to look like an office or library. It was too small, nowhere to hide. Awful...but clean clean clean.
Then there were the dolphins which were held in a large L shaped tank. In a way I sort of liked the design. It was a move away from circular or lengthy but I cannot ask the dolphins what they preferred. Why the dolphins? Not too sure but I think there was access to the tank for those stupid 'touchy feely communion with the universe' sessions. I say this because it was only here that I saw any signage in English. Elsewhere signage, where present, was in Chinese. No sign of a scientific name anywhere. Here the English on Chinese signs dealing with dolphins declared 'Expert for infantile autism'. Hogwash...or is there genuine scientific evidence of this?
So was there anything good in this collection? Surprisingly but yes there was! Personally I did not really like the way it was decorated but it was the Gentoo Penguin exhibit. The Penguins obviously liked it because eighteen of them were sitting on chicks. The floor was frozen ice and the sitting birds were on raised pebble beds arranged around the enclosure. A good number of these birds were around the glass wall of their home, just inches away from the bangs of hands, and the noise and the flashes of cameras. Yet these birds have succeeded many times over. Something must be right! There were a number of King Penguins here too but they were in moult and held off from the Gentoos.
Outside.....yes, there was a rare outside enclosure, where more seals going through a training session. A bit more than that. Here you could get your 'seal kiss' photo and pay to feed the animals a few spratts. Having twice had very very painful Mycobacterium marinum infections from seal bites you would not get one kissing me.
Going back inside and last but not least a show. The show arena was set within a food hall. First there was a Sealion and then next a Walrus. Clever of course but nothing special and zero (can I have a minus zero?) educational content. But naturally Joe Public loved it. From my point of view the cleverest thing was the way the animals were led to their small central performance stage. The public were asked to stand back and then the animal was led through the visitors and up the steps and onto the stage. Beautiful animals though, they all were here.
We left this building to go over to the aquarium.
Aquarium? It was difficult to decide if one was meant to be within the hold of a ship, a flying saucer or a haunted house. Perhaps it was meant to be all three. They seemed to house their fish in all and everything including a glass pyramid. All very weird. I didn't like it but then I suppose there are many thousands who would. Nothing especially clever or notable except that here we did get signage in Chinese and English and the scientific names as well. Sadly there was not enough of these and so my "what's that's" will all have to remain mysteries for the present. Oh and here I found the longest moving through tank walkway I have come across anywhere, certainly the longest in Asia, only it wasn't moving. Some beautiful fish and
healthy looking turtles. Then we reached Havana. Well, a food court done up to look like a pseudo Havana.
We waited here for the dolphin show to start and then went to take up our seats.
There was a pool, some holding pens at the back. Nothing flash or special. Then they turned the lights out. Cue, small trumpet spotlighted to the left plays a tune. Dark again. Spotlight central large perspex bowl where a mermaid swims. Gooey music. After a few minutes she flips into the pool and swims to public side and perches on a rock waving her arms about as though she has done something clever. Puke (no, but nearly). All the time this stupid music is playing. Spotlight to the high left again. Some guy in a funny suit appears and drops into the pool below. Bit of suspense here because this guy can hold his breath nearly as long as me. Then he appears with a Beluga which he is pulled along by, pushed by and stands on. Beluga goes away and dolphins appear and do a standard show with nothing particularly clever. They go away and show ends....along with the music...thank heavens. There has been no commentary throughout all this. It has been a complete and utter waste. This whole Sun Asia thing is animal
exploitation to the first degree. It gives nothing back. It does not educate. It is a waste of time as it stands. Joe public likes it but that's not the point though. Joe public should like it but
they should learn too.